We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit, according to Greek philosopher Aristotle. The world is changing faster than you can wrap your head around new ideas, but the keys to happiness and success are timeless.
Here are my favourite nine timeless habits I have observed in the happiest people I’ve had the fortune of knowing.
1. Practise visualisation
Keeping your eye on the prize will keep you motivated, no matter what hurdles come your way .Set clear, action-oriented goals down on paper and visualise yourself achieving them. It’s a key habit emphasised on in several classic self-help books.
2. Face challenges
Replace the word problem with challenge and you’ll witness the wealth of opportunities that a perceived setback offers. This simple paradigm shift will have you applying your skills and talents, learning new things and becoming part of the solution rather than a hindrance to the people around. Truly happy people don’t bury their heads in the ground like an ostrich in times of crisis; rather, they go where the action is and face the war zone with the chin up.
3. Know your strengths
Successful people know what they are good at and also where their weaknesses lie. Do a SWOT (strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats) on yourself so you have faith in your own abilities. Self-belief and confidence will give you the inner guidance to establish the routines and habits that will put you on the road to success.
4. Get quality sleep
Sitcoms, movies, books and partying keeping you up till the wee hours? Staying up late may sound fashion able, but consider the health hazards of sleep deprivation — a grumpy and foggy you the next morning. So, get an average of eight hours of sleep a night so you wake up re-energised.
5. Make exercise a habit
Truly successful people understand that not only is exercise good for your body and heart, it also pumps more oxygen to the brain, releases happy hormones and improves your state of mind. Irrespective of whether it’s a brisk jog in the park or a serious weight-bearing exercises at the gym in the evening, daily exercise boosts overall well-being.
6. Read widely
Reading nourishes the mind. Pick up the newspaper in the morning, unwind with a novel before bedtime or read self-help books during your break to sharpen your mind and gain perspective.
7. Dress right
What you wear affects how you feel about yourself and your general conduct. Wear neat, clean, work-appropriate clothes to get in the right mindset, depending on your plans for the day .A neat and clean appearance will also create a good first impression for associates in work-related interactions.
8. Don’t hold grudges
Instead of lifting you up and having you experience the lightness of being, grudges will weigh you down and rob you of energy and precious time. Make it a habit to forgive someone new every day. You’ll be able to move forward in life and focus on the things that really matter. Don’t forget to forgive yourself every day for mistakes you could’ve avoided, and also the things you wanted to, but didn’t do.
9. Be kind
Be kind to people wherever possible, for instance, opening the door for someone or greeting the person in the building lift with a warm smile. Simplify your day and keep your eyes open for opportunities to be kind.
Here’s how to find happiness in your life…
- Write yourself a letter listing your good qualities and why you make a good friend. If you don’t appreciate yourself, how can you expect other folks to see what makes you wonderful.
- Buy bubble machines and invite friends and neighbours to play.
- Bake cookies and give them away to a stranger. Such random acts of kindness will bring inner joy that can’t be replicated.
- Let go of the old. This holds especially true for women since we tend to hold on to past memories instead of creating new ones, past loves instead of finding new romance, outdated ways of doing things instead of looking for something new and extraordinary.
- Make a note for a friend. It could be something as simple as telling them you were thinking about them to a slogan like JOMO (the joy of missing out). A spur-of-the-moment email to a friend with a compliment about something she was wearing will bring a smile to her face, and to yours when you send it.
- Break the rules… sometimes. For instance, you don’t need to read a boring suspense novel cover-to-cover when all you want to find out is the name of the murderer. Permit yourself to skip parts of the story and speed read to the end.
(A version of this post was first published in The Times of India)