Warning: Do not read this article if you’re going to treat it as “just another self-improvement article.” If you do that, it’s worthless.
Honest question: Do you want to shift your life in some way?
Do you want to feel more vitality, joy, meaning, and purpose in the day-to-day?
Are you sure?
Because understanding how to do this is actually pretty straightforward.
It’s the implementation part that’s difficult.
In ~1,500 words, right now, I can give you sufficient wisdom to level up your conscious experience.
What I can’t do is put these principles into practice for you. You have to do that.
Chew on that for a moment.
This could be just one of thousands of articles you read about changing your life, without ever really digging in and putting the insights into practice.
Or, this could be the one that sticks.
Naturally, I can’t cover everything here. But I really believe that these 12 principles will take you quite far.
If you’re sure you actually want to do what’s necessary to reach a higher level of well-being and love for life, let’s get into it.
1. Everything worthwhile starts with pure intention.
Fuck, this is important. I really can’t stress it enough. Integrity, man. Integrity.
Stop doing things with half-hearted, shady, impure, or hazy intentions.
Please stop. Find the things to do and ways to live that you can execute with 100% pure, honest, clear, good intentions, and follow that path till you turn to bone dust.
2. Ruthlessly limit time on social media.
Seriously. Use it way less than you are currently. Take extended breaks. Delete the apps from your phone. Use Freedom or other tools to block the sites.
Social media environments have become almost completely toxic: highly anxiety-producing and attention-fragmenting. To understand in vivid detail why this is true, listen to this.
3. Take full ownership of the current state of your life.
Stop making excuses. Take responsibility.
I get it: Shitty things have happened to you. Life isn’t fair—some people get the short end of the stick. But bemoaning this fact and adopting a resentful victim mentality won’t help you at all; it will corrode you from within, like acid.
If you believe you are a victim and you’re destined to be perpetually shit on by reality, that belief will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We often self-sabotage, procrastinate, and play the victim because we’re afraid of stepping into our true power. Believing you have the power to live a beautiful life is the first step to doing so.
4. Spend way less time doing things that create no value.
You may not realize it, but doing things that create no value is depressing the shit out of you. Humans need to do things of value to feel purpose—ideally things you choose to do because you’re intrinsically motivated, not because of external forces.
Watching TV, playing video games, gambling, shopping, ingesting substances, mindlessly scrolling the Internet, watching porn, etc. are activities that, as a rule of thumb, create little to no value for others. They’re mere acts of consumption. Shift from consuming to creating value.
What does it look like to create value? Glad you asked…
5. Pour your best effort into doing useful and/or beautiful things.
Build rocking chairs. Do stand-up comedy. Volunteer at an effective organization. Make YouTube videos. Write poems. Start a company with a genuinely world-improving purpose.
Initially it doesn’t matter so much what you do/create, so long as you’re aiming to do/make something useful and/or beautiful. Just start something immediately, and your path will begin to clarify.
And here’s the key: Do it as well as you possibly can. There’s a magical fulfillment that comes with giving your 100% best to everything you do.
6. Get enough sleep and eat less shitty food.
Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard this shit 800 times, but that’s because it’s fucking true. Don’t overlook this. It’s possibly the greatest, simplest life hack of all time. You’ll feel dramatically better if you consistently get 7-8 hours, eat way less processed/fast food, drink mostly water (and a lot of it), and eat a lot more whole, organic, real food that you cook yourself.
7. Always make time to really connect with people.
Modern environments/lifestyles and the Internet have alienated the shit out of us. The last vestiges of real community are shriveling up like dying meadows. This is bad.
We’re social apes, we need real community and connection. At all costs, get together with people; have real conversations; call people on the phone; do this regularly.
And find the right people who lift you up, inspire you, make you think, make you laugh. Use MeetUp or CouchSurfing to meet new people. There is tremendous wisdom in this heuristic: It is very difficult to become much more than the average of the ~5 people you spend the most time with.
8. Treat your living environment like a sanctuary.
How do you expect to feel good if you’re living in a veritable dumpster? Treat your living space as sacred. Hell, treat everything as sacred—meals, loved ones, nature, work, etc. Give thanks for what you have.
In practice, this means keeping your space clean and finding/making sacred art, furniture, and other objects that put you in a clear, inspired, thankful frame of mind. Environment is unspeakably important.
9. Where you live is one of the most important decisions of your life.
On a related note, choose where you live very deliberately. Choose a place that is in alignment with your deep values and goals. I can’t stress this enough. This might mean leaving the city, or thinking way outside the box.
For me, I believe this is going to mean buying a small patch of land in/near nature and buying/building a cabin, hexayurt, or tiny home within the next 1-2 years where I can create a minimalistic sanctuary optimized for stillness, peace, creativity, and meditation. I intend to treat this as my home base while also continuing to travel often.
10. Unearth your natural curiosity then follow it forever.
Preserve your natural curiosity at all costs. Many forces conspire to stamp it out of you. Do not let them. Keep questioning and learning. Be interested. This is the key to adapting and thriving in changing conditions. And this is the key to various forms of fulfillment and liberation.
11. Attention is your most valuable resource.
So use it wisely.
Your life is the sum of what you give your attention to. And the ability to focus is a superpower, especially in an age of distraction.
Build focus by routinely practicing saying “no” to potential distractions and engaging in focus-building exercises such as meditation, reading books, and writing.
12. To truly change your life, change your habits.
Your life is the sum of what you give your attention to, and your habits are the activities you pay the most attention to, week in and week out.
Thus, the best way to change what you pay attention to is to change your daily habits. One of the best ways to do this is to completely change your environment; this shakes up your life and opens up space for fundamental habit change and quantum leaps in personal evolution.
Other effective methods are to bring awareness to all your actions, and to disrupt your current patterns with 30-day challenges (consider taking 30 Challenges to Enlightenment; this link gives you 20% off).
Bonus: Learn to be the witness of your own mind.
Identifying less with your mental chatter is liberating. It creates s p a c i o u s n e s s, allowing you to see your mental/emotional reactions more clearly and respond skillfully to reality.
This is freedom. This is why we meditate and practice non-reactive living.
One final principle: Enjoy.
Tattoo this on your soul: If you’re not enjoying life, you’re doing it wrong.
Unless you’re living in extreme poverty or a war zone or something truly awful, this holds true.
When you’re aligned with your soul, taking meaningful action in the world, and have cultivated a wise mindset, life is consistently enjoyable. Gratitude blossoms naturally. You laugh a lot. Keep this in mind.
With that, it’s time to wrap this thing up.
I’ve just attempted to present to you, in the most succinct possible way, 12 of the most important principles I’ve come to understand as fundamental for revolutionizing one’s day-to-day conscious experience.
Earth is a funny place with plenty of hardship, and we live in weird times that subtly sabotage our efforts to live a good life, if we’re not careful.
So be vigilant. Pay attention. Take care of yourself like you would take care of a dear loved one. Believe greater freedom and happiness are possible for you.
And let the principles I’ve outlined here help you. I challenge you to take one action based on what you read here right now, then let that action snowball into more action.
Time for me to shut up. I love you. Best of luck.
This post originally appeared on HighExistence.