Handbook for Life: 52 Tips for Happiness and Productivity

September 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

zen habits.

Handbook for Life: 52 Tips for Happiness and Productivity

This is something I’ve been wanting to write for some time — a Handbook for Life. Now, is there any handbook that can be a guide to every single person? Of course not. This is just a list of tips that I think will help many people in life — some of them common-sense tips […]

This is something I’ve been wanting to write for some time — a Handbook for Life. Now, is there any handbook that can be a guide to every single person? Of course not. This is just a list of tips that I think will help many people in life — some of them common-sense tips that we often forget about. Consider this guide a reminder.

It’ll also become apparent from the links in this handbook that I’ve written about this stuff before. In essence, this site is a bigger version of this handbook. But I wanted to put them all in one place, as a handy little guide. I hope you find it useful.

How to use this handbook
This handbook is not meant to be a step-by-step guide, nor should you adopt all the tips below. Certainly not all at once. That would be overwhelming. Here are a couple tips for adopting the tips:

  • Pick and choose the tips that will be most useful to you. There are 52 tips here — not every single one will be useful to every person. I hope you’ll find 10 that are useful, or that are reminders of something you’ve been wanting to do.
  • Don’t do them all at once. Choose one tip to do first, and then do them one at a time. Focus on one first, and then the next. It’s too hard to try to adopt a bunch of changes at once.
  • Experiment. Try out a tip, and if it doesn’t work, try another. Life is an experiment, after all.
  • None are guaranteed. But many are very likely to bring happiness.
  • Also, these are not in any order. Some of the most important are buried below.

52 Tips for Happiness and Productivity

(ones that I like 🙂

  1. Try rising early. It’s not for everyone, I’ll admit. It may not be for you. But I’ve found it to be an amazing change in my life. It has made the start of my days much more positive, and I now have time for writing, exercise, and silent contemplation. I talked about this recently in my post 10 Benefits of Rising Early, and How to Do It.
  2. Find your passion. Another indispensable tip. This might be the second on my list of priorities. Find something you love to do, and your life will become immensely improved. You will love your work, the thing that you spend 40 hours (or more) a week doing. You will become more productive, procrastinate less, be less stressed. You will produce something you are proud of, and happy about. Read this article for some practical tips.
  3. Lose weight. This only applies, of course, if you are overweight. But losing your extra fat (and when I say lose weight, I mean lose fat), decreases your health risks (obviously), makes you look better, and in general is very likely to increase your happiness about yourself. I actually recommend that you learn to be comfortable and happy with how you look now, and not feel negative about yourself even if you are overweight. However, I’ve found that losing weight (at least for me) is a great way to feel better about your body. Do not make this an unhealthy obsession, however — lose weight gradually, and enjoy the process. See the next two tips for the best methods for doing this.
  4. Exercise. Make this a daily habit. Exercise not only helps you lose weight, but for me, it’s made me feel so much better. I actually enjoy exercise now. It’s a time of contemplation for me, and I feel so much better about myself afterwards. See Top 42 Exercise Hacks and How to Make Exercise a Daily Habit and 7 Ways to Build the Exercise Habit.
  5. Eat healthy. I don’t recommend dieting. It’s too restrictive and you usually fall off it at some point. I do recommend changes to your diet, however — ones you make gradually, and that can be sustained for life. It not only helps lose weight, but really, once you start eating healthier, it is actually much more enjoyable. See my Top 15 Diet Hacks for more.
  6. Think positive. Another one of the most important tips on this list, thinking positive — as cliche as it might sound — is one of the single best changes you can make in your life that will lead to so many more positive tips. As I wrote about here, learning to think positive was the skill that turned my life around. It makes everything else on this list possible. Read more about it here.
  7. Simplify your finances. Cut down on the number of accounts you have, cut down on your credit cards, spend less, reduce your bills. Make your finances automagical. Simplifying your finances greatly reduces your stress. Also see 10 Habits to Develop For Financial Stability and Success.
  8. Accept what you have. The problem with many of us is that we always think that we’ll be happy when we reach a certain destination — when we get a certain job, or retire, or get our dream house. Unfortunately, it takes awhile before you get there, and when you get there, you might have a new destination in mind. Instead, try being happy with where you are, with who you are, and what you have. To do that, instead of comparing what you have with other people, or with what you want, compare yourself those who have less, with those who are going through tragedy, with those who are struggling. You will see that you actually are extremely blessed. And this can lead to more happiness with your current situation.
  9. Envision your ultimate life. What would your ultimate life be like? Where would you live, what would you do, what would you do with your days? Come up with a clear picture of this, and write it down. Now, one step at a time, make it come true. Some ways of doing that follow.
  10. Develop intimate relationships. It’s great to have a special someone, of course, but intimate relationships could be found with anyone around you. If you have a significant other, be sure to spend time each day and each week with that person, to work on your relationship and communicate and continue to bond. But if you don’t, there’s no need to despair (if in fact you are) … intimate relationships can be developed with friends, other family members, kids, roommates, classmate, co-workers. Every single person we meet is a fellow human being, with the same desires for happiness, for food and shelter, for an intimate connection. Find that common thread, be open and sincere, find out more about each other, understand each other, and give love. This can be one of the most important things you do.
  11. Eliminate debt. Financially, this is a huge way to relieve stress and make you feel much more secure. I suggest that you get rid of your credit cards (if you have a problem with credit card debt or impulse spending) and create a snowball plan for yourself. It may take a couple of years, but you can get out of debt.
  12. Enjoy the simple pleasures. You can find these everywhere. Food (I love berries!), sunsets, sand between your toes, fresh-cut grass, playing with your child, a good book and a warm bed, dancing in the rain, your favorite music. You could probably make a list of 20 simple pleasures right now, things you enjoy that you could find every day. Sprinkle those little pleasures throughout your day. It makes the journey much more enjoyable.
  13. Take time to decompress after stress. There will inevitably be times in your life when you go through high stress. Perhaps several times a week. To maintain your sanity, you need to find ways to decompress. Here are some great ways to do that.
  14. Be present. Time can go by extremely quickly. Before you know it, your life has passed you by. Your kids are grown and your youth is gone. Don’t let your life slip by — enjoy it while it’s here. Instead of dwelling in the past or thinking about the future, practice being in the here and now. Here are some practical tips for being present.
  15. Pick yourself up when you’re down. There will always be times in our lives when we get a little down, even depressed. Take action to get yourself out of your slump. Here are some great ways to do that.
  16. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is hard to do, but it can be a great way to accept who you are and what you have. Whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to a co-worker, a friend, or someone famous (those models on magazines with amazing abs), stop. And realize that you are different, with different strengths. Take a minute to appreciate all the good things about yourself, and to be grateful for all the blessings in your life.
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