Go out of your way to find the littlest of things to be thankful for. Soon you will realize that they are more wonderful than you ever realized. When your line at the grocery store moves much more quickly than you were expecting, that’s wonderful. When your bartender gives you a particularly generous pour, that’s wonderful. When you find yourself trying not to laugh during a serious situation (which ultimately makes it funnier), that’s wonderful. Someday you’ll look back and realize you remember a surprisingly large number of seemingly mundane (but actually wonderful) situations.
Be present. Focus on trying to feel the energy emanating off of someone you care about when you’re lucky enough to spend time with them. When you’re hanging out with them on the couch or sitting across from them at dinner, listen intently to what they’re saying. Don’t allow your mind to wander off or to start computing what you will say next. Repeat what the other person is saying in your head if you really need to. Be with them. Leave everyone else on your phone and put it on silent in your pocket.
Dare yourself to demand respect from everyone around you, while also remembering that you are no better than anyone else. Look at the people you annoy you the most and remember that they’ve experienced moments just as sad and as difficult as some of yours. Sometimes they’ve had it even harder than you. You do not have to trick yourself into trying to like them. But you do have to remember that they are human beings.
Look closely at the details on everything, especially that which resides in nature. Pay attention to the patterns of individual leaves while you’re walking to your car. Observe a sunset through only your own eyes and don’t share it with anyone on Snapchat. Inhale a breath of fresh air right after it rains and reflect on the fact that few things smell as good.
Read about ways to have more pleasant mornings or productive days or relaxing evenings, and learn how to actually implement your favorite ones instead of just pretending you will. No more “that sounds nice… maybe some day.” Actually go for that walk in the middle of the day, or bring a book to read on your lunch break instead of scrolling on your phone. Actually drink that warm cup of chamomile tea before bed every night, or sit on the ground for five minutes a day and meditate. If it’s really that hard for you (don’t be embarrassed if it is, we’re a restless generation), try doing it for sixty seconds the first few times. It works.
Leave your phone in the other room when you shower. Stand in the hot water for several minutes before you grab for the shampoo. Just let yourself be left alone for a while. Think of nothing except how good it is to feel clean.
Be you, whoever that is right now, and don’t convince yourself that you have to explain your existence to anyone. Make the choices that you think are right, take care of yourself, and always aim to make someone else’s day a little better.
Hug the person you care about more than anyone else in the world and allow yourself to appreciate, even for two seconds, the fact that they are warm and alive and that you can feel their heart beating for you. These are the little moments that we miss later on, the ones that we agonize over because we didn’t spend enough time appreciating them.
Be here, and be you, as strongly as you can. Be awake.