I have started doing these things in my 20s. And these things have already started benefiting me. So, I am just gonna spill the secret to happiness and eventual success.
1. PRACTICE GRATITUDE:
Without gratitude, you will never get anywhere in life.
If you are reading this answer, this means you have a roof above your head, food on your plate 3 times a day (or probably more), you know to read, you also know to write, you probably have at least one parent figure in life to guide you, you probably have someone to talk to, someone that cares about you.
If you are reading this answer, it means that you have clothes to wear to protect you from heat and cold, you have a place to call home, you have one or two friends that you can count on.
If you are reading this answer, you probably have two fully functional eyes that can see clearly, eyes that can see the beauty of the world around.
If you are reading this answer, you probably have had your meal or you are probably going to have your meal which is already ready.
You have so much in your life that over 70% of the rest of the world don’t have.
We have grown up in a society that takes every damn thing for granted. Someone told me this – “Grandparents are those that this generation takes for granted. May be they should be called ‘taken-for-GRANTEDparents
It’s not just with that. We as a society have grown up taking everything we have for granted in the hunger for more, more, and more.
STOP now. Start thanking the universe (or God if you believe in Him) for all the good things you have in life no matter how minuscule the goodness is.
What you focus on, expands!
So, when you practice gratitude and the habit of thanking the universe/God for everything that you have in your life, those good things in your life and the goodness you already have in your life start expanding.
Pretty good deal for just being thankful, don’t you think?!
2. Pursue EXCELLENCE:
Every damn person is gonna ask you to pursue your passion. If you’re like 99% of the world, you probably have no idea what you are passionate about.
Maybe you will realise it as you go through life. Maybe you won’t.
The now-popular advice of “follow your passion” is just so darn dangerous.
I am passionate about many things. Music, graphic design, writing, reading books, and watching movies are some of those things. How did I realise I was passionate about them? I realised I was passionate about them when I got a glimpse of how I felt while doing such things.
I realised I was passionate about music while I played my first chord on my friend’s guitar during my 11th standard after watching the Vaaranam Aayiram and August Rush movie.
I realised I was passionate about graphic design when I started learning photoshop to design my first poster for my office intern show-up.
I realised I was passionate about writing when I started writing a journal every single day to push out all that I felt onto paper and then onto a digital notepad.
I fell in love (one sided) with my best friend in my 11th standard. I looked up to her those days (still do) because she was so darn intelligent. She was what you call brains with beauty (she still is, only better). I give more emphasis for brains coz I am a sapio-sexual. Beauty was an additional thing that came with the package. She was an avid reader. From Arthur Conan Doyle to Sidney Sheldon, from Jeffrey Archer to Jane Austen, from Abercrombie to RR Martin, she has read so much. I fell in love with her and I realised that I had to get my standards up to her level. Although we fell out because of my naivety, the way I looked up to her still remained. Two to three years later, that drove me to start reading.
When I started reading, that was when I realised that I could live many lives (fiction) and learn from the mistakes of hundreds of people (non-fiction, self-help, personal improvement, spiritual books) that way. I realised I was passionate about reading.
Most people will ask you to follow your passion. It’s the new fad – advising people to follow their passion. But you know what? That advice in itself is a dangerous predicament.
If you were already a well-read person and a great writer, following your passion and becoming a writer would still be difficult (not impossible). If you wanted to be a writer and you didn’t have any skill to start with, it would be even more difficult (like in my case – I am passionate about music and I wanna be a composer. I have crazy music flowing through my head all the time but zero knowledge with which to convert it into a tangible product ).
Pursuing one’s passion has three requirements.
a. You first gotta know what you are passionate about.
b. You also gotta know that you won’t give up mid-way.
c. A clear-cut plan with clearly defined milestones.
The first one is a no-brainer. If you don’t even know what you’re passionate about, you can’t pursue it.
The second one is probably the most important thing. Most people out there hear this famous advice and want to drop out of college, start pursuing their so-called “passion” full time. Which is clearly a dangerous predicament. If you are like the average Joe, you aren’t aware of the struggles you will face mid-way and you don’t even know if you’ll give up or not.
Most humans don’t know what they want. They say they want something and they only realise that they never wanted it in the first place, ONLY WHEN THEY HAVE IT.
So, before going full on into pursuing something, you got to know if you are obsessed and single-mindedly focused on absolutely doing it.
The third one is the most important thing once you know you really want it. A clear cut plan to achieve what you want to achieve. Without that you won’t get anywhere, even if you model the legends.
For people who know what they are passionate about, that advice might be useful (still dangerous). What about those who don’t know what their passion is?
Well, if you’re one among those who don’t know what their passion is, you gotta start pursuing EXCELLENCE.
