5 Simple Rules for a Healthier, Happier Life

Everyone wants a life that is beautiful inside and out. The challenge is that you don’t get the life you want—you get the life you create. It is up to you to determine what you want in your life and then make your best effort to create such a life.

Here are five essential rules to support you in creating a life of health and happiness.

1. Show Up

Showing up doesn’t mean just being physically present. It means you engage the world with purpose. You know your goals, contexts, and roles. You are punctual, prepared, and ready to work for what you want.

As a responsible adult, you are required to show up for a variety of contexts—perhaps as a parent, spouse, sibling, or employee. Each context may have multiple roles and goals. For example, the tasks you perform as an employee and the results of your efforts (ex: sales goals, return on investment, or number of clients served).

In any context, when you truly show up, you must be physically and psychologically ready to engage in your role. You should be clear headed, enthusiastic, and focused on the goal at hand.

2. Be Present

Being present means having a consistent and mindful awareness of what is going on inside and out.

On the inside, being present means bringing your awareness to your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. This awareness can strengthen your intuition and wisdom. On the outside, being present means accurately observing the people and the events around you. This awareness can help you identify opportunities and threats.

Try not to obsess about the past or worry about the future. Keep a clear focus on the task at hand, and reduce potential distractions, such as electronics or objects of your addictions. You must be present wholeheartedly and vector your energies to the context, role, and goal at hand.

3. Seek and Speak the Truth with Wisdom and Compassion

Since life is always changing, seeking the truth is a lifetime endeavor. The more curious, committed, and courageous you are in seeking the truth, the more truth you will find. Be open to new perspectives. Pay attention to your feelings and body sensations. Observe your behaviors. These actions can help you know what is true and what is false.

As you discover your truth, communicate it with compassion and wisdom to others. Avoid attitude, judgment, or distortions. This creates a relationship that optimizes cooperation, solutions, and life-giving experiences.

4. Make Your Best Effort with Balance

You have physical and mental limitations—everyone does—and you’re constantly challenged to make choices that impact your health and happiness. You choose where to spend your time, when to invest in relationships, and how use your wisdom. When you say yes to some things, you say are saying no to others.

Pursuing unrealistic perfection in one aspect of your life can harm other parts of your life. Instead pursue a goal of excellence: Determine the optimal use of your resources to produce the optimal outcome for the full range of your goals. This requires a perspective of balance with a broad view. It means not sacrificing one context for another. It means knowing when enough is enough.

5. Let Go of the Illusion of Control

Much of life is beyond your control. You really only have control over where you place your attention and how you focus it. No matter how well you plan and execute, these things are true:

  • Life is always changing
  • No one can predict the future accurately all of the time
  • Difficult life events will occur

Accepting this reality can be painful but freeing. After you make your best effort with balance, you can remain open, curious, and flexible. You can accept what is and respond effectively when there is an opportunity for influence.

Use these Rules to Reduce Suffering

There is a simple way you can use these rules to reduce suffering. When you find yourself in pain or distress, ask these essential questions:

  • Am I showing up effectively?
  • Am I being present?
  • Am I working hard to discover the truth and voice it with wisdom and compassion?
  • Am I making my best effort with balance?
  • Am I indulging in the illusion of control?

If you ask these questions with curiosity and compassion, you will create personal inquiries that reduce your suffering, anxiety, pain, and fear. You will also move closer to the beautiful life you envision.