1. Leave this world a better place than the one you found.
This was inspired by something Tim McIlrath of Rise Against said during a performance at the legendary Metro in Chicago. I want to live a life of service and love. I do not believe that means one has to save the entire world. You just do the best you can to help where you can.
2. Lessen the suffering of others.
We have the opportunity to do this daily. I learned this rule from Neil DeGrasse Tyson. We can take a moment to be patient with someone who needs to be shown kindness. We can donate money, clothes – use our time to volunteer. We can reach out to a friend we know is in need. It does not matter to what scale you lessen suffering; the meaning lies in the act.
3. Always strive to learn new things and know everyone you meet has something to teach you.
We live in a time where information is so abundant and readily available; there is no reason not to put effort into expanding and engaging your mind.
4. Don’t hang around anyone who doesn’t want to see you win.
This rule from Gary Vaynerchuk is self-explanatory. Do not keep people around you who don’t celebrate your success. It is critical.
5. Remember the connectedness of all life.
This rule is something I did not fully appreciate until I became a biologist…until I saw the universal connections from micro to macro. Remember we are all more similar than we are different. Remember all life has its place on this Earth.
6. Never lose your sense of outrage.
Bernie Sanders said this and it’s important especially in the age we live in. Remember your feelings are valid. If something makes you angry you are allowed to be angry and to express that anger. Do not become complacent. If you see injustice, fight against it.
7. Remember none of us come into this life with a “How To Get It All Right” manual.
Inspired by My Stroke of Insight, a book by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Remembering no one knows how to get it all right encourages me towards patience and kindness.
8. Let it go.
At the risk of sounding like a Disney princess, you have to let things go that are not threatening your well-being. I find my heart is less heavy when it does not carry around negativity from the past.
9. Never stop fighting.
You never give up on the people you love. You never give up on the passion in your heart. Fight to build the life you want and deserve.
10. Know blood doesn’t equal family and four walls don’t define a home.
People and places can be homes too.
11. Be yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Billions of years of the Earth’s evolution and it has all lead to here and now – and you. Don’t waste good and this amazing opportunity called life by holding back all that you are. And it is okay if you are not okay and if things are not perfect. You will figure it out.
12. Embrace the power of saying no to things that don’t build you up and make you happy.
Stop wasting your precious time in this life and energy on things that pull you down. You have a choice and a voice to say no.
13. Practice kindness and gratitude every day.
Intentionally do something kind for someone. Tell people you are thankful for them and their talents. They won’t mind. They might even feel inspired to do it for someone else.
14. End toxic relationships.
Toxic relationships drain you. Once you are drained you cannot give. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Allow yourself to cut ties with people who do not care for you in the way you deserve.
15. The test is life. And yes, everything is on it.
I learned this from pre-kindergarten through graduating college. I’d hear students ask the same question without fail every year “will this be on the test?” Well, the test is life. Everything is on it. Be prepared.
16. Be willing to ask for and receive help.
You do not have to do it all alone. It is okay to need help. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to receive help. As Amanda Palmer would say “take the doughnuts!”
17. Low moods are not the time to evaluate your worth.
We all have good moods and bad moods. Do not attach your worth to criticism or praise. Acknowledge when you are feeling low and make decisions in better states of mind.
18. Work like someone is coming to take it from you.
You can have whatever you want, but you must put the work in. Mark Cuban inspired this rule.
19. Exude poise and grace under pressure.
Especially to people in the public eye it can be exhausting to be a character, to put on a show when you’re not at your best. Author and dating coach Arden Leigh taught me this.
20. Commit senseless acts of beauty.
Dr. Richard Carlson inspired this rule while I was reading his book, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. Add beauty to the world in whatever way you can.
21. “Fill the world with music, love and pride”
Lin-Manuel Miranda said this during his tony acceptance speech. I could not say it more perfectly.