The Best Year of Your Life

  1. Greet yourself when you get up each day by smiling at yourself in the mirror, remembering that yesterday is gone, that today is a new beginning, and tell yourself today will be one fine day. Be happy to be alive! You know that a happy life isn't one made up of huge triumphs each day, so you remind yourself that you will look for the many small daily joys that are the building blocks of a truly happy life.

  2. Be the first to smile and greet your family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances each day. Notice how their spirit seems to momentarily pick up a little because you smiled at them, and never underestimate the importance of that. Notice how good it feels when they smile back at you. You know that smiling at someone makes them feel good about themselves and it feels good to you to smile, so you're smart enough to realize giving someone an uplifting moment through a friendly smile is a double-blessing.
  3. We all have our secret sorrows that others know nothing about. Try to give at least one sincere compliment to someone each day. You may never know how important is was to someone, but you do know how important it is to do your part to make the world a better place. The least deserving person may be the one most in need, so the who of it doesn't matter, the do of it does. You will expect nothing in return, knowing that some of our best blessings happen because of previously unrewarded acts of kindness.

    You might also want to find one honest compliment you can give yourself each day for something. Many of us are too critical of ourselves. Self-appreciation, if not for vanity's sake, helps us to learn to like ourselves in a deeper way. The better we honestly like who we are, the more others will like us. If you can't find one thing you like about yourself each day, perhaps others are having a hard time finding one too.
  1. Make an effort to try to understand other people's points of view. Listen with undivided attention instead of thinking about your reply as they talk. Few things are 100% one-sided. Understanding others may lead to the truth somewhere in between, and being on the side of truth is always better than being off sides.
  2. Be willing to consider that you may be wrong, or have done something wrong. Apologize if you have. Apologizing never makes you smaller, it lifts the other person up from the diminished position you put them in. Their full appreciation of you can't be restored until you lift them out of the hole you put them in. An apology does this.
  1. Lighten up and keep your cool. If you're becoming angry, ask yourself one thing: Will what you're becoming angry over be important next month? Most of the time we are overreacting. Find something to laugh about each day. Laughter is medicine for the human spirit.

  2. Avoid malcontents, staunch pessimists, and other energy stealers. They do nothing to build you up, and their attitude only serves to drag you down. If they had their way, they'd drag everyone down to their level of discouragement and despair. Also be aware that we are all equals on this planet, and that even the most unlikely person can provide an important lesson in life.
  3. Be optimistic. If you're not an optimist now, this takes practice. As a reformed pessimist, I promise you it's well worth the effort. The optimist and pessimist are both right, but only one makes a constant companion of hope. Where hope is, there too dwells happiness.
  4. Read something uplifting, encouraging, and enlightening each day. Rid yourself of the mental pollution that masquerades itself as literature and entertainment. You don't eat garbage from a dumpster, don't make your mind a dumpster for garbage either. As your body becomes healthier or weaker by what you feed it, your mind is also made strong or weak by what you feed it.
  5. Spend five to ten minutes each night reflecting on the day. Try to remove your ego from your reflections and be honest with yourself. Learn what you can from it. Then place today into a box in your mind labeled Experience and put it into storage. You will only refer to it when you need to, you will not take out and drag it around when you get up tomorrow - for remember - tomorrow is a fresh beginning.

    Life is about relationships, with others and with yourself. As John Donne penned, "no man is an island." Making a habit of these simple practices will help you build better relationships. They will help you discover insights and help you live more deliberately and with more purpose. They are life-enhancing practices that will allow you to lead a happier life.

    The seeds you plant today will become the harvest you reap on an unknown tomorrow, so today is the key to your future. It has always been so, only now, you realize there is no new year, there is no new beginning at some future time, there is only today. That's how you have the greatest year of your life - one thoughtful, intelligent, joy-seeking, productive, reflective, caring, kindhearted, hopeful, purposeful, thankful day at a time.

We spend January first walking through our lives, room-by-room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives . . . not looking for flaws, but for potential.
- Ellen Goodman

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.
- Benjamin Franklin

Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear, and with a manly [brave] heart.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow