Being mediocre and coasting through life is the easiest thing in the world. But it also means you're going to miss some opportunities and maybe even have some regrets when you get to the end of your days. Here are a handful of ideas about how you can be more intentional about how you spend your time.

Stop checking Facebook

It's a curated, disingenuous portrayal of your friends' lives. If you believe what you read, their marriages are only full of adoration and respect, their children are perpetually high-achieving and beautiful and their holidays always feature amazing vistas and smiles reflecting a good time had by all. Nobody posts photos of their spouse during an argument, their kid acting like a brat, or the annoyances involved with actually getting to and from a vacation destination. And researchers have found that scrolling through all this pretend perfection makes you feel less satisfied with your own imperfect life. In essence, it fosters envy, an emotion which doesn't lead to being the best version of yourself. "I think what social media has done is make everyone accessible for comparison," clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew told The Guardian. "In the past, people might have just envied their neighbours, but now we can compare ourselves with everyone across the world."

Spend time in nature

Studies have found that spending a few days in nature increases creativity by 50 percent, improves one's attention span while reducing hyperactivity and aggression. Being close to the ocean is associated with higher levels of happiness and people who reside in greener neighborhoods live longer. At the same time, hearing traffic noise adds strain to a person's heart.

Develop a habit of being calm

It's actually contagious. Instead of being someone who stresses out, be a rock for the people in your periphery by modeling self-composure and confidence. In the event of a challenging situation, take time to breathe, gather your thoughts and carve a path which is responsive and not reactive. How you handle yourself will affect how the people around you handle themselves. Will getting agitated, angry or upset help the situation? Likely not.

Take the hard road of excellence

Achieving great things doesn't happen by doing things the easy way. Successful people do the difficult work of getting out of bed early, exercising every day, keeping to-do lists, reading and being vigilant about continuous self-improvement. Envision the opposite: sleeping in, sitting around, disorganization, ignorance and a lack of growth. None of that will result in anything worthwhile. In my own case the hard road of excellence has meant going back to school during midlife to earn my second bachelor's degree. This was not fun for even one moment. Yet, as a result of this arduous work, I have secured a career which is golden and one of the occupations predicted to be safe from automation.

Be useful

Blogger Darius Foroux quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." Foroux points out that being useful doesn't need to mean changing the world, but merely making it a tiny bit better than before you existed. Is there someone you can help or something you can create today?

Published on: Oct 20, 2018