No one wants to suck at life.
We all want to be happy and content with our lives. We want rewarding jobs and healthy relationships with family and friends who adore being around us. We want to make a difference and leave the world in a better place than we found it.
But life can be hard. No one hands you an instruction manual when you’re born. You’re just expected to figure it all out for yourself.
Now maybe you have good role models to teach you everything they know, or maybe you just get lucky and are dealt a better hand than the rest of us.
But odds are you’re struggling to figure out life just like everyone else. You make some mistakes along the way and hopefully you learn from them and become a better person going forward.
Hopefully you’ve already learned each of the lessons below. If not, consider this your guide on how to not suck at life:
DBAD: Don’t Be A Dick
If you learn only one thing from this article, make it this one. Take these four little words to heart and your life will be so much better:
Don’t be a dick.
It’s really very simple. Whenever you’re about to do something, just take a second and think, “Is this something a dick would do?”
If the answer is yes, do not do that thing.
No one likes being around someone who is rude, insulting, selfish, argumentative, or uncaring. If all you care about is yourself than no one will ever really care about you. Sure, you might get ahead in the short term, but in the end you’re more likely to end up alone and miserable.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Everyone Else
How much time do you spend scrolling through your Facebook and Instagram feeds checking on what everyone else in the world is up to?
Does it usually make you feel better about yourself or worse?
I’m guessing worse.
You probably look at other people’s updates and think to yourself “Oh it looks like they’re having so much fun. I wish I was there.”
Or “Wow, look at their house! I wish mine was that nice.”
What a waste of time and energy.
First of all, if you want to change your life or achieve something you don’t have now you need to actually get off your butt and do something about it.
Sitting around looking at social media all day isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Second, you need to remember that what you see on Facebook is far from the truth.
Your friends only put what they want you to see on Facebook. That’s why they’re always laughing and having a good time, or traveling to some great destination spot.
They want you to think their life is perfect. But it’s all a lie.
Most people don’t share pictures of themselves when they first wake up and their hair is a mess and they have no makeup on.
You see pictures of their kids all perfectly dressed and hugging like they couldn’t live without one another. You don’t see what happened five minutes later when the kids were bickering and at each other’s throats.
Stop trying to live up to some false standard of perfection that has no basis in reality.
Just enjoy what you have. Because odds are that all of your Facebook friends are looking at your posts and feeling jealous of you too.
Be “All In” In Whatever You Do
People are so easily distracted these days. Not long ago we were out for a family dinner and at the table next to us there were four people (two couples on a double date) and all four of them were on their smartphones.
Why even bother going out together if you’re going to keep your face buried in your phone the whole time?
When you’re at work, focus on doing your job the best you can. It will be noticed.
If you’re working on a side gig, don’t do it while you’re sitting in front of the TV. Set aside time for it and give it your full attention.
When you’re out to dinner with your spouse or playing board games with your kids, keep your smart phone in the other room.
Stop trying to multi-task and dividing your attention in a hundred places. Whatever you’re doing at the moment, give it your full focus and be “all in”.
See The Glass Half Full
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Research shows that optimists tend to live longer and are less likely to succumb to depression than their pessimistic friends.
That’s because pessimists tend to internalize and blame themselves when things don’t go right.
If a pessimist applies for a job and doesn’t get it, she assumes it’s because of some fundamental flaw in her character. No one likes her and no one will ever hire her, or so she thinks.
An optimist, on the other hand, shrugs it off as a temporary setback. She didn’t get the job simply because there was a more qualified candidate and nothing more.
If you always see the glass half full, you’ll have more energy and you’ll be less likely to give up when the going gets tough. You’ll also be more fun to be around. Who wants to hang out with a grump who never stops complaining?
Learn The Difference Between Needs And Wants
If you want to take control of your life you need to understand the difference between needs and wants.
Needs are things you can’t live without, such as food and a roof over your head.
Wants are things that are nice to have but that you can live without.
Wants are also like upgrades. They sure are nice to have but you’ll pay a premium for them.
Here are a few examples so you can get the idea:
You need food to stay alive, but you want to go out to eat at a restaurant instead of cooking at home. Going out to eat will cost far more than eating at home.
You need a car to commute to and from work, but you want the high end model with leather seats and a moon roof. You can bet your butt you’ll pay more for those fancier features.
If money is tight and you need to cut expenses, look to scale back some of those things you want but don’t really need.
Prepare Yourself For The Unexpected
Bad things happen to good people.
It’s not a happy thought but unfortunately it’s the truth.
One minute you’re minding your own business trying to get ahead and then BAM! Life kicks you in the shins.
It has happened to us more than once and you can bet it will happen to you. So the smart thing to do is protect yourself with a good pair of shin guards.
I don’t mean that literally of course (though with 3 kids playing travel soccer we have plenty of them around the house).
What I mean is that you need to expect the worst to happen and prepare yourself for it as best you can. You need to be adaptable and ready for whatever life decides to throw at you.
That means taking good care of your body to ward off disease and injury. It means having enough insurance to take care of your family if something happens to you.
It means having an emergency kit packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. And it means building up a healthy emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses.
Develop Good Habits
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Will Durant
What do you choose to do when you get home from work every night?
Do you open a bottle of wine and crash on the couch watching TV? Or do you use your free time to get some exercise or build up a side business for yourself?
The habits you’ve already formed have a profound influence on your life and if you want to make a change you need to break down those old habits and form newer, more productive ones.
We all have parts of our life that we wish we could change, but changing deeply ingrained habits is easier said than done.
To gain a greater understanding of why some bad habits can be so difficult to break, try reading The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.
I first discovered The Power of Habit through an excerpt that was printed in the New York Times. I found it so fascinating that I immediately hopped onto Amazon and ordered a copy.
The Power of Habit will help you identify destructive habits and the hidden cues that are behind them.
There’s no magic switch that will break bad habits for you. True change will take time and effort, but the book does provide a step-by-step action plan for identifying and reshaping your habits.
The Final Word
So there you have it.
You’re looking for a guide on how to not suck at life, we just gave you seven simple steps you can take to suck less.
If all of this seems overwhelming to you, remember that you don’t need to do it all overnight. Life is a journey and you should always be learning and evolving.
Look at the seven steps above as opportunities to improve yourself. Pick the one that speaks most to you and work on that one first.
And don’t worry about being perfect. That’s just not possible. Just focus on improving a little each day and before you know it you’ll be living a happier and more fulfilling life.