This is the most underrated advice.
Now, go and read this book –
According to the book (which is brilliantly true and spot on):
When you pursue your passion thinking that you will be happy, sometimes you will receive only a rude awakening. On the other hand, if you pursue excellence in what you do (even if it is until you figure out what you’re passionate about), you eventually get to a stage where it’s hard for people to ignore you in that field, that’s when you start living life happily (according to the research done by the author).
So, if you know what you are passionate about, be smart about pursuing it. If you don’t know what you are passionate about, do what you are doing now, but only better.
In both the cases, it is absolutely essential that you pursue EXCELLENCE.
3. MONEY CAN BUY HAPPINESS:
What’s the popular advice?
Money can’t buy happiness. Money is absolutely unnecessary for happiness. Don’t pursue money. Pursue your passion.
Well, let me tell you the truth.
Whoever it is that says money is not important IS BROKE as hell and is just in denial.
You go and ask someone why they aren’t doing what they want to do, more so for money. They will tell you that money isn’t important. I can tell you this. They are BROKE. You can just tell from that one sentence.
MONEY IS important. It may be a piece of paper, but it runs lives all over the world.
Let me be very clear about what I am saying here so it’s not misconstrued into something that I didn’t intend to say.
Money can buy happiness.
Okay. Money can’t buy happiness directly.
Money can buy you freedom. Freedom – to do whatever you want to. That freedom buys you happiness.
A=B, B=C, so A=C. Money can buy happiness.
I am passionate about music. I want to be a music composer in the Hollywood. I want to be the next John Williams or the next Howard Shore (okay. I accept it. I secretly dream of surpassing all that they have done and been, in the world of music.)
What would happen if I started pursuing my passion RIGHT NOW? Well, right now, I don’t have the money that’s required to become a composer. It requires minimum 10k hours of practice with the Piano. I also need to be able to convert the musical ideas in my head into something tangible as a sheet music or at least play the piano and program it using a DAW and VST instruments. I also need to have at least a very basic idea of sound engineering and mixing/mastering. I also need to have an idea of songwriting, orchestration, creating melodies, etc.
It won’t matter if I am musically brilliant within my head. To convert it into a tangible product outside, I need to learn some things in the real world.WHICH NEEDS MONEY. Not like someone is going to invite me over to Berklee or Julliard’s or even our local KMMC and give me free admission.
You know how much even the local KMMC costs? 6 Lakhs rupees per annum. And the course is for 4 years . Year after year, the fee keeps increasing.
Yes, I can teach myself the piano or the guitar. For that, I have to buy a guitar, buy a piano. Which needs what? Yep. You’re right. MONEY.
Yes, even if I have the money to buy them, I probably would need tutorials and connection to the Internet. For which I need a dongle or a broadband connection. Which needs what? MONEY.
Yes, even if there’s all this, I need to survive day after day. I need food to eat, a place to crash and something to wear and protect me from cold and heat. Which needs what? MONEY.
Anyone who tells you that money is not important is either broke or stupid or both.
Money is absolutely important in order to pursue and do whatever you want. So, spend your 20s being smart about money and earning it. Coz, the more money you have the more freedom it enables in your life. The more the freedom you possess, the more you can pursue what you want.
So, if you’re like me who knows what your passion is, but don’t have money, I will advise you to start making ways to earn money and then when you have the money that you think is enough for you to go all in on your pursuit of passion, start.
Nothing will stop you from learning what you have to, in order to pursue your passion for one or two hours a day. If you can make the time, you can spend it on learning. But, if you focus single-mindedly on setting up the base for pursuing your passion, you get it done sooner than you would do if you focused on multiple things at a time. If you are like me or like any person who is obsessed about what they are passionate about, if you learn/do things you are passionate about for only one or two hours a day, you tend to feel that urge to drop everything and keep doing it all day long. When you have to part from it for the day, you feel absolutely bad. So, I found it better to keep it away for while I focused on setting up the life to pursue it.
Bottomline: Don’t make GETTING RICH your end goal. Rather, make ‘getting rich’ a means to something greater and larger than even yourself and your life.
4. STOP MANAGING TIME
Okay. I take that back. I don’t want you to actually stop managing time. Stop right now and think.
Time is absolutely a man-made concept with which the entire world runs today. No other living creatures on this planet knows the concept of time yet, everything happens exactly the way it has to happen.
In order for you to become successful and get to a place where you will thank your 20’s self in your 30’s, you need to do one thing.
Don’t do the things you don’t wanna be doing.
People tell you all the time to plan every single day, to use your time most efficiently, manage and balance your time for everything.
I will tell you something different. In the beginning of every single day, write down everything that you don’t want to do. Write down everything that won’t bring you results or return on investment for your time.
