I’m an addict, and self-help material is my drug. I consume it every single day. I follow all the great teachers (alive and dead). I’ve read more than 500 self-help books. And I’ve found there are some core truths and pieces of advice that are repeated over and over again in different ways.
These are the best nuggets of advice about happiness, alignment, and success I’ve ever received:
1. Be yourself.
I once heard a monk say if you meditated nonstop for 20 years, the answer you would arrive at is “be yourself.” There is tremendous freedom in just being you. It’s better (and easier!) to be a first-rate version of yourself than a third-rate version of anyone else. How long can you fake it, anyway?
You’re like a snowflake. Just as no one else in the world has your face, no one has your unique gifts, strengths, or personality. Don’t be afraid to be seen.
2. You have nothing to prove.
Do you ever feel like when you achieve X or Y, or finally score that job (or that man/woman), or reach that ideal weight, your worth will go up? Well, you can drop the struggle. You were enough from the day you were born. You don’t have to earn your place in this world. You don’t have to please everyone, entertain others, or compete (unless doing so makes you happy). You are enough, exactly as you are right now.
3. You can’t control anyone.
Have you ever met someone who thought they were wrong about their choices? Neither have I. Some of our most mature action is inaction (or biting our tongue). For example, my super-duper healthy friend and I went for lunch last weekend. She ordered a salad. I ordered a bagel (extra cheese!) and a milkshake. She didn’t say a word.
So much suffering comes from trying to control others—their actions, their habits, their worldview. This can include strangers online, your ex, your colleagues…
But the (liberating!) fact is, you have zero control over other people. Zip. Nada. NONE.
As the old saying goes, “Live and let live.” Or, in modern terms, do you. But that means to let everyone else do them.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
When I was a teenage waitress, the café owner I worked for had a rule that whenever we smash a plate or glass, we laugh! It was an excellent policy. The other day I was pacing my apartment cursing the ceiling (loudly) because I accidentally sent a newsletter out with an incorrect link and then had to issue an apology—and a correction—to the almost 40,000 people in my community.
If you were a fly on the wall, you would have thought I was having a heart attack.
Nothing. Someone even emailed me saying, “Good to know you’re human!”
Can you laugh a little more?
5. You’re doing great.
You’ve already arrived. Your life has begun. You’re doing better than you think. You can be satisfied in the moment and be eager for more—they’re not mutually exclusive. And always pause to celebrate when something good happens, whether a dish you’re making comes out well, you score a bargain on something you’ve been eyeballing for weeks, or a friend gives you a compliment.
6. The only time you have is now.
How often do we put off life? Don’t do it, because there is no tomorrow. The only time to take action and make something real happen is today!
7. Failure isn’t final.
“This too shall pass” is one of my favorite proverbs.
Failing sucks. We all know the feeling. But if you can—even for a moment—remind yourself this feeling is temporary, you will be OK. New things are on their way, and the good times will roll soon enough.
8. Ninety-nine percent of limitations are imagined.
Wayne Dyer said we can become a no-limits person anytime we decide to because “the only limits you have are the limits you believe.”
Think you can’t run a marathon? You can. Think you can’t start a side hustle? You can. Think you can’t have fun online dating? You can. The same goes for whatever you think you can’t do.
The vast majority of the time it’s internal, not external, factors that determine what’s possible for us. If your beliefs are not serving you, question them! They’re 100 percent changeable.
9. No one knows what they’re doing either.
E.M. Forster said, “Life is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.” We’re all just doing our best with what we know. So be kind to others and yourself (and defer to point No. 5).
10. Only love is real.
This is the biggest point in A Course in Miracles. When you see people through a loving, forgiving, everyone-is-human lens, your life transforms. That includes how you feel about your haters. You can become an instrument of love and a force for good in the world. Choosing love is perhaps the most worthwhile pursuit of your life.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for her Side Hustle Prep School and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!