1. Loosen your grip.
Trying to micromanage every little thing every moment is stressful. Life should be touched, not strangled. Sometimes you’ve got to relax and let life happen without incessant worry and micromanagement.
Starting now, let go before you squeeze too tight. Take a deep breath. When the dust settles and you can once again see the forest for the trees, take the next step forward. You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going every single second to be headed somewhere great. Everything in life is in perfect order whether you understand it yet or not. It just takes some time to connect all the dots.
2. Focus forward.
You can’t go back to how things were, or how you thought they were supposed to be. All you really have is now. The smartest thing you can control in life is your reaction to what’s beyond your control. Dwelling on negativity from the past simply contributes to its power. So stop focusing on what happened and start focusing on what’s going to move you forward.
Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects – whether you’re happy and successful or not depends greatly on which aspects you focus on. The best thing you can do now is to let go of what you can’t control, and invest your energy in the things you can.
3. Check one lingering task off your to-do list.
Putting something off instantly makes it harder and scarier. What you don’t start today won’t be finished by tomorrow; and there’s nothing more stressful than the perpetual lingering of an unfinished task.
You know that thing you’ve been meaning to do, but you keep putting it off and it keeps nagging at you from the back of your mind. Stop the nagging by taking action now! (Read Getting Things Done.)
4. Spend an hour working on something that moves you.
When you strike that fine balance between the challenge of an activity and your skill at performing it, when the rhythm of your work feels in sync with your purpose, when you know that what you’re doing makes a difference, you become absorbed in the task at hand to the point where time ceases to exist. This is what true passion and happiness feels like.
So is there anything you do on a regular basis that makes you forget what time it is?
On your average day, flow experiences like these are those flashes of intense living when you’re engrossed in a meaningful task that makes you feel more alive. These optimal experiences can happen when you’re engaged in work, paid or unpaid, that move you. Work like this is something you should be pursuing for at least an hour on a daily basis.
5. Try something totally new.
Step out of your comfort zone and try something totally new. What have you wondered about doing, but haven’t had the courage or time to try? Aim for something small that you can accomplish in an hour or less. It can be a whole new activity or just a small experience, such as talking to a stranger.
Variety truly is the spice of life. You can see or do something a million times, but you can only see or do it for the first time once. As a result, first time experiences often lift our spirits and our consciousness.
So what’s new to YOU?
6. Help someone smile.
There is no exercise better for the improvement of our world than reaching down on a daily basis to lift someone up. Don’t wait for people to smile. Show them how. Do something nice for someone who has no way of paying you back. Do it because you can, and because it makes the world a happier place.
When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less. I promise, it will be an extremely rewarding experience. And your small gesture just might touch a wound that only kindness can heal. (Read The Happiness Project.)
7. Spend time with a friend who improves you.
You can go through life and make new friends every year – every month practically – but there is no substitute for the few who truly improve you. These aren’t the people who are simply nice to you; they’re the ones who help you uncover the things that are holding you back. In subtle ways, they bring ideas to your attention that change your life. These friends don’t just sit beside you unknowingly; they shake your world up, reveal your obstacles and weaknesses, and remain a part of your life because they care.
Friends like this are the most important people you will ever meet because they tear down the invisible walls you have built in your mind. In other words, they come into your life and reveal new, valuable layers of yourself that you would never have discovered without them.
Spend some time chatting with one of these people today.
8. Muse on life’s goodness.
You deserve some time every day in which worries don’t get in the way of your happiness. Moments when, even if some people are insensitive or unkind around you, you’re not going to mind because you realize that the blessings you have received are far greater than the burdens you are dealing with. You can create time like this for yourself today. There is power in positivity.
Think about the goodness. Be grateful for all the blessings you already have. We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. What if you gave someone a gift and they neglected to thank you for it? Would you be likely to give them another one? The daily events in your life respond the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must be grateful for what you already have.
9. Give yourself some “me time.”
Yes, you have battles out in the world to fight, insecurities to overcome, loved ones to contend with, and goals to achieve, but a break from it all is necessary. It’s perfectly healthy to pause and let the world spin without you for a while.
Go ahead and set aside some “me time” to be alone with your own thoughts today. Enjoy the space between the commotions. Say nothing, think quietly, just be and breathe. Give yourself an opportunity to discover who you really are, and to figure out why you truly are always alone… and why that’s perfectly OK. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” and “Happiness” chapters of “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.”)
10. Be right here, right now.
I purposely left this point for last because it perfectly encompasses all the previous points. Be present. It’s being here now that’s important. Don’t let your life slip by. Pay attention to what’s happening in and around you; don’t just hurry through to the next thing.
You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to live is to press play. So instead of dwelling on what happened earlier today, or worrying about what might happen later on, just practice being and living in this moment. This moment, after all, is the only time guaranteed to you. Right now is all there ever truly is. Right now is life. Open your eyes so you don’t miss it.
You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once. The rest of today is a brand new day – a fresh start. Replace negativity with positivity. Think happy thoughts. Exercise your mind and body. Healthy is happy. Inspire yourself. Create. Laugh. Run. Play. Love. Learn. Give someone a compliment. Perform a random act of kindness. Take a chance on an idea you believe in.
You have the opportunity to do these things every single day – to make the necessary changes and slowly become the person you want to be. You just have to decide to do it. Decide that today is the day. Say it: “This is going to be my day, starting now!”
What would you add to the list? What’s one way to make the rest of today amazing? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
By Angel Chernoff