According to Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor, happiness and success cannot be pursued directly. Instead, these things are organic byproducts of quality habits and vision. As Aristotle put it, "To be excellent we cannot simply think or feel excellent, we must act excellently."
1. Pray or meditate morning, midday, and night.
"If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster."--Stephen R. Covey
How do you determine if you're going in the right direction?
If you neglect prayer and mediation, it doesn't matter how smart or productive you are. Being productive at the wrong things isn't helpful. Get clarity, so the steps you take are in the right direction.
2. Read or listen to one book per week.
Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. It is common for the world's most successful people to read at least one book per week. They are constantly learning.
3. Write in your journal five minutes per day.
Journaling is one of the best ways to facilitate happiness and success. Science has found that writing down three things you're grateful for each day chemically changes your brain to recognize positive opportunities.
Journaling also helps you synthesize what you're learning and clarify your objectives. Don't do more than a few minutes each day or you'll burn out.
4. Do something every day that terrifies you.
"A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable
conversations he or she is willing to have." -- Tim Ferriss
But you don't have to constantly be battling your fears. Actually, Darren Hardy has said you can be a coward 99.9305556 percent of the time (to be exact). You need to be courageous for only 20 seconds at a time.
Twenty seconds of fear is all you need. If you courageously confront fear for 20 seconds every single day, before you know it, you'll be in a different socio-economic and social situation.
Make that call.
Ask that question.
Pitch that idea.
Post that video.
Whatever it is you feel you want to do, do it. The anticipation of the event is far more painful than the event itself. So just do it, and end the inner conflict.
5. Say no to people, obligations, requests, and opportunities you're not interested in from now on.
"No more yes. It's either HELL YEAH! or no." -- Derek Sivers
Your 20 seconds of daily courage will consistently involve saying no to stuff that doesn't really matter. But how could you possibly say no to certain opportunities if you don't know what you want? You can't. Like most people, you'll be seduced by the best thing that comes around. Or, you'll crumble under other people's agendas.
If you know what you want, you'll have the courage and foresight to pass up even brilliant opportunities -- because ultimately they are distractions from your vision. As Jim Collins said in Good to Great, "A 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' is irrelevant if it is the wrong opportunity."
6. Make a bucket list and actively knock items off.
Most people have it backward -- they design their ambitions around their life, rather than designing their life around their ambitions.
What are the things you absolutely must do before you die?
Then design your life around those things. Or as Covey explained in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "Begin with the end clearly in mind."
7. Fast from all food and caloric beverages 24 hours once per week.
One-day (24-hour) food fasts are a popular way to maintain health and vigor. Fasting leverages the self-healing properties of the human body. Radical health improvements occur when the digestive system is given rest and the organs get ample time to repair and heal themselves.
A regular practice of fasting can:
- Improve digestive efficiency
- Increase mental clarity
- Increase physical and mental vigor
- Remove toxins
- Improve vision
- Give a general feeling of well being
Like all the other habits, fasting gets easier with practice. I've been fasting for years and it's one of the best things I have done for my health.
Fasting is also one of the most recognized techniques in religious and spiritual practices. I also use fasting to get spiritual clarity and refinement.
8. Stop consuming the news or reading the newspaper.
Although the amount of warfare and deaths by human hands are reducing globally, you will not get that message watching televised news or reading the news.
On the contrary, these media outlets have an agenda. Their goal is to appeal to your fears by inflating extreme cases -- making them seem normal and commonplace. If they didn't do so, their viewership would plummet.
Which is why Peter Diamandis, one of the world's experts on entrepreneurship and the future of innovation has said, "I've stopped watching TV news. They couldn't pay me enough money."
You can get high-quality news curated from Google news. When you detox from the toxic filth that is public news, you'll be startled as your worldview becomes radically more optimistic. There is no objective reality. Instead, we live in perceived realities and are thus responsible for the worldview we adopt.
Simple behaviors, done over a long enough period of time, yield enormous results. Give these a try.