Mainstream media tends to glorify success stories, making us believe that they happen in spectacular breakthrough moments, where major transformation and shifts occur that instantaneously change our lives forever. And while that does occasionally happen, the truth is that 99% of the time, major breakthroughs, transformations and improvements in quality of life are the result of positive daily habits and shifts, practiced diligently over time. Success is not an event, but a discipline. Health, wealth and happiness virtually always accumulate over time, like a muscle strengthening with repeated use.
By incorporating all of the powerful practices outlined below into your daily routines, you are literally planting the seeds for greatness—for a massively fulfilling life filled with health, wealth and happiness that continues to bear fruit as long as you live. It is through our habits and daily practices that we condition ourselves to become whoever and whatever we want to be. As Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” You can train your mind through routine and consistency to think and act in a way that automatically creates happiness, health and prosperity, the popularity of mindfulness being a shining example of this truth. Practiced long enough, it becomes inevitable that you will have the outcome you desire, whatever that is, with simple perseverance and action being the only necessary ingredients to actualize your dreams.
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.”
— Jim Rohn
1. Hold a Vision for a Better Future
Vision is powerful. So powerful, in fact, it has created every meaningful thing in the history of humankind, and it can be used to create everything from great empires and works of art to radiant health, wellness, happiness and wealth when focused in the proper manner. Everything that man has ever created first existed as a vision within the mind and that includes conditions both in the outer and inner (mental, emotional, physical) worlds. Vision can be used to coordinate great projects, involving thousands of people, or directed towards self healing and actualization in pursuit of a richer and more fulfilling experience of life.
What you predominantly hold in your vision or imagination, depending on the term you prefer, when combined with focused action in that direction will eventually result in the thing or idea becoming a reality in your life. So if you want health, wealth and happiness then you must be consistently focused on that outcome, taking inspired action (more on that later) in pursuit of that goal. Eventually you will end up where you want to be. Always remember the distinction between doing your best and doing whatever it takes. Most people simply do their best, but if you commit to doing whatever it takes, you WILL eventually get what you want. This is a key difference between those who are successful and fulfilled and those who settle for less than they are capable of.
The Practice: Spend at least 10 minutes per day, and ideally as long as possible, holding the vision for your future reality and self. To give you an example of what’s possible with just a few minutes of focused visioning, take the story of Dina Proctor, who used a short, daily visualization exercise to heal her body of chronic illness and significantly alter her bloodwork. You can read more about her incredible and rapid healing journey here along with her interview with famed stem cell biologist and epigenetics researcher Bruce Lipton going into more depth on the power of visioning and the mind.
2. Take Inspired Action in the Direction of Your Dreams
Vision is foundational, but without action, it is just that, a vision. Action transforms vision into reality. It sets things in motion and is one of the greatest creative forces in our lives. But don’t just take any action. You must take inspired action, meaning that you act from a place of joy, excitement and inspiration, not fear, worry and insecurity. Actions taken from a place or mindset of fear, worry and insecurity create more fear, worry and insecurity. Consequently actions taken from a place of joy, excitement and inspiration create more of the same. So if you want to move your life in a positive direction, combine your vision with focused, inspired action.
How do you know which action to take? Whichever feels most expansive, exciting, inspired or joyful. These are what I call “compass emotions” pointing you in the direction of almost effortless, highly pleasurable self-actualization and inevitably more happiness, health and wealth should you follow the path to its completion. An important distinction is that sometimes your inspired actions may not seem to be directly in line with or related to your end goals. This is an illusion. The path you are on is not always a straight line, sometimes you must take a step back in order to take two forward. Sometimes you must first go left around an unseen challenge or obstacle before you can move right back on to the path. Trust that your excitement, inspiration, joy and the feeling of expansiveness are leading you down the path of least resistance. There are more factors and influences at work than we can ever truly understand. Trying to navigate with logic and planning doesn’t work in the long run because we can never see all the factors and circumstances involved. Just like a game of chess, a few moves out and all the possible combinations of scenarios becomes too complex to process and understand and logical planning begins to fail. Your emotional intelligence is the best shot you have at making a smooth journey down the path because it operates at an intuitive level, which is not limited by the same restraints as purely logical thinking. Logic and intuition combined with a tendency to follow your intuitional calibration more than logic is the fastest path to fulfillment and success.
The Practice: Take at least one but up to as many inspired actions as you can daily towards creating your vision. The more you take, the faster you’ll see the results you’re after.
3. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways
The biggest thing standing between you and the life you want for yourself is fear, plain and simple. And the truth is that we are not actually afraid of a situation, we are only afraid of how that situation (or the thought or idea of that situation) makes us feel. You see, most of us operate unconsciously according to a very simple set of rules known as the pain/pleasure principle. It states that we will always seek to avoid pain more than we will act to pursue or experience pleasure. That means we will tend to avoid those things that make us feel pain—and that goes for either actual physical pain or emotional pain. Fear (or anxiety, worry, despair, sadness, etc.) is a form of emotional pain, and so we avoid doing those things that trigger fear because it is intensely unpleasant. That means, for example, that if you are afraid of failing, you will only do those activities that you believe will cause the least amount of failure (or trigger the fear of failure least) as way of avoiding the emotional pain associated with that specific fear, which is a stronger driver than the pursuit of possible success.
