The following is the best basic advice from my future self to my current self, I presume. This is what I’m anticipating my inner words of wisdom will be decades from now.
This also happens to be what my current self would have told my former young-adult self. And it’s also among my best advice for most people in general.
HERE IT GOES:
1. Relax your being.
“Un-tense” as much as possible.
Consistently practice releasing the tension in your body from face to feet. Consistently practice reducing the intensity of your reactive thoughts and emotions.
Preventing chronic stress should be a paramount goal.
Being untense and calm does not mean you’re being unenthusiastic, dispassionate, complacent, or lazy. In fact it’s the opposite: when you operate without tension, you create more room for spirited, constructive action.
Do not force experience. Instead, flow with experience. Think, “Flow, not force.”
It never hurts to lighten up. Generally decrease the intensity of your judgments and opinions.
Generally decrease your sense of urgency to do and to have. It’s good to do and to have, but not at the expense of significant stress or conflict.
Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, or on others.
Breathe deeply. Breathe intently. Operate with ease. Keep gently recalibrating yourself back to a calm, equanimous state.
Always remember: Almost nothing should be taken personally. All events technically occur independently of your needs, preferences, and feelings. Thus, your approaches and responses to people and experiences should almost never be defensive, grim, or uptight…
Accept experience as impersonal, and watch your tension fade.
Always do your best to approach life gently, and do your best to respond to life with compassionate equanimity.
Commit to calm. Cultivate calm. And keep re-committing to calm.
2. Be as non-self-oriented as possible.
Focus outward: when in doubt, direct your attention outside yourself. Keep re-directing your attention on what you’re doing, on your present experience.
Become more and more other-people-oriented and experience-oriented.
Quite simply: make it less about you.
In general, whenever you’re feeling stressed or anxious , you’re making it all about you. Remember that it’s never all about you.
Be less concerned with your internal experience and more considerate of your external world.
Focus, and keep re-focusing, on the elements of experience, not on how you’re doing or feeling.
Life is better when you’re out of your own head.
Generally reduce analysis and increase awareness.
Be less concerned with the soundness of your judgments. Focus more on the needs and interestingness of other people and environments.
At the end of the day and at the end of your life, your outer experience — your actual interactive experience — is what you will value most.
Remember: No self, no problem.
3. Trust yourself.
Always be humble, never be arrogant. Always know you’re flawed, and never be too certain. But at the end of the day, you have to trust yourself.
You have to trust your own good intentions, your own good heart.
You have to trust your own informed reasoning, your quest for the actual truth.
You ultimately have to trust your own conscious awareness and your genuine consideration of others.
Trust the universe is working with you if simply believe it is.
Believe you can do what you set out to do. It is so simple, yet so necessary for staying engaged and reaching your potential.
Once you’ve committed to something you’ve determined is a reasonable pursuit, then trusting that you can do it and if you can’t you will be able to handle the outcome.
Keep on reasonably believing what you objectively determine to be the truth. If a reasonable belief doesn’t manifest, that’s okay.
It’s better to reasonably believe in yourself and risk a little disappointment than to doubt yourself and risk living in a state of uncertainty and constraint.
Also, generally trust and believe in other people. Your sense of opportunity is due to the constructive actions of other people.
Trust and believe in God/Life/Universe/Nature/Consciousness. Believe in your connection to something greater, to something beyond your mind and body. Trust in the immutable goodness behind your conscious existence.
Never ever lose hope. Trust and hope are gifts of consciousness. They support constructive action and are thus fundamental elements of human flourishing.
Trust and hope are constants. They are always there for you.
4. Things are never as bad as they seem (and the “bad” things don’t last).
It’s AMAZING how many things you’ll agonize over that are truly insignificant to the grand scheme of your life. Likewise, it’s amazing how feeling down can seem so permanent. But your “down” feelings are most certainly not permanent! No matter how down you feel, you will feel better in due time. Do not agonize – flow with the process.
Know that when things are going good, difficulties, discomforts, and deficiencies often seem more pronounced — they feel worse than they really are. Then you often either feel bad for letting those little things get to you when there are so many other good things around you, or you will question how good things really are. Don’t do this. Stay aware of this phenomenon and take it in stride. Ride the good times…
Don’t fall victim to a rough time. You just have to keep riding the waves with as much grace as possible and know that the rough time will be over before you know it, and that upon reflection you’ll see that it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
Don’t be fooled by a bad mood. Your psychological baseline is much stronger and more stable than you realize. All you need to continuously recall is that you are capable beyond what you’re feeling.
Trust your baseline.
Don’t be fooled by one bad event. There are plenty of good events that outnumber that one bad event…
A bad 20 minutes is not a bad day. Choose, over and over again, to not let one bad event ruin your day.