Positivity is my middle name. I’m always looking on the bright side of things, if I can. I can’t help it — it’s how my mom is and it’s rubbed off on me. I admit — sometimes it’s a stretch but normally if you just stop for one minute you can see the silver lining in any situation.
I’m always interested in new tactics for “living my best life” — as my favorite person Oprah would say. I chatted with self-help expert Alexis Sclamberg and was lucky enough to snag some of her tips so we can all be happier.
12 Ways To Improve Your Life Now
Is the thought of improving your life as exciting as it is perplexing? If you want to feel happier, less stressed, and more energized but don’t know where to begin, you’re in the right place. Below I offer 12 practices you can start doing right now to live a more joyous, meaningful life.
Each item is called a practice because it’s a daily exercise, not a quick fix, and it doesn’t require perfection to jump in. All you need is motivation and daily dedication to transform your life.
1. Think good thoughts. Most of us spend the day letting our negative thoughts trample all over our positive ones. Pay attention to your thoughts and you’ll likely hear your inner voice putting you down, anticipating the worst, cursing your coworkers or family members or that guy in the car ahead of you going so slow when you’re in a big hurry. Catch your negative thoughts and replace each with a positive one. Slowly but surely, you’ll fill up on positivity.
2. Follow your intuition. As you travel through life, people will tell you what you should do and what you’re supposed to do. Don’t listen. You’ll know the right moves for you because they will feel good deep inside. Trust your gut feeling and honor its wisdom—you’ll be happier for it.
3. Surround yourself with the right people. Spend time with the people that encourage you, enhance you, support you, and love you. Release the others from your life. Avoid the friends, family and coworkers that drain your energy, leaving you exhausted, unhappy and discouraged.
4. Give your imagination time to play. Conjure up your dream life. What does it look like? Where are you? What does it feel like? You can’t pursue your dream life if you haven’t given yourself the space to create it. You have this one life and you get to choose how to live it. Dream big and let your imagination run wild.
5. Be thankful. We’re all so busy talking about what we want that we forget to feel grateful for what we already have. Studies show that a simple gratitude practice can increase your level of happiness. List three things you’re thankful for every night before you go to sleep.
6. Pay attention. There’s a chance you’re driving through life on cruise control. Start paying more attention to your daily routine. Listen to the wind whistling through the leaves of trees, enjoy the smell of your morning coffee, and feel the cozy comfort of your favorite sweatpants. Indulge in the sights, sounds, smells, and touch of your every day life.
7. Practice authenticity. Do you spend a lot of time pretending and posturing your way through cocktail parties, interviews, and coffee dates? Try taking off the mask and asserting your real self. Living in alignment with your honest needs and feelings will be like taking a big breath of fresh air.
8. Accept change. Change is the only constant, so it’s time to start welcoming it. Stop dreading it, avoiding it, denying it, or fearing it. Start seeing change for the possibility, fun, inspiration, and growth it can bring.
9. Embrace joy. So many of us discount the things we love. What do you love to do? What makes you laugh? What makes your heart swell with happiness? Give yourself permission to do that, often.
10. Practice compassion. No one’s perfect, we all make mistakes. Go easy on yourself. Be gentle.
11. Get enough sleep. In a culture that seems to celebrate those that work until they drop, it’s sometimes hard to value rest. Sleep isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity.
12. Achieve your own success. Contrary to popular belief, success isn’t a corner office or a fat paycheck. Real success won’t just look good, it’ll feel good, too. Chase your own success.
Alexis Sclamberg is a personal development writer, speaker, and media personality. Coined “the self-help voice of Gen-Y,” Alexis is at work on her first book, Borrowed Wisdom. She contributes to publications including Forbes.com and Cosmopolitan magazine, blogs for The Huffington Post, and writes an advice column. She makes regular appearances on local and national radio, including NPR. She is an honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.