1. Expect a detour to be part of the path. Life is not linear. It changes in response to how we change, and shifting our habits and impulses is a gradual thing. Don’t give up on where you want to be, but give up on how you want to get there.
2. Imagine the worst possible scenario for this year. Imagine the worst that could happen. Got it? Start preparing for it as though it were real. Is your worst scenario that you could lose a job? Groom your résumé and start saving money. Is it that you could lose a loved one? Start being completely present and grateful for the time you have with them. Is it that you could become sick and not be able to enjoy your life? Start taking better care of yourself. It’s not about whether or not the “worst” will happen, but whether or not you are prepared to cope regardless.
3. Measure the quality of your life not by how many problems you have, but by how many things that matter more than those problems. Happiness is never the result of just “not having issues.” It’s always the result of having a few things in life that you genuinely care about. Switch the way you think of it, and you’ll switch what you strive for.
4. Each morning, ask yourself: “What must I get done today?” Prioritize your day by differentiating needs, wants and ideals. You’ll find that by tackling just one or two important things at a time, you get more done (and have less to stress about).
5. Imagine the life you want to live. Make a list of what your daily routine would look like. Shift your current routines to match that, a little bit at a time. Major change comes from shifting small, daily routines, and changing your routine in a way that sticks comes from doing it gradually.
6. Constantly remind yourself of the big picture. Write down a list or a note to yourself and put it somewhere you can see it. Remind yourself of what your big picture is every single day.
7. Write down one sentence about what you did at the end of each day. It’s fast, so you’re more likely to stick to it than you are journaling, and it also holds you accountable for your actions. You’ll be shocked how much you feel motivated to change when you can look through exactly what your daily life has consisted of over the past week, month, six months…
8. Do something each day for someone other than yourself. A huge part of happiness is caring about something more than you do yourself. It’s what propels us as human beings to be good, be better, and hang in there when things are really tough. Care for yourself first, but don’t just care for yourself. Find practical ways to give to other people regularly.
9. Make one healthier food choice each day. Just one. Choose water for just one more drink, or deny yourself just one craving you’d normally indulge in. The results will add up quicker than you think.
10. Make choices based on logic, not impulse. If you don’t want to be thrown around by your every whim and desire for the rest of your life, you will have to learn to listen to your mind more than your cravings or desires to “escape” for a moment.
11. Choose your “fight” instinct more than you do your “flight.” Even if it doesn’t feel natural at first, do your best to re-train yourself to deal with issues as they arise rather than avoid, suppress or run away from them.
12. Don’t choose your actions based only on how “good” they feel. What feels “good” to us is whatever we’re comfortable with, which is not the same thing as what’s right for them. Very often, people are taught to choose behaviors based on what “feels right” without realizing that whatever they’re used to will “feel right.” That doesn’t make it the best choice, though.
13. Stop responding to every single feeling you have. Feelings are not facts, and many of them are random and meaningless and would pass if you just let them. Not everything warrants a response. Evaluate it before you respond to it.
14. Learn the difference between being self-aware and self-monitoring to the point of shifting your personality. Sure you want to be conscious of how your actions can affect other people, but when it gets to the point of what will give you the most acceptance over who you genuinely are, you’ve lost yourself.
15. Think less, live more. Talk less, do more. Stop talking about what you’re going to do and channel all of that energy into actually doing it. Celebrate your accomplishments, but be able to put your head back down the next day and keep working. Don’t think about your life more than you actually live it, and don’t talk about your life more than you actually do something for it.
16. Accept what you’re given. You’re not in control of the outcomes; only how you respond to them. Rather than looking around each day and wondering: “Will this make me happy?” Ask yourself: “How can I make the best of what I have right now?” Doing so will change everything. Non-resistance isn’t surrendering control, it’s steering the ship along with the tides.