The actions we take today cultivate the realities we experience tomorrow.
As a society largely encouraged to “live in the moment,” it is important for us to evaluate what day-to-day habits we’ve acquired that will affect our futures.
Sure, we know we need to floss each day, wear SPF and never smoke. However, there are a number of other habits we should start adopting that will benefit us not only today, but also for years to come.
You know how older people are often described as stubborn and "stuck in their ways"? Make sure that when you get to an age when your habits and beliefs are set in stone, they’re ones you’re happy to have; ones that exercise your best interests and work in your favor.
This is a decade of adjustment and growth. While we’re still young enough to frequently change our minds and behaviors, we’re old enough that we should make these changes count.
The decisions we make now will slowly start to habituate and root themselves in the foundation of our character. Here are some of the habits your future self will thank you for having:
1. Knowing the difference between what you want and what you need.
Too often, we waste money on things because we think we need them when, really, we would be just fine without them. We convince ourselves we need to stay in unhealthy relationships because we want to make them work.
There is also a big difference between what you want and what you deserve. Sometimes, life gives us what we need, rather than what we (think we) want. Sometimes, we don’t get what we want because it’s not what we deserve.
Learn to trust the universe and have faith in the idea that it has your best interests at heart. Sometimes, we aren't given what we want because what we need is right around the corner.
2. Giving people the benefit of the doubt
There's a difference between being guarded and being jaded. Yes, the world will hurt you.
People will take advantage of you and screw you over. However, living your life by keeping any type of vulnerability at bay will cause you to miss out on a lot of opportunities and relationships. Don’t write people off too soon; give them a chance to rise to the occasion. There is a lot more good out there than bad.
3. Learning how to say "no"
When it comes to our friends, family, jobs and society, we’re in constant demand. Learning not only how to say no, but what to say no to, is an integral ingredient for a happy and healthy life. Our time here is limited; we shouldn’t waste a moment on people or things that don’t feed into our happiness.
4. Having healthy coping mechanisms
Some people complain; some isolate; many people drink.
Finding a healthy coping mechanism is important for dealing with the wide array of bullsh*t life will throw your way. As we grow older, the problems don’t stop; they just change. If we isolate ourselves, or get drunk every time another problem manifests on our paths, we’ll endure a lot of unnecessary turmoil (and hangovers).
5. Finding an exercise that doubles as therapy
Finding an exercise that you can use as an escape from reality — one to calm you down after a stressful day or refocus yourself after an overwhelming situation — is better than any therapist out there. You will become reliant on it for sanity, and your body will thank you in the process.
6. Being alone and being okay with it
Whether you go out to grab something quick to eat or you're on the hunt for a new partner, acquiring the ability to confidently spend time alone is essential.
Dependence is never a good thing, but depending on another person for your well-being is self-destructive. Being happy on your own will allow you to reach a level of self-love and appreciation that other people can’t supplement.
7. Going the extra mile and working passionately
Always go hard and fast in the direction of your dreams and don’t let anyone slow you down. As Jim Carrey so wisely put it, “You can fail at something you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
You can’t leave behind any kind of legacy in this world if you aren’t able or willing to finish what you start.
8. Thinking for yourself
Before you dig your heels deep in a particular belief or opinion, check to make sure you don't feel the way you do just because society tells you it's how you should. Think for yourself; defy norms. Just because you have a different opinion doesn’t mean it's wrong. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
9. Letting go of what you can't control
People can spend years of their lives dwelling on something over which they have no control and it does nothing but make them miserable.
There will always be things we can’t control, regardless of how aggressively hard we try. When a person stops loving us, when we get turned down for a job, when we lose our debit cards, when we shatter our iPhones, or whatever it is, excessive worrying is about as useless as decaffeinated coffee.
It's never too late for improvement. While total transformations are not possible overnight, making minor adjustments in the areas of life that don’t satisfy us ensures progress.
One of the worst mistakes a person can make along the journey to happiness and fulfillment is thinking his or her efforts, however small, are futile. Every thought we have and every action we make propels us further along our paths.
Every now and then, slow down to make sure you like where you're headed. Be conscious of the way you spend your time, evaluate the attitudes you acquire, and make sure the patterns of your life are designed with the best of intentions.