The irony in all this is that we aren’t actually afraid of any given scenario or event, we are only ever really afraid of the emotional pain that thinking of or experiencing that event might cause (keyword there is might). However, therein lies a success and happiness hack. When we go through an experience that previously made us fearful, and we get through it just fine or even better than before, it fundamentally rewires our association of the event or experience with fear and that emotional pain is either partially or entirely erased. Typically, doing something that scares you a few times is enough to reduce any associated fear by about 80-90% or completely in many cases, which in both scenarios is enough to basically eliminate its influence from your life. And as an added bonus, waiting for you on the other side is a new found sense of confidence and courage.
By making a total and utter commitment to feel the fear and do it anyways, you will make rapid progress towards creating success, happiness, wealth and whatever else you want but are afraid to go after for whatever reason.
The Practice: Every day do at least one thing that scares you and make a commitment to yourself that whenever something brings up fear for you, you automatically decide you must do it. This is a surefire way to transform your life and develop real, lasting confidence and courage in a very short period of time.
4. Accept the Wisdom of the Moment
Suffering (the opposite of happiness) is the result of resisting whatever is happening in your life or longing for your life to be different than it is. Peace and happiness are found in the moment by accepting whatever is happening without resistance. That doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it or even like it, but it does mean you need to stop resisting. However, the irony is that when you stop resisting what is happening in your life, things that you think you don’t particularly like or feel are counterproductive, you find great wisdom in them and eventually develop an appreciation for everything, including challenges and obstacles, because you understand they are showing you where you still need to grow and giving you new insights and skills needed for later fulfillment and success.
And let me be clear that acceptance does not mean simply giving up and accepting your life is not as great as you might want it to be and not doing anything about it. It means you accept whatever is showing up for you. If that is a strong desire to change your life, then be with it and do it. Change your life, but do not resist where you are now, understand that it is a stepping stone to where you want to be, especially when you apply the other ideas, habits and principles in this article. You will eventually get where you want to go and the path will be much smoother and far more effortless when you practice radical acceptance along the way. The vast majority of the time we are the ones creating the suffering and struggle in our lives and acceptance is the key to ending that tendency in short order.
The Practice: Every morning when you wake up, set the intention to practice radical acceptance of everything that shows up in your life that day. And if you fall short of that goal, then practice radical acceptance with yourself by being ok with that and deciding to play at a higher level the next day and then in a paradoxical way, you will have moved fully back into acceptance once again.
5. Eat As Nature Intended, In Balance (and Get a Little Exercise)
Notably absent from the discussion up until this point has been how to create lifelong health and while it is tangentially related to the above points, it has its own nuances which require special insights and knowledge.
There are essentially only three core things you need to know about diet and health in general to really set yourself up for lifelong success in this area (note: while the topic is certainly more complex and nuanced than this, the truth is that if you obey these three core principles you will address about 90-95% of the physical issues that cause health problems. There is a mind-body component as well but that is beyond the scope of this article.)
- Eat only whole, fresh, natural and ideally organic, biodynamic or wildcrafted foods as close to their natural state as possible. Anything processed beyond basic cooking methods is more or less harmful to your health. Anything synthetic or made in a laboratory is harmful to your health. Anything refined and stripped of essential nutrients is harmful to your health. Anything grown with chemicals (pesticides, fertilizers, GMO’s, etc.) is harmful to your health. Eat as nature intended and you can seldom go wrong.
- Always strive to eat a balanced diet. Despite what you may have heard from different gurus and dietary philosophies (paleo, raw, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.), foods that fit into the description outlined in point one above are all more or less healthy, that is, when they are eaten in balance. Each class of foods supplies its own unique balance of nutrients: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and so on and excluding or restricting any one of them unduly will, over time, negatively affect your health by depriving your body of needed nutrients and sending it out of balance. Some foods are building, other foods are cleansing; some foods are stimulating, other foods are calming; fats supply certain nutrients and stimulate certain organs just as do grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meats and dairy. There is one caveat here: if a food causes you to have a negative reaction then at first, avoid it. But do not simply stop there. Discover why it is happening, and if possible, seek to heal the underlying cause.
- Movement in some form is essential to health. Whether that is through yoga, walking, dance, running, swimming, lifting weights, aerobics, etc. does not really matter. Do whatever form of exercise you most enjoy and resonates with who you are and your body. Movement stimulates an incredible array of processes and pathways in the body essential for health. It stimulates and exercises nearly all of your organs from your brain to your heart and everything in between; it oxygenates the blood, it catalyzes detoxification pathways in the body, it clears out stuck energy in the nervous system and meridians and on and on. It doesn’t have to be strenuous or intense or an endurance sport, although it certainly can be. It doesn’t even have to be challenging and if its fun you’re more likely to make it a long term habit.
The Practice: Eat only whole, fresh natural and ideally organic, biodynamic or wildcrafted foods as close to their natural state as possible as often as possible. It’s worth the extra effort to seek out foods that fit this bill. You will notice substantial improvements in your health, mood, energy and more. Try to eat foods daily from all food groups and generally go for variety in your diet. And finally, spend at least 10-15 minutes per day moving your body in some way shape or form according to what is most fun and inspiring for you.