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12 Simple Rules to Help You Live Your Best Life

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Alyssa has studied psychology, philosophy, religion, and the arts. She loves sharing her thoughts, ideas, and papers with the world.


The new year is in full swing. Many have been hard at work on their resolutions and some have fallen off, reverting back to old habits. Hey, we're all human. It happens. There's always next year, right?

I'm a firm believer in the idea that you don't need a new year or a new week to set a goal and start taking action to achieve it. Every day presents a new opportunity to improve yourself. Each morning you wake up, you have a choice: You can continue to dredge through life, doing the same things you've always done, or you can take action and work toward your goals. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Little changes over time add up to amazing results.

All of that sounds good when you read it. Maybe you agree and get inspired. But, where do you start? How do you change decades-old habits?

One day at a time.

I've compiled a list of 12 ideas to help get you started. These are simple ideas that anyone can follow. Implementing just one can drastically improve your life for the better. Imagine how amazing and fulfilled you'll feel if you incorporate more into your daily routine.

1. Attitude Is Everything

Challenges in life are inevitable. Not everything is easy or simple. We all face difficulties. It is how we approach the issue and then, how we handle it, that tends to define who we are; our character.

If your outlook is bleak and your attitude negative, seeing a challenge or issue as a massive problem, an inconvenience, then that is exactly what it will be. Your journey in solving it will be long and difficult, wrought with even more challenges. It will continue to pile on, becoming heavy and weighing you down. It increasingly gets more difficult and it may even seem to be impossible to break through or solve.

However, you can better tackle whatever life throws at you by putting a challenge or issue into perspective. Look at it as an opportunity to challenge yourself, to grow, to learn something. Maybe it's a chance to try again. It won't always be easy, but having a good disposition will help get you through just about anything.

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a school... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes."
-Charles Swindoll

"I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% how I react to it... We are in charge of our attitudes."

— Charles Swindoll

2. Laughter Is the Best Medicine

Life is short and it's not that serious. This is a lesson that can sometimes take years to learn. Once you do, it's easier to relax, to find the ability to laugh at yourself. Having a sense of humor and a good disposition can get you through just about anything. Laughing feels good; it releases endorphins, combats stress, and can help you put things into perspective. Even better is being able to laugh at yourself.

Have a sense of humor. Learn to see challenges as an opportunity to grow, to change, and to try again. You will make it through. You can tackle the difficulties and move on with your life, hopefully having learned something in the process.

3. Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful practice that can transform your life. Many people credit a daily practice of gratitude as a reason for their success. This goes beyond the generic, occasional thank-you. It's all about finding gratitude in the smallest, simplest of things: a beautiful sunrise and the promise of a new day; a cup of hot coffee; a glimpse of a hummingbird; or a magnificent sunset, to name a few.

Gratitude is a choice. It takes practice and conscious effort every single day. It can take a lot of inner strength, especially during difficult times, but it is extremely powerful. There is so much in life to be grateful for; getting yourself in that mindset will shift your perspective and change your life for the better.



4. Let Go

You can not out-run the past. But you can begin to make peace and learn to let go of the things that no longer serve you.

We all make mistakes. We have all made at least a handful of poor choices. Sometimes those decisions can haunt you, especially if you hold onto anger, guilt, resentment, or any other negative feelings. As the years go by and you get older, you realize that it doesn't do anyone any good to be angry. I read something a long time ago that said the only person who cares that you're upset is you. This simple phrase took me by surprise. I had never considered that thought. However, it holds true, and when you begin to understand it, you realize that you are only hurting yourself by holding onto that anger.

Life is short, fleeting. A great analogy that always puts everything into perspective for me is the above picture. In comparison to the Universe, our lives are but a blink. This can be incredibly depressing or incredibly inspirational. It simply reiterates the idea that life is short. Why spend your time holding onto grudges, being angry, and miserable, when you could be filled with happiness and enjoy your time with the people who matter most?

I know that is a lot easier said than done. We are human. We have emotions and feelings. We are not perfect. Everything is not sunshine and rainbows.

Here's the thing. Everyday is a fresh start; a chance for a new beginning. We may not always get to choose the situation, but we always have power over our reactions.

"Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."

— Buddha

5. Clear the Clutter

We all have a junk drawer. You know the one. A drawer filled with miscellaneous items that collect over time: old batteries, mini-flashlights, little momentos, random cords, pencils, markers, pens, papers and receipts, maybe loose change, or broken toys. It's an important staple in every household.

But when that clutter spills over into different corners of the house, it starts getting distracting: piles of old magazines and newspapers, random pens and pencils floating around, the daily mail stacking up on the counter, glass jars and plastic containers that you've saved for a fun Pinterest-worthy project. The mess happens gradually and it seems to creep up on you, until finally it gets overwhelming.

When there are piles of clutter everywhere, you aren't able to focus or concentrate well. You get frustrated and cranky. It might seem impossible to tackle the mess, but breaking up the task into smaller chunks will make it more manageable. There's no need to wait for spring, either. If you start now, once the weather gets warmer, you'll be able to spend your time out enjoying it versus stuck inside cleaning.

