1. Think daily. Meditate. Call it what you will but spend time each day alone with your thoughts. This surely isn’t the first time you’ve heard that advice, there’s a reason for that! There’s also a reason that this is the first step in the list. Doing the other things in the remaining nine suggestions without taking some time to reflect almost negates any benefit gained elsewhere.
2. Get in the zone. Not only will these be your most productive moments in life (the 20% of the time where you accomplish 80% of the results) but it will be a boost to your confidence that will alter the decisions you make elsewhere in life.
3. Make it a point to do something bold every day. Step out of your comfort zone, leave the routine even if for only a second. This might mean talking to someone that you generally wouldn’t talk to or starting a project that you feel intimidated by. There is no need to plan it in advance–though that might help at times, usually though you’ll find a point during the day when ‘two paths diverge in the woods’ and you have the change to take the one less travelled by. Take it.
4. Learn something new. Pick a topic, preferably something you know nothing about and learn something about it. A good source of inspiration for this can be the newspaper or Wikipedia. It helps to retain it if you have time to make a note of what you learned or explain it to someone else, but even if you don’t get the chance to do that, your brain will thank you for the new patterns you introduce as you learn something new every day.
5. Debate something. If you think you know about something, nothing will prove it like arguing it with someone who’s smarter or more informed than you. Find a friend you can debate with who has ideas that are different from your and who won’t be offended by debating them–this is easier said than done, but it can provide you with some of the best mental stimulation possible.
6. Spend time with a child. If you have one, consider yourself lucky, if you don’t, I bet you have friends who would be happy to let you borrow theirs for a few minutes (or hours). It doesn’t matter what age they are, children see the world entirely different. Look at it from their eyes. Be their hero. Appreciate what they appreciate. Enjoy the simple things again. You’ll love it and they’ll love you for it.
7. Go outside. If you don’t naturally spend time outside, make it a point to do it more. There’s something about the expanse of the sky that will bring out your inner philosopher.
8. Recognize what makes you happy. Reflect on the parts of your day that bring you real satisfaction. Everyone is working towards something, but what makes you happy now? Rate your overall satisfaction with your quality of life for each day on a scale of 1 to 10, focus on the things that happened that pushed the number higher rather than what made it lower. Try to incorporate more of what made you happy yesterday into today.
9. Stop broken thoughts. Broken thoughts are those subtle patterns that aren’t quite big enough to fall into the bad habits category. This means that despite their harmful effect they often escape under the radar. Broken thoughts often take the form of justifications. Examples? I’m just going to leave my dish here by the sink, I’ll wash it later (when you know your spouse will end up washing it). I’m bookmarking this article to read later (how often do you ever go back and read old bookmarked articles?). I’ll hang my shirt up later (when you know it will be there for a week before you touch it).
10. Don’t stress about it.