1. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed with stress. When the amount of ultimately meaningless this-and-that in your life (the errands you have to run, the assignments you have to finish, the tasks you have to accomplish) seem unbearably numerous, take a step back and reprioritize. Figure out what is important and what you can momentarily shelf.
2. Take care of yourself just as much as you take care of others. When the people in your life become overly demanding of your time, attention, or energy (as they often do), remember that it’s okay to focus on your own needs as well.
3. Kiss strangers and love freely. Spontaneity is the spice of life, and you never know who you could meet if you put yourself out there. Perhaps, the handsome, brooding guy two tables away at your favorite tapas restaurant is actually your kindred spirit. Take a chance on him and go say hi.
4. Forgive your exes. You don’t have to be friends with them. You don’t even have to be friendly towards them — especially if you broke up under less-than-auspicious circumstances. However, it’s important to remember that, at one point in your life, you had a meaningful relationship with them. You’ll feel better if you honor that.
5. Like what you like and like that you like it. Don’t mold your interests for external validation or approval. If you are, say, secretly the world’s most dedicated Justin Bieber fan, it’s time to show your friends just how well (and shamelessly) you can booty-pop to “Boyfriend.”
6. Indulge in dessert. Especially cupcakes (especially red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting). Eat as many as those as often as possible.
7. Stop buying items of clothing simply because they are trendy. Instead, recognize what does and doesn’t flatter your body shape (harem pants became a fashion mainstay during the past couple of years, and it was a tad heartbreaking to realize that wearing them will always make me look like I’ve just strapped on a cloth diaper). Choose items that make you feel as confident as you look sexy.
8. Keep a journal and as often as you can, jot down the thoughts that you could never vocalize because they seem too outlandish, taboo, or shameful. You’ll feel better if you don’t try to internalize them.
9. Surround yourself with friends who are supportive, kind, and nurturing. Slowly distance yourself from the ones who are judgmental, petty, narrow-minded, or competitive — it a waste of time to maintain relationships with people who drag you down rather than lift you up.
10. Work out because you want to feel your body becoming stronger and healthier — not because you want to attain a particular physique that the media has arbitrarily deemed more attractive than others.
11. Every once in a while, disconnect. Turn off your phone. Close your laptop. Forget that social media exists, just for a few hours (your Klout score will be all right). Take a walk or go for a jog outside. Let your mind wander, and remember that there are so many more precious and important matters than the number of likes your latest Facebook post received.
12. No matter how busy you are in a given week, month, or year (heh), make an effort to see and really spend time with the people who have always been there for you. Don’t take them for granted because they won’t continue to give if all you do is take.
13. Stop comparing yourself to your peers. Doing so might be natural, but it can also be unhealthy (I know my own self-esteem took a hit when I realized that I will never be as flawless as Beyoncé). And it will unnecessarily frustrate you. Instead, focus on becoming the best possible version of yourself.
14. Always, always, always remember to smile.