Designate a room a day and keep it simple. Go through everything and create three piles: keep, donate, toss. Be honest with yourself. Do you really need that old cup no one uses that sits on your counter? Are you really going to wear that purple dress again that you wore once to your cousin's wedding eight years ago? If you haven't used it or worn it in the past three years, you might consider letting it go. Clear the space so you can clear your mind. It is incredibly uplifting to get rid of old items and organize your home.

6. Move Your Body

We all know it's important to exercise and eat right. We're bombarded with infomercials on TV trying to sell us programs and products that promise to help us lose 20 pounds in two months, get our bodies back, look and feel young and sexy. Many of us set resolutions each year to lose weight. This is going to be "the year," we promise to ourselves.

Exercise has many health benefits. It can help us lose weight, lower our blood pressure, strengthen our heart, tone and firm our muscles, just to name a few. But exercise can also help boost our mood. A good workout can bring mental clarity, help cure depression, combat stress, and can just make you feel amazing. Exercise is therapy.

You don't have to join a gym, you don't have to spend a ton of money on clothes and equipment, you don't even have to run or step a foot on a treadmill if you don't want to.

Go visit your local or state park. Go for a walk around your neighborhood. Take a bike ride or a stroll along a beach. Go swimming.

You can even get a quality workout in the privacy of your own home for free. Yes, you read that right. Free. YouTube is an amazing resource for free workouts. Visit your local library and check out a fitness DVD. Put on some music and dance around your house. There is so much you can do. Find something you enjoy and stay consistent with it. Do this at least three to four times a week and watch how not only your body will change, but your mindset will change.

7. Mind Your Manners

Have you ever heard the expression, You catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar? We all know the golden rule: treat people the way you want to be treated. No matter the situation, remember to use your manners. Say please when making a request. Be sure to say thank you when someone does something for you or gives you a gift. Say excuse me in the appropriate situations. Before you leave the grocery store, a restaurant, any business where you've chatted with someone, be sure to say, "have a nice day." Hold the door and give people a helping hand when necessary. A little politeness goes a long way.

Most of that is pretty simple and self-explanatory. It's when we encounter rudeness that we sometimes react instead of replying in a polite, thoughtful manner. There is never any excuse to be rude, even when others are rude to us. In all situations and encounters, with anyone and everyone, be polite and kind. When in doubt, it's always best to remain silent. It is not always easy, and it might just be the hardest skill to master, but it can save you from a lot of future headaches. You'll be a better person for it, you'll earn the respect of other well-mannered people, and it's a true mark of being an adult.

Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.

— Buddha

8.The Time Is Now

"In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
-Benjamin Franklin

When you begin to change your mindset and attitude, you realize things you used to dwell on or worry about aren't really that important. You'll start to shift your perspective and prioritize your time.

If you have been putting off a goal or a dream, why not revisit it? Is it something you still want? If not, that's perfectly fine. Goals and dreams change as you get older. But if it is something you'd still like to do or achieve, think about how you can make it a reality. Start small and work toward achieving it. If you want to travel, start saving a little money each paycheck. If you want to learn a new skill, figure out how you can do that. Life is short. Seize the moment. Work toward making your goals happen.

9. Learn Something New Every Day

We are living in the age of technology. Information is literally at our fingertips. It doesn't matter how old or young you are, there is always a way to improve yourself and your life. Strive to learn something new every single day. Whether you get on social media and keep up with trending topics; Google a fun fact each day; Sign up to have a new word or a fact sent to your inbox daily; Sign up for a class where you can learn a new skill or take steps to learn a new language. The world is a fascinating place just waiting for you to discover something new.

10. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

As you get older you realize what truly matters. What was important at 20, isn't at 30; What works at 20, doesn't at 40. It's easy to get caught up in the worries and inconveniences of day-to-day living. Your spouse left his socks laying on the floor in the middle of the bedroom instead of throwing them in the laundry; no one thought to take out the trash bag and now it's overflowing; someone put the toilet paper on the roll the wrong way or didn't bother to replace it at all. Okay, that last one is understandably frustrating. Over is right. Under is always wrong. Why can't anyone remember that?

But seriously, in five years is any of that really going to matter? The answer is no. Living by the five, five, five rule puts everything into perspective: will this matter in five minutes? Five months? Five years? This simple rule saves everyone time and frustration over things that don't actually matter.

11. Stop and Smell the Roses

Life is short and can change in the blink of an eye. When we're young, we think we have all the time in the world. But as we get older, and as we watch our loved ones get older, we start to understand that the people we love won't be around forever. It's important to work hard. We have to make money to live and to do the things we want to do. But it's also important to take time to do the things that matter most and to spend time with those who matter most.

12. K.I.S.S.

For all areas of life, the K.I.S.S. Method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. No, I'm not calling you a name. Just keep it simple. There's no need to complicate matters by over thinking, over analyzing, and trying to make everything perfect. Don't sweat those small things, but don't sweat the big things either. Take it all one day at a time. Have fun. Enjoy your life. Keep it simple.

Don't take life too seriously. After all none of us are getting out alive anyway.

— Jill Shalvis.

© 2018 Alyssa


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 13, 2018:

I was going to read this last night but I was too tired.

I'm happy to report I follow all of these rules an guess what? I'm having the best life possible! Coincidence? I think not!

Dr Billy Kidd from Sydney, Australia on February 12, 2018:

Yes, number one is a positive attitude, which includes "Yes, I Can." Good post!