In life we all hit certain milestones where we pause and reflect. For me, it was my 40th birthday. Just the number itself reminded me how many times around the sun I've traveled, and how many different lives I feel like I've led.
There have been some consistent themes that always helped me make it through the tough times, and provided an extra bonus, super happy, fun-fun in the good times.
These are my solid gold, Top 5, chart-topping favorites of my last 40-odd years. They can help you be more connected with people, avoid many interpersonal conflicts and in some cases even save your life.
5. Be present
The only moment you can do anything about is the one you're in.
I used to hear people talk about "being present" and I often wondered how to do it. In fact, I still work to do this at times.
Here are a couple of tips: Tune in to your breathing. Your lungs can only breathe today's air. They can't breathe yesterday's nor tomorrow's air. When you focus on your breathing, you are automatically locked into the moment.
You have five senses. Tune into any one of them and feel the anxiety and body stress melt away. If you feel your mind wander back into the land of your thoughts, gently bring your awareness back to your hearing, vision, touch, smell, taste or your breathing.
4. Be rebellious
. Break the rules sometimes. It's OK to disobey, you learn and teach some great lessons this way.
I'm not talking about any major laws here, but don't be afraid to live your life according to your heart's desire. People all around us have an agenda for our lives, many of which manifest as societal rules and "dealbreakers."
One of my favorite things to do is start up a chat with guys in a public restroom, which is a big social taboo. This creates a vast variety of reactions, but it is always entertaining and at least one of us always walks away smiling (usually both of us).
3. Follow your heart, pursue your dreams
. No one can live your life better than you.
Ever feel "unworthy"? Yeah, me too. I think everyone struggles with feelings of inadequacy at some point. Remember there is a reason you are here. Some people will even try to take advantage of your inadequacy and do their best to keep you feeling small. Don't let them.
I do some film acting and a commercial or two here and there. I love acting, but for years I had a tendency to let other people talk me out of it. None of these people were pursuing a passion of their own. Now my passion for acting is a baseline for my life.
2. Be grateful for everything "good" and "bad"
Some of the best things in life come from things that seem bad or difficult.
When my second wife left, I was devastated. It was genuinely one of the most painful experiences of my life. However, I committed to focus on myself. I took some time to myself, focused on grounding my soul, and looked at what activities spoke to me.
Acting had been a passion of mine in my younger days. I had quit years before because of the feedback and agenda of others in my life, and had always regretted it.
Splitting with my second wife opened the door for me to start acting again, to rediscover my passion. When I was acting, I felt like I could finally breathe again. Now I have been in 20 or so films and short films, produced two independent movies and am developing my third feature film.
I am grateful for the pain of that split, because I know it led me back to my passion. Some of the best things come from events that are hard. Be grateful for these things. The quicker you can find gratitude, the quicker you'll find the benefit of the challenge.
1. Be kind
There is a reason that this is number one on my list. Mother Teresa said, "Three things in human life are important; the first is to be kind, the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind."
The importance of kindness can not be overstated. If you have ever been the recipient of any measure of kindness or if you have ever seen the relief and love on the face of a recipient of kindness, you will know that there is nothing quite as rewarding and connecting as a kind word.
Make sure kindness an undercurrent for everything you do. It can be difficult in the face of criticism or even anger, but nothing diffuses anger and judgment better than continued kindness.
Implementing the above list is not always easy. In fact, it can often feel like nothing is more difficult, but in my experience it is always, always worth a shot.