I set a 15min-timer every morning and spend some time alone. Sometimes I practice gratitude or read an uplifting book; but when I don't know what to do I go over this list and embrace the meaning of each principle.
I am in the progress of crafting a personal mission statement. This list captures some of my thoughts and I frequently use it to clarify my values. It is meant as a living document that I can refer to if needed.
Four Important Values
I try to capture each value in a principle. Values are much broader than principles, but principles are easy. Thus they are only meant as rules of thumb.
I see the following four principles as meta-principles because they permeate all the others.
- Integrity – Do the right thing.
- Responsibility – Be resourceful and take initiative.
- Love – People are more important than things.
- Growth – Make mistakes useful. Fail, but quickly learn and correct.
How you see the world determines how you act in it. Your paradigms shape your thoughts. Your thoughts shape your actions. Your actions shape who you are. Change your paradigms, change yourself. Thus the only way to change reality is to start with yourself.
As Steven Covey put it: "Correct maps [paradigms] will infinitely impact our personal and interpersonal effectiveness far more than any amount of effort expended on changing our attitudes and behaviors."
In other words: to effectively change how we respond to what happens to us we have to change how we see it. I am acting differently towards a friend and a stranger, based on what I see. I might be more reserved, curious, cautious. Once I learn more about that stranger I will again act differently towards them: openly, trusting and understandingly.
Principles – An Unordered List
- Begin with the end in mind (Imagination)
- Put first things first
- If the thought of talking to somebody makes you uncomfortable and you procrastinate it, you should talk about it now.
- Look out for the joy. It's everywhere.
- Make quality part of your life.
- Feelings can be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. They aren't positive or negative; they are your body's way of communicating its current state. Appreciate that you are alive.
- Live in the present. Neither past nor future offer you the opportunity to act. You can only be happy now, you can only the person you want to be now. Being present is a conscious choice you have to make in every moment.
- Do it. The best things happen when you start to act rather than be acted upon. This is the maximum of control possible.
- Spend time with people that make you happy – your family and friends. You know that being alone is time well-spent, but you need others just as much. Miracles happen when you get around other people.
- Almost nothing you are socially scared of is actually scary.
- Be candid. Not being candid is always not being honest to yourself. Embrace your feelings.
- Strive to learn and to create. It's one of your greatest sources of happiness.
- Nobody will blame you for being down.
- Exercise. Maximal strength once per week, light exercise every day.
- What you eat is who you are. Eat healthily and become happy.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Internalize the principles of "How to Win Friends and Influence People"
- Every experience (both pleasant and unpleasant) is an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Work only in your circle of influence and try expanding it.
- Live with passion.
- Be grateful.