Your goal in your early 20s should be to utilise your time so damn effectively and efficiently at the same time so that you won’t have to worry about time anymore from the onset of your late 20s.
You see, everyone can do hard work.
There are two parameters you need to think about, when it comes down totime.
You can be efficient in doing something, that doesn’t mean that it’s the most effective use of your time.
For ex: You want to be a graphic designer and you spend your time learning to play the piano. No matter how efficiently you play the piano, it’s not going to have an effect on your life as a graphic designer.
You can do something effectively with your time, but it need not be efficient.
For ex: You can create a poster using paint, edit it using picasa, and then add effects using an online too, and then do some more text addition etc., using pixteller. It might take 7 hours to create that one poster.
You have made a very effective use of those 7 hours. But it’s not the most efficient use, as you could have done it all with a Photoshop in under 2 hours.
The one thing you need to do in your 20s to be successful with your time is to do things both effectively as well as efficiently.
Eliminate everything that’s not getting you the best results on investment of your time.
You spend time on a friend of yours when he/she needs you and he/she doesn’t care about you when you are in need? Stop spending time with him/her.
You spend time with your beloved one and he/she supports you when you really need him/her? That’s a good ROI. Find ways to spend more time and nurture the relationship.
You spend time learning Photoshop and you have gained some skills? That’s a good ROI. Find ways to learn it more efficiently, by doing.
Like this, you need to find the most effective and the most efficient use of your time and spend your time productively.
Everyone is busy these days. Whenever you ask someone why they haven’t replied to your message, “I was busy”. When you ask someone why they didn’t pick up your call, “I was busy”. When you ask someone why they didn’t come to attend your marriage, “I was busy”.
Trust me when I say this. People who say that they are busy are either bullshitting themselves, or they are bullshitting you, or probably both.
Most people are busy these days. Very few people are actually productive.
I used to know a guy who used to sit in the library for 10 hours a day, preparing for his airforce entrance exams, and still failed to clear it.
You know why? He was busy. He wasn’t productive. Just because he spent 10 hours of time studying for the exam doesn’t mean that he actually studied for 10 hours. It also doesn’t mean that he actually learnt something new for every minute of that one hour. It also doesn’t mean that he actually did some productive work during all of those 10 hours. Of all those 10 hours, he would have been productive for probably 2 to 3 hours. Had he been productive for the entire 10-hour period, he’d have topped the country.
It’s a no brainer. When someone tells you that they are busy, either they are just using it as an excuse. “I was/am/will be busy” – when you hear this sentence, it usually means either of these three things.
a. You are not important to me. There are more important things that I need to attend to. So, I am telling you politely so that your feelings won’t get hurt.
b. I am doing things all day that don’t take me anywhere. I have things stacked up to do, which I will be doing all day long but still won’t get anywhere.
c. I just don’t/didn’t feel like it. I am doing so much every day but I am still not getting anywhere. I am unproductive, but I spend hours together being unproductive.
So, stop trying to be busy. And, start BEING productive.
Stop focusing on managing your time. Start focusing on eliminating all the clutter and being productive with your time so that you can get to a level where you don’t have to think about managing it anymore.
5. BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE:
No. This doesn’t mean taking a walk from your cubicle to the nearest cafeteria. This also doesn’t mean intermittent running and walking that you do to catch the next bus to your office.
Be actually physically active. Either hit the gym and lift some huge ass weights. Don’t be a sissy and settle for cardio.
You know what cardio is good for? They say it’s good for your heart. I say it makes you weak.
Cardio is good. Fine. It’s nice and cute. Gets rid of the extra fat off your arse, love handles and stuff. But it doesn’t achieve the purpose.
What’s the purpose? Being physically active, hitting the gym or doing yoga SHOULDN’T BE DONE as a means to an end. It shouldn’t be done with an end goal in mind. Yeah, sure, have some goals and lift some shit. But, once you reach that goal, it doesn’t end there.
So, bodybuilding, or yoga or being physically active in general IS NOT SOMETHING YOU DO AND GET OVER WITH. IT’s A WAY OF LIFE. It should be an integral part of your lifestyle just as much as brushing, bathing and pooping is.
When you do yoga or when you hit the gym and lift weights, you basically get your brain to release happy hormones (which make you feel happy, duh!).
When you do cardio, you only raise your metabolic rate just for the time being when you are active on the treadmill or the cycle or whatever it is that you do. Once you get off the machine, your metabolism comes down to normal.
When you lift weights, you basically increase your metabolism and the increased metabolic rate stays that way for at least 4 to 5 hours after you complete your workout.
While cardio burns calories, cycling, rowing or treadmill is not the only way to do cardio. You can lift weights – less weight and more rep count will get you the same cardio effect.
