Happiness doesn’t start with a relationship, a vacation, a job… or an election. It starts with your thinking and what you tell yourself today. Remind yourself of this truth. And remind yourself that the absolute best lessons we learn in life are the lessons we learn over and over again. The human mind needs lots of proactive reminders—lots of practice—to operate effectively through thick and thin. For example, deep down, we know it’s OK to…
- Say “no.”
- Speak up
- Tell the truth
- Believe differently
- Change our mind
- Prioritize our needs
- Learn from our mistakes
- Embrace our imperfections
- Forgive and seek forgiveness
- Begin again, stronger than before
Yet, we often seek the exact opposite when life gets stressful, and we’re under pressure.
We do the wrong things, even when we know better.
Because the human mind has weaknesses, it becomes forgetful and insensible when it’s stressed. And the only way to conquer these weaknesses is to practice conquering them.
Now is the time to practice!
Are you ready?
The bottom line is that life will get better when you get better on the inside. Take this to heart. Start investing in yourself mentally and emotionally. Make it a priority to learn and grow a little bit every day by building positive rituals and sticking to them. The stronger you grow and become, the better your life will feel in the long run.
The best ritual for beginning this process?
Daily Quotes and Notes
It’s all about keeping the right thoughts at the top of your mind every day, so they’re readily available on those inevitable days (like today) when you need them most. For me, that means pausing frequently and reflecting on precisely what we need to remember. I write myself little quotes and notes like the ones below and then I place them where I can easily see and reference them throughout the day (mine are taped on the wall directly in front of my desk). These bite-sized bits of wisdom keep me on track by keeping my mind centered and empowered with positive, proactive trains of thought.
So, my challenge to YOU is to start practicing alongside me today.
To get started, recite one of the quotes below—perhaps just the ones that resonate most—and place them somewhere you can see them. Then, whenever you catch yourself feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, or confused about the next best step, pause for a minute and quietly read them to yourself. See how doing so gradually changes the way you think through life’s present twists and turns and potholes…
- You can’t control how other people behave. You can’t control everything that happens. What you can control is how you respond to it all. In your response is your power.
- The biggest and most complex obstacle you will ever have to overcome is your own mind. Let that sink in. You aren’t responsible for everything that happens to you in life, but you are responsible for undoing the self-defeating thinking patterns these undesirable outcomes create.
- The goal is to change your response to what you can’t control. To grow so strong on the inside that nothing on the outside can affect your inner wellness without your conscious permission.
- The older you grow, the more quiet and focused you become. Life humbles and enlightens you gradually as you age. You realize just how much nonsense you’ve wasted time on. And you realize just how precious today truly is.
- Train your mind to see what’s right. Positivity is a choice. The peace and happiness of your life heavily depend on the quality of your thoughts today.
- Your struggles are helping you grow in ways you can’t imagine. It might be hard to see right now, but one day you’ll look back and realize things had to happen the way they did to get you to where you are. Trust that today’s challenges will be responsible for your future growth.
- Peace does not mean to be in a space where there is no chaos, trouble, or hard realities to deal with. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and remain mentally, emotionally, and physically centered.
- If you wait until you feel 100% ready, you will be waiting for the rest of your life. Realize this! Some people wait all day for 5 pm, all week for Friday, all year for the holidays… all their lives for happiness. Don’t be one of them.
- Be patient today, but don’t just sit there. Patience in life is not about waiting—it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.
- Start replacing the phrase “I have to” with “I get to” whenever you catch yourself complaining. So many activities we complain about are things others wish they had the chance to do. Not everyone has the same resources and options right now.
- As you struggle forward in the days and weeks ahead, remind yourself, it is far better to be exhausted from lots of effort, learning, and growth than it is to be tired of doing absolutely nothing.
- Our character is most evident at our highs and lows. Be humble at the mountaintops, strong in the valleys, and faithful in between. And on tough days when you feel you can’t endure, remind yourself that your track record for getting through hard days has been 100% so far.
- Ten years from now, it won’t really matter what shoes you wore today, how your hair looked, or what brand of clothes you wore. What will matter is how you lived, how hard you loved, and what you learned along the way.
- If you have the power to make someone happy today, do it. The world desperately needs more of that right now.
- Build friendships with people who aren’t your age. Spend time around those whose first language isn’t English. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from the same social class. Listen. Be humble and teachable. This is how you learn and grow. This is how you see the world.
- You’ll always be too much for someone—too sensitive, too big, too loud… too edgy. And if you round out your edges to make them happy, you’ll lose your edge. Take this to heart! Apologize for your mistakes—for being human. But don’t apologize for being who you are.
- You will never find your whole worth in another human being—you find it in yourself, and then you will attract those from all backgrounds who are worthy of your energy. Realize this. Accept and acknowledge your own worth. Stop waiting for others to tell you how important you are. Tell yourself. And believe it.
- Dozens of times throughout your life, you’ll outgrow what you thought you couldn’t live without and fall in love with what you didn’t even know you wanted. Life will lead you on hard yet necessary paths you’d never travel by choice. Don’t be afraid. Have faith. Trust the journey.
- It’s not too late. You aren’t behind. You’re exactly where you need to be. Every step is necessary. Don’t judge or berate yourself for how long your journey is taking. We all need our own time to travel our own distance.
- Appreciate your progress today. You’ve been through a lot, but you’ve grown a lot too. Give yourself credit for your resilience and how far you’ve come.
Use Visual Reminders, Too
Written quotes and notes like the ones above are powerful, but they merely scratch the surface of possibilities for daily self-reflection. For instance, I have a photo of my family on my desk, because I love looking at them and because, when life and work get really tough, these photos remind me of the people I am ultimately working and living for. It’s so simple, but it helps.
I also know of other people who successfully use similar visual reminders daily. A friend of mine who has paid off nearly $100K of debt in the past five years has a copy of his credit card balance taped to his computer monitor at home; it serves as a constant reminder of the debt he still wants to pay off. Another friend kept a photo of herself when she was 90 pounds heavier on her refrigerator as a reminder of the person she will never be again.
Think of moments when you are most likely to give in to impulses that keep you stuck and take you further away from your best intentions. Use written quotes, notes, and visual reminders to interrupt those negative impulses and keep yourself on track.