1. Focus on being completely present when you’re having a conversation with another person. You’re going to fail at it a million times, you’re going to be distracted a million times. But the harder you work at it, the better you’ll get at listening genuinely and authentically to others.
2. Try as hard as you can to be kind to the person who annoys you the most. And when you finally go home from the party or workday or dinner where they were frustrating the hell out of you, give yourself a moment to process that frustration, and then let it go. Wasting your energy hating on someone feels really good in the moment, but it only pulls you back in the long run.
3. Recycle. Check the bottoms of everything. There are tons of things you assume should go in the trash that can actually be recycled. Think about the world you want to leave for your great-great-grandchildren every time you feel too lazy to wash out that jar of pasta sauce and put it in the recycling bin.
4. Say thank you. All the time. Never underestimate the life-changing abilities of gratitude.
5. Read. The more you do it, the more natural and enjoyable it will become to you. Force your mind to actively break down information, instead of passively inhaling forgettable content from screens all day.
6. Go out of your way to be kind to the people who work in the waiting rooms at medical offices, or those who work for customer service hotlines, or anybody who works in the service industry. They deal with angry, rude, and condescending people all day long, usually over situations that are completely out of their control. Always make it your mission to be one of the single bright spots in their day.
7. Respect money. But don’t worship it.
8. Embrace the fact that you will encounter a lot of people in your lifetime whose opinions and beliefs are the complete opposite of yours. Focus more on understanding their point of view than on trying to prove to them why you are right.
9. Embrace the fact that you’re going to be wrong. A lot.
10. Don’t waste food. Find a use for everything. Always take home your leftovers from restaurants.
11. Always carry Advil or Tylenol on your person. You, and many of your friends, will be very grateful.
12. Hold the door open for other people and don’t get mad if they forget to say thank you. Most of the time, it’s completely unintentional.
13. Learn the difference between making purchases that will bring a little bit of extra enjoyment, versus making purchases in an attempt to fill a void in your life.
14. Learn the difference between confidence and arrogance.
15. Forgive people that have wronged you.
16. Remember that forgiving them doesn’t always mean you have to keep them in your life.
17. Make eye contact with the people who are speaking to you. Never underestimate the power of solid eye contact in putting someone else at ease. There’s no easier way to make others feel respected, heard, and acknowledged.