Let’s face it; finding direction and contentment in life can sometimes be a challenge. And while there’s an abundance of information on the Internet about how to make our lives better, much of it seems to be of very limited value. We’re prompted, for example, to simply enjoy life and laugh more (too vague) or to follow the ideas of Gandhi or Mother Teresa (not practical) or to follow a “simple” list of 150 ways to improve ourselves (too involved). So let’s talk about six clear, direct, actions that can bring dramatic improvements in your life — things that won’t require you to move to Calcutta or go on a hunger strike.
1) Develop a vision that inspires you: I’ve found that having something to work toward — something to dream of and look forward to — makes an enormous difference in my life. It improves my attitude, my outlook, my motivation, even the way I view particular events. In short, it changes everything. And I’m not necessarily talking about some vividly detailed, well-developed, grandiose objective. While those types of visions are, of course, very powerful too, something simpler can have the same powerful, uplifting effect. Frankly, this is a crucial discovery. Given the positive impact of having an idea that brightens your future, spending some time developing such an idea is time very well spent. So, give it some thought. Perhaps your inspiration will be the realization that you now have the capacity and the resources to help 10 people, in some way, over the course of the next 12 months. Maybe it’s the thought that spending two weeks with your spouse in Hawaii next year really is feasible, or perhaps you’ll set a goal to finally move to a warmer climate. It’s really whatever works for you! Try to identify an achievable, inspiring medium-term goal — it can lead to dramatic and unexpected benefits.
2) Exercise: I’ve come to believe very strongly that exercise is a central component of an enhanced life. Regardless of your age; it’s important There are, of course, lots of short and long-term health benefits that result from even moderate exercise — like walking — but the reason I mention it is the psychological effect. I find I feel better, more upbeat, more energetic and focused. These benefits can affect virtually every other aspect of your life.
3) Get a little sunshine: This one may be a bit controversial, but there is increasing evidence that at least a small amount of exposure to sunshine is essential to human health and that it improves our mental outlook. I find that I feel much better when I can get outside in the sunshine for a few minutes each morning. For addition interesting information, see this video by Doctor Richard Weller (a dermatologist) about the possible link between a lack of sunshine and heart disease. Richard Weller: Could the Sun be good be for your heart? I should add though that most doctors still recommend avoiding the sun between 11:00 and 3:00, taking care never to burn, and using sun screen.
4) Make solid decisions: Your life, and the quality of it, ends up being the sum total of the decisions you make on a day-to-day basis. So, as you go through life, try to make the best decisions possible. It’s a baffling fact that so many people continue to make bad decisions in the face of overwhelming and widely publicized evidence that they should take a different course. Specifically, avoid behaviors that are well known to carry great risk of damaging your life — such as smoking, texting while driving or drinking and driving. The impact of these bad decisions can be catastrophic! For other decisions, seek out solid information, seek others inputs, give yourself some time to consider options, get professional help if needed. This will result in better decisions and, over time, solid, repetitive, daily decisions will have a profound effect on your life.
5) Be realistic about financial matters: Like it or not, money is a reality in today’s world. Recent studies have shown that great wealth is not a prerequisite for happiness. However, these same studies have shown that being in a constant struggle to make ends meet is highly correlated with misery. What does this mean to you? It means you should take a realistic look at your finances immediately. The most important aspect is this: if you’re spending more than you’re bringing in, — you MUST make changes. If you’re putting the deficit on a credit card — you’re headed for a financial disaster! So, find ways to lower your expenses, increase your earning potential, or better yet; do both. Maybe that $100 per month cell phone bill could be reduced, or perhaps you could do without premium cable channels, or perhaps taking public transportation could reduce gas and auto maintenance expenses. There are lots of ways to save. And the best way to increase your earning potential is through training or education, the subject of the next tip.
6) Learn, Learn, Learn: It goes without saying that, here at FLYODI, we strongly believe learning is one of the most important things you can do to enhance your life. Education and training are certainly important for increasing your income potential. Just as important, a more general commitment to lifelong learning will expand your horizons and can make you a more satisfied person. In addition, a large body of research indicates that challenging our brains can virtually eliminate age-related mental decline, and help stave off serious mental diseases that result in mental incapacitation, such as Alziemers and Parkinsons’s disease. So make learning a habit of your life. With all the free resources that are now available on the Internet, there’s very little reason not to do it. See the recent FLYODI post entitled; MOOCs, MOODLEs, and Modules, Oh My, or the list of online learning resources at the bottom of this post for additional information.
7) Help others when you can. I’ve found that helping others improves my outlook substantially. I’m not sure why that is — perhaps it’s truly altruism or perhaps it just reminds me that my situation could be worse. Whatever it is, it works. And I’m not really talking about given money to the homeless man on the corner — in fact, sometimes I think that may even be counter-productive — it may not be helping them at all.. No, I’m talking about doing something that can really help someone. Perhaps becoming a member of the Big Brother/Little Brother program, or volunteering to help someone learn to read, or to speak English.
So, that’s it — a short course in hot-wiring or your life. I suppose the central question we must all ask ourselves is; what will happen in your my life if I continue doing what I’m doing. . . . does it lead to the life you want to live? Well, does it?
Online Learning Resources
Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative
Harvard Extension School
MIT Open Courseware
Open Yale Courses
Stanford Engineering Everywhere
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