Those who thrive in their lives have internalized a deep inner drive that keeps them glued to taking actions that always move them closer to their goals. That doesn’t mean they don’t encounter setbacks, bump into obstacles, or come upon challenges. Life is still life for all of us, but these people have the passion and self-love it takes to keep on even when times are tough.
Why don’t they ever seem to feel hopeless, fearful, or filled with doubt? These are people who live and think in an integrated way, so when the road of life gets bumpy, they have an automatic reaction that quickly gets them back into smooth waters. While these traits may exist more naturally in some people, these are all skills that you can and will internalize.
People with follow-through say what they mean, mean what they say, and do what they said they would do. People with the follow-through trait practice self-control and spend a lot less time struggling with temptation or decision making. They pick the best plan to reach their goal, then follow through with the actions that will deliver the results they are after.
You don’t have to be born with this skill to develop it, but practice is essential. It comes from having a clear objective and steady, reliable habits that support your actions.
Making a commitment is serious business. Successful people realize that sticking to a decision, making a commitment, or setting a goal sometimes comes with sacrifices. Being willing to make sacrifices is the flip side of follow-through. Sometimes you have to forgo other opportunities if you want to keep promises. Part of being good at follow-through is remembering to review what’s already on your plate. When you practice follow-through, you treat your commitments with the respect they deserve, which earns you trust, admiration, and a stellar reputation.
2. Perfectly Imperfect
A person who is perfectly imperfect is someone who is entirely comfortable with being a flawed human being. They don’t take themselves too seriously or think they are better than anyone else. The ability to accept that making mistakes is part of the process of being human allows you to stay calm under pressure. If you tell yourself that something is going to happen and it’s no big deal — “I’m going to say something wrong and stumble over my words” — it takes the power out of it and allows you freedom to express your most creative self.
Successful people are positive, but they don’t live in a fantasy world. They know that changing habits and achieving goals take real work, and they welcome the effort because they know the payoff is worth it. Being an optimist is a great starting point, but if you think things are going to magically change simply because you’d like it to happen, you’ll be disappointed. That’s not how real life works. You need both optimism and realism to make dreams come true. You have to take both strengths and weaknesses into account, and understand that to accomplish something truly remarkable takes some serious preparation.
The curious person is extremely inquisitive, loves to ask lots of questions, and listens with immense interest to the information received. Being curious helps you try new things. You can tap into this trait by being willing to explore a place you’ve never been or try a new activity. This helps you detach from your regular routine, and to fully recharge, rejuvenate, and grow. The truly prosperous individual understands that curiosity is a key component of personal expansion.
It’s instinctual to see only one side of an equation — your own! But it takes real skill to recognize the emotions another person is feeling, especially during a heated conversation. People who lack empathy can alienate others and be perceived as arrogant. When you are able to step outside yourself and look at how others are feeling, everyone wins.
If being empathetic doesn’t come instinctively, that’s okay; it just means you need to practice until it becomes as reactive as sneezing when you smell pepper. This ability can be even more powerful when you apply it in a situation where it isn’t your responsibility.
6. Team Players
Having a team means you have people in your life you can rely on, and vice versa. Having others to lean on is essential to the human animal, and being able to give to others is a trait of the happiest humans. (It gets you out of your own head, for one thing.) People who have close friends, belong to a support network or church, or have close ties to family are all at lower risk for depression and anxiety, and tend to have better health than those who claim to be an island.
7. Always Prepared
This is the person who thinks through everything from every possible angle and imagines all conceivable scenarios — they are always prepared.
This is the ability to let go of resentment or a wrong that was done to you. The forgiving person isn’t someone who denies, minimizes, or justifies a wrong — but they aren’t held hostage by it either. They have the ability to let it go, and by doing so, they gain peace and freedom.
Being forgiving boosts your health, according to a study from the Journal of Behavioral Medicine that found forgiveness to be associated with lower heart rates and blood pressure, also reducing chronic stress. When you are unable to forgive, you pay the price of sheltering bitterness, and you can pass these negative emotions on to others. The forgiving person grasps that resentments stimulate a state of perpetual toxicity that keeps you trapped. The only way to be truly free and to live in the present moment is to forgive.
Having the ability to live fully in the present moment is a true sign of wisdom. This is the quality of presence in action — realizing that life really is play when you stay in the here and now, that love always sells better than hate. This is a skill that will teach you to live fully in the present moment.
Excerpted from Mind Your Body: 4 Weeks to a Leaner, Healthier Life. Copyright © by Joel Harper. Published by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins.
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