A couple of months ago, I wrote an article called "It Took Me 40 Years to Learn This, But It Can Change Your Life Now." This article was widely viewed, and I received many notes of appreciation for having opened my heart and shared those things from my personal experience.
The response was so positive, in fact, I've decided to follow it up with five additional tips that are a little more advanced and were originally cut out from the first article for space considerations. While none of these are any less important than the first slew of tips, some may be more challenging and require practice. But by using these same tips in my life I feel peaceful, content and confident within no matter what is happening around me. I believe you too can feel this way by incorporating these 5 practices into your life.
5. Be best friends with your family
I've had some pretty difficult times in my life (to put it mildly). I'm a recovering addict and alcoholic; I've been divorced twice; and I've endured various financial difficulties over the years. I learned that the one group of people I can always count on to pick up the phone no matter what is my family. I'm the second oldest of five children and my mother always used to tell us that we should be best friends with each other because one day we might be the only real friends we'd have. This has frequently turned out to be true for me.
Other groups of fair-weather friends and business associates have come and gone, but my family has always been there for me. Working to cultivate family relationships can be the most challenging yet most rewarding exercise in your life.
4. Keep an open heart no matter what. Love fully, without reservation or conditions
In the interest of full disclosure, I recently got married for the third time. Even so, this tip is not necessarily directed towards romantic relationships. In other words, I'm not saying you should have lots of girlfriends, wives, partners, companions or that you should do anything other than work to always keep your heart open. That's the only way I've found to have the possibility of connecting with another soul.
3. Learn from everyone you meet, but remember the only opinion of you that matters is your own.
If I were to guess how many people I have met in my life thus far, I would guess the number would be well over 100,000. And here's what I have observed: Everyone you meet will have some opinion of you, and though some of those opinions may be similar, none of them will be the same. Some of these people, especially family members, may have their own agenda for you and may get upset when you don't do what they want. However, live and let live and be observant. Be grateful for the other views of the world (and yourself) people show you.
At the end of the day, the only person you really HAVEto live with is yourself, so make that opinion matter and make it count for good.
2. Treat everyone with respect and don't judge. You don't always know to whom you are speaking.
I have met and chatted at length with people from all different walks of life, from movie stars and CEOs to homeless people; and I've discovered everyone essentially runs on the same desire for love and respect. My good friend Ivo Nandi (who plays Joe Masseria on TV's "Boardwalk Empire") once booked a role because he was nice to his driver. The driver, as it turns out, happened to be a long-time and very close friend to the director and to one of the main producers of the series.
Here's the truth: The heaviest weight in the world is the weight of judgment. Often we are completely unconscious of the judgments we make about appearance, mannerisms, etc. Take a deep breath, step back and make an effort to connect with someone you normally wouldn't say hello to. You might be surprised what the results are.
1. Be open to possibilities
One of my greatest struggles in life is to see things from others' perspectives and to let things unfold in an organic way. I tend to get wrapped up in my idea of how things are/should be and then I try to enforce that on the world, desperate to see MY vision come to fruition. I find that only by letting go of my idea of how things "should" be, do I have the possibility of becoming one with what is.
There are always infinite possibilities in the present moment. However, we often close ourselves off to these possibilities and limit ourselves by our biased beliefs. Given enough attention in the present moment, all ideas eventually sort themselves into what works and what doesn't.
It took me 40 years to learn and understand what it takes to truly be happy. The journey to achieve this understanding has not only been enlightening and personally helpful but has also provided me with tools to help others. Follow these tips and incorporate them into your life. I'm confident you too will find unmeasurable happiness.