It’s been a long, and still ongoing, journey for me to realize what life is about and how to be happy. Like many teenagers, I was rebellious, and I took it to the extreme. I was heavily involved in drugs and the wrong group of friends. I was arrested more times than I can count, spent time in drug rehab, and took six years to graduate high school.
There's a light at the end of this tunnel, though, because I eventually did graduate college, then graduated law school and passed the bar. I now own two business and advocate ultra-running, a healthy lifestyle, and inspiring others.
So how did I turn myself around? Well, looking back, I can point to 12 lessons I learned the hard way about how to lead a happy and fulling life:
1. Give people a second chance.
If it wasn’t for the second, third, or even fourth chances that I've received from others, I wouldn't be where I am today. Sometimes it takes a few times to catch on. Giving someone another shot is an amazing feeling, especially when they prove to you they can come through.
2. Say sorry even when it's not your fault.
Although some disagree with this lesson, I find it's always soothing to both parties. If someone is blaming you for something — tell them you’re sorry. That’s all they usually want to hear. I understand it may not be your fault, but you will be making the person feel better, which in turn makes the world better.
3. Be thankful.
As I'm sure you've heard before, be grateful for who you are and what you have. Realize how lucky you are and enjoy everything and everyone in your life.
4. Keep an open mind.
The world isn’t black and white and easily labeled. Keep an open mind to expand your experiences and enhance your life. If you asked me 10 years ago if I would be meditating, eating a plant-based diet, or ultra-running, I would have called you crazy. Always be open to change, because it means you'll always be open to self-improvement.
5. Chase your fear.
This is easier said than done. If you’re scared to do something or think you won’t be good at it, it’s a sure sign you should be doing it. I learned this with public speaking, quitting my corporate job, and following my heart. Get out of your comfort zone is the only way to received new experiences and reach fulfillment.
6. Don't believe the past predicts the future.
If you looked at where I was when I was 17 you could never predict how “well” I would turn out. I was labeled a lowlife loser, and my life didn’t seem to be getting any better. However, it slowly started to turn around when I looked inside myself and asked what I wanted and believed I could do more and everyday is a new day to start fresh.
7. Take 100% responsibility for your life.
Don’t make any excuses on why things aren’t working out for you or why you aren’t where you want to be — you are the only person who is in charge of your life. Don’t waste a moment blaming others — all blame is a waste of time. If you want to change your life — it’s up to you and no one else.
We are on this earth for a very short time — enjoy it. Laugh and smile as much as possible. It’s the best feeling in the world to laugh until your stomach hurts and you’re crying. I told someone once, I wish I could feel uncontrollable laughter constantly — when I’m in that state, nothing else matters.
9. Keep positive people around you.
I can’t stress this enough. Only people who want the best for you should be in your group. If someone isn't enhancing your life, drop them immediately. It doesn’t matter if you've known someone for 20 years; he isn't bringing you up, he's dragging you down — get him out of your life and watch how far you rise. You're better off alone than with a negative person.
10. Believe in yourself.
If you don’t believe in who you are and what you’re capable of, no one else will. Know that you are exactly where you're supposed to be in life. Learn from the situation and know that there is a plan for you, and you can do anything you wish. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you otherwise.
11. Get up early and make your bed.
There's so much positive energy in the morning it consumes me and sets the tone for the day. I can get so much done before noon it’s crazy. Also, making your bed one of the first keys to happiness. If you don’t do anything all day, at least you made your bed. It’s also a great feeling to slip into a made bed to go to sleep.
12. Love yourself and be kind to others.
We all have a choice in how we treat others and that choice should always to be kind in every situation. Be love and kindness, and watch your world transform.