While you exert energy, spend time sweating and dripping in the gym, you still get out feeling frickin’ awesome once you’re done with the workout because of the release of dopamine in your body.
Yoga, on the other hand, exerts lesser energy from within you. It regulates the energy within you, and clears the energy blocks, makes you feel more active and in tune because of regulated breathing.
Both are beneficial at the end of the day. So do one or the other. Or go play some game (definitely not foosball. Maybe actual football in an actual playground, but not the silly foosball. Anything outdoor is fine).
Why am I saying this?
As you grow older, and as you reach your late 20s, you will find that your metabolism has slowly reached an all-time low of all your active years and once that happens, it’s very difficult to get rid of the extra weight that you gain because of sitting on your arse all day long in your office or at home doing whatever it is that you do.
To keep yourself active, to keep your metabolism high, and to keep yourself healthy, you gotta be physically active and do something for that.
I suggest lifting weights or doing yoga. If you find something else fascinating – like Taekwondo, JiuJitsu, Kung Fu, or some dance form, or anything that’s physically intense – by all means go ahead and do. But do something to keep yourself physically active every single damn day!
6. START EATING CLEAN:
It’s a no brainer again, but the most overlooked fat.
Great body is made 10% in gym and 90% in your kitchen.
Even if you don’t wanna be a bodybuilder, this one is the most important of all things you should start doing in your 20s.
People say this all the time –
“This is the age to eat. If you don’t eat now and enjoy, when will you eat?”
You know what I will tell you about that? THAT’S COMPLETE BULLSHIT.
There’s no particular AGE to eat. If you eat properly, you can eat well at any age.
The things that you feed your body determines everything from how you feel, how you behave, how you work, how you sleep and how you perform (even in bed).
Stop putting junk in your body. All those people who are eating Pizza, Burger, Chips, and any fast food for that matter, they will tell you that this is the age to eat and enjoy. Don’t listen to them, coz they are STUPID.
Even if you consume it in a moderate way, JUNK is still JUNK. Just coz you consume pizza once a month doesn’t mean that it suddenly becomes a magical cupcake full of healthy items.
Well, let me ask you something. Will you take solid putty, cow’s dung, pig’s poop and mix it all and eat?
You won’t. That’s pretty obvious. Right? Why? Coz, you know that it is junk.
Well, then why in heaven do you do it when someone gives you a similar junk just wrapped in a nice looking/tasting package?
Clean eating is very important. If you smoke, stop smoking. If you drink, stop smoking.
One more thing. People around you, especially if you are in IT, will ask you to be at least a social drinker. You know the truth? They are stupid too.
Well, do you remember your 10th standard lessons on the ill effects of alcohol? Do you remember your zoology lessons on ill effects of smoking?
It doesn’t matter if you smoke one cigarette and drink one glass of vodka or if you smoke a pack of cigarette and do 20 shots of vodka. When you put in JUNK inside your body, it’s still JUNK no matter what the amount is.
And you know what? If you abuse your body even a little bit, it will have effects sooner or later.
So, stop abusing your body and treat it as the temple it deserves to be treated like. Don’t listen to those morons who say that you’re gonna die anyway, that you can at least die after experiencing these things.
There is a unique section of pseudo-adventurous people who’d say,
“I want to experience everything at least once, may it be good or it be bad.”
You know what? It’s people like that who end up trying something once and then end up making a habit out of it. So, even if you have such people around you, don’t succumb to their bullshit claims and end up falling into these bad habits. Or cut them all away and start living a clean life.
Eat clean and healthy. Don’t eat anything with processed sugar. Substitute crystal sugar with honey or palm sugar. Eat green, vegetables. You don’t have to compromise on taste. Go on healthy eating websites, and find recipes that are healthy and tasty. If possible, try eating vegan for one month and see how you feel. If you like how you feel, continue. Otherwise fall back on your older pattern of eating (but still eat clean).
If you eat clean, you can eat well at any age.
7. LESS IS MORE:
Stop spending your money on things that you don’t need. Before spending money to buy something, ask yourself if you absolutely need it. If the answer is YES, go ahead and buy. If it’s a NO, don’t.
The more things you own, the more things end up owning you. You can live happily with very less, things that will solve your basic needs.
Every once in a while, it is good to spend on experiencing luxury, but it’s wise only when you are in a position where you can’t even notice the money you spend vanish from your bank account (like, you spend 2000 rupees on a 5 star hotel dinner, you have 2 crores in your bank account. You won’t notice much difference in that 2000 deducted from the account).
Try to live with less and practice minimalism wherever possible.
Spend on EXPERIENCES not on THINGS.
Do these 7 things and see your life change magically in front of your eyes.