We’re a week into 2011, and I wanted to hit you all with a great list of habits to sink your teeth into. Happy people are passionate, grateful, fulfilled, and true to themselves – among other things. They have habits and ways of going about things that help them experience what they love in their lives more often than anything else. These are highly effective, life-changing habits, and they’re coming to you at the perfect time. Start developing these in your life, and I promise you this will be your best year ever.
Honest Appreciation – The “attitude of gratitude” is more than a clever new-age catch phrase. When you genuinely appreciate the experiences, people, opportunities, and challenges in your life, you set your world in motion. You reap what you sow, right? Well start sowing the seeds of gratitude. Soon you’ll be reaping a harvest of your design – love, passion, purpose, achievement – a life fulfilled.
Humor – Use it. Recognize it. Champion it. Look, life can be unparalleled in its awesomeness, and it can also be incredibly hard. This greatly depends on your perspective of the world around you. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry?” When life gives you two rusty nails, a rubber band, and a stick of Dentyne when all you wanted was a few lemons, it would probably feel better to laugh, rather than cry. There are some hilarious moments, events, and people in the world. Join them! Laughter truly is the best medicine.
Take Responsibility – Your next best step to greatness is to take the wheel and steer. You have to accept 100% responsibility for the course your ship takes because nobody else is going to. In interviews with highly successful and happy people, one key lesson they always seem to share is that they took responsibility for their actions and outcomes in life… and that’s when it all changed for them.
Know Your Choice – Even when you don’t think you have a choice, you do. Even when you don’t think you made a choice, you did. In this new year, make it a habit of choosing what you truly want in your life. Remember, when you say yes to something you don’t really want, you say no to something you do want. The same works in reverse. When you say yes to things you want, you say no to things you don’t. Pretty simple, right? It takes practice, but you’ll get there. It takes 21 days to make a habit. Start today.
The Company You Keep – Your friends and colleagues play a big part in your actions. Surround yourself with people that support your values and ethics. If they share the passion you share, they’ll help you achieve your goals. People have a way of building each other up when they’re in a like-minded group. Give yourself permission to get a new group of friends and be received as the new guy again.
Give Yourself Permission – This is so huge. Give yourself permission to fail. Give yourself permission to succeed. There are a lot of people that don’t give themselves permission to do enough of either. “I don’t want to fail, but I don’t want to draw too much attention by being too good.” Define what success and failure looks like to you, and give yourself permission to experience both. When you do, take lessons from it and move forward to you next great adventure!
Do What You Love – Another characteristic of happy and successful people is they do what they love. Life is short. Too short to hate what you do, or do something that doesn’t make you feel alive. Chase your passions, my friends. Make time to enjoy yourself and your hobbies.
Never Stop Learning – Your brain is a muscle – a mental muscle. It gets stronger and more “fit” as you learn and expand your mind. Open your mind up and keep learning. There are 356 days left this year – read something challenging and new. When your mind is sharp and engaged, your well-being improves and you feel more equipped to handle more in your life.
Get Active – Get off the couch and get moving! I’m not suggesting everyone go out and train to be a marathon runner – even a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood makes a difference. Exercise releases endorphins which helps to ease tension and stress. When you’re less stressed, you feel better, more focused, and you’re confident. Try it!
Keep Your Word – There’s something so powerful about a person that is true to his or her word. When you’re honest, you have nothing to risk. Be honest with the people in your life, and keep the promises you make. Nobody loses when words are kept.
Go Boldly Everywhere – Venture into new experiences with confidence and an open mind. Start new projects and adventures with people. Take a vacation to an unusual place. In everything you do, make it a habit to give it your all – boldly going everywhere.
Forgive – Practice forgiveness in your day-to-day activities. There’s no reason to rage against the person in the Toyota that was driving too slow in the fast lane. If you pass that car, the moment is passed. Forgive the driver, and forgive yourself for getting heated about it. We’re all humans, and we’re all trying to do what we can to live. Sometimes one way will interfere with another. It happens. Forgive it, and let the weight go.
Practice Compassion – This goes right along with forgiveness above. Rather than hold a judgment against someone based on your perspective, show a little compassion. Here’s an example: When you’re on the train and you pass judgment against a passenger you don’t know, based on something they’re doing or saying, recite the following phrase to yourself – “just like me, this person is struggling to make sense of it all, and is learning about life.” People are different than you are. They’ll see things, hear things, want things differently than you will. Accept and practice compassion.
Mind Your Business – Focus on your life only. Take care of yourself and your family. Work on how you are received in the world. When you focus on what others should or should not be doing, thinking, or saying, you’re in their business – and you don’t belong there. Everyone is entitled to live a life they love, and one all their own… including you.
Take Care of Yourself – In the world today, there are a lot of pressures that wreak havoc on the mind, body, and spirit. Take time to get away from all of it and restore. Spend an entire weekend napping and relaxing when you feel stressed. Get a massage! Turn your phone off for a day or two! When your mind and body are nurtured and well cared for, your ability to thrive is top-notch. You’re the most important person in your life. Treat your spirit that way.