1) Embrace New Experiences
Most people suffer from merely existing versus really living. Don’t get caught in a rut; get out of it if you are. Explore. Play. Go beyond your comfort zone. Don’t lean on the excuse “I don’t have time to try new things.” It is as tragic and ridiculous as saying “I don’t have time to breathe.” New experiences are life. Live deeply.
2) Be Who You Are
Recognize and clear through what others expect of you, including society’s expectations, your parents’ expectations, the opposite genders’ expectations, and anyone’s expectations. Recognize and clear through the guilt, anger, fear and other emotions that are sabotaging you. What are your dreams? Your goals? Your loves? Who are you? Be that person.
3) Let Go of the Past
The past is good for two things: the happy memories, and the lessons it provides. Clinging to resentment and sadness for past events hurts one person the most: YOU. Don’t let the past suck the gift of the present out of you. Forgive. Let go. Be here now, and go forward.
4) Be Kind
It is easy to act kindly to those who have been kind to you. Do so, but also remember that is not where kindness is needed most. Recall those many times where you made mistakes, where you reacted out of negative emotions instead of responding from who you really are. Recall how you felt, or how you would have felt, if others responded to your mistakes with kindness instead of harsh criticism or a cold shoulder. Negativity only breeds more negativity. Empathize, and choose to be kind. It spreads rapidly.
5) Be Responsible for Yourself
Whatever happens, however promising or tragic, only one person is responsible for how you respond to it: you. There are no greater wastes of energy and potential than blame, envy, a desire for revenge, and wallowing in self-pity. You and only you are responsible for how you respond to anything and how you act. You wish others were a certain way? You wish the world were a certain way? Be the example.
6) Nurture Relationships
Think of your most joyful moments. Think of all you have learned. Think of what has helped you grow. Chances are great these all involve other people, and other relations such as pets and nature too. There are over six billion people on this earth. There are infinite relationships to be had. Everyone has something to understand and to learn from. There is infinite love to be had, and to give. You can choose to be lonely, but you are never alone.
7) Recognize All You Have, and Be Grateful for It
If you are alive, you are fortunate. If you can read this, you are fortunate. If you can walk, talk, see, smell, taste, or feel, or all of these, you are fortunate. You are what you focus on, so if you focus on what you lack, you become that lack. Focus on all that you do have, on the gifts inside and all around you. Be grateful to be great.
8) Do What Inspires You
Painting, singing, writing, biking, swimming, gardening, reading, dancing, walking, woodcarving … what is your flame? What ignites you, inspires you, enlightens you, restores your life? Do it, and do it often. Do not believe your excuse of having too much work to do and too little time for what inspires you. Doing what inspires you is the very fuel that will give you the strength and motivation to do the other things you need to do, and do them well.
9) Remember that Happiness is a State, Not a Circumstance
Happiness is a state of being, not merely a moment of pleasure or joy. By committing to your happiness you acknowledge and accept that there will be times of challenge and suffering, but by staying true to who you are you will not just endure but thrive. Happiness is not just the bird floating serenely on the water, and happiness is not made unhappy by the rock that falls and temporarily disturbs the water. Happiness is the water itself, always being exactly what it is.