25 Life Improvements That Will Make You Happier

happy crowd

Photo: NRK P3 via Flickr

I recently saw on someone’s Facebook page that they “liked” a list of 50 things that will make your life better/happier, and I read through the list (I’m always looking to self-improve).Although it was a cool concept for an article, I found a lot of the ideas shared to be obvious and/or patently cliche. Obviously it’s great to help out the poor and to meditate once everyday.

I thought I would take a stab at the same idea, but by sharing 25 rather more subtle tips with you, valued Outlaw reader. 

I have done, or am currently trying to do, all of these in my own life:

1. Check your tire pressure. This takes 2 minutes, and pressurised air is often free (or only 50 cents) at your closest gas station. The result is better fuel efficiency, a safer car, and improved highway manoeuvrability.

2. Ignore the goal of becoming ‘well-rounded.’ It’s for losers. Successful people in our society become very adept at one or two things, and outsource the rest to others, in the form of paying for services you need. For example, I doubt John Paulson is good at housekeeping, but he has enough money to pay for a maid and focus on what he is good at.

3. Speak louder. Not a good first impression when the first thing someone notices about you is that they cannot hear what you’re saying.

4. Speak slower. The less you say, the smarter you sound. 

5. Make eye contact. Wait until the other person averts their gaze first. This establishes you as an alpha male (or alpha female).

6. Learn about art. Knowing the basics of art history is not the same thing as becoming ‘well-rounded.’ You’ll get more out of literature and out of life by having a basic grasp of why art is the way it is today — the same half-dozen names get name-dropped all the time, and if you don’t know who they are and why they mattered, you are missing out.

7. Don’t be that person. who always posts stuff about 2012 and the orbit of ‘Planet X’ on her Facebook page. If the thing you are most excited about is the possible — although highly unlikely — destruction of the galaxy, your life is not compelling enough right now. Find new passions.

8. Don’t commit to writing articles that list 25 things and then lose steam at #8.

9. While waiting for your flight to board: Find the most interesting person within walking distance and strike up a conversation with them. You’ll likely never see them again, so don’t worry. Some of the weirdest and most intriguing people I’ve met have been the result of random airport conversations.

10. Don’t read/watch/listen to media outlets that make you consistently unhappy. Trust me, if something truly important happens (natural disaster, alien invasion, political revolution) you’ll hear about it first on Facebook or Twitter anyway. Or a friend might even call you. Most of the 24/7 babble on the cable networks is manufactured fear — you can’t perform at peak levels when you maintain a constant low level paranoia about the world around you.

11. Have more than one checking account, and always have some cash on you. Banks do weird things; they freeze accounts due to unusual spending activity, accounts get hacked, etc. If a temporary setback occurs, you should still be able to cover your basic needs.

12. When approaching an attractive woman, the first thing that pops into your head is not the right thing to say — that’s what every other guy has said to her today. Saying the second thing that pops into your head makes you different. She’ll be wondering, “Why didn’t he weasel his way into a conversation by asking about my crazy t-shirt like every other guy here? He must be different.”

13. Don’t use corporate-speak in personal situations, or in corporate situations for that matter. Moving forward, learn to revisit your communications on the ground. We’re looking to hit a home-run here, remember? Go big or go home. Etc. All of those phrases suck. Say what you actually want to say: “This is a bad idea, and we aren’t going to pursue it” is far more honest than “Let’s revisit this next month.”

It’s a business idea, not a quaint South American town that you plan to return to someday.

14. Live without expectations. Don’t expect your flight to arrive on time; don’t expect the meal to be good; don’t expect to live until you’re 80. When you live without leaning on your existing expectations of how things SHOULD go down, this allows opportunity to enter — also, it’s just a more relaxing way to live. The man without expectations can never be disappointed by outside circumstances. That’s a powerful trait to have.

15. Learn to say “no.” If you have had trouble saying no to people in the past, spend an entire day where you say no to almost every offer or request you receive. “Do you have a minute?” the telemarketer asks you. “No, actually I don’t.” Do you want the medium soda for only 1 cent more? “No, I want the small.”

16. Learn to say “yes.” Similarly, spend an entire day where you say yes to anything short of, “Do you want any of this heroin?” See where that takes you — it won’t be as interesting as the Jim Carrey movie about saying yes, but it will change your perspective.

17. Do push-ups every day. I do 120 push-ups every day, broken into three sets of 40. Good, difficult, slow push-ups. Even if you accomplish nothing else that day, you know you’ve done your push-ups. Your body is stronger than it was yesterday, or the day before. That’s a cool feeling.

18. Go to matinee showings. Your date won’t mind, and it saves time for dinner or drinks afterward. There is no reason to spend $11.75 to see The Hangover II (or any movie, for that matter). The movie theatre should feel privileged that you’re paying for content at all, instead of just watching it on Netflix in a few months’ time.

19. Call out the elephant in the room. This is particularly useful in business, although it works with relationships and family matters as well. I once spent a long time listening to a company’s objections as to why they couldn’t advertise on my site — fit, branding, demographic wasn’t quite right, etc. “Is this because our CPM is higher than you were looking to spend?” I asked abruptly. Yes, they admitted: I was charging too much. So I lowered my prices, and they said OK. All of their other objections were nonsense.

20. Don’t call out the elephant in the room. There are times when stating the obvious is crass and makes you seem like a mercenary, rather than an entrepreneur. It takes experience to learn when not to inject the subject of prices or “goals” into a discussion. Sometimes a lunch is just a lunch, and you don’t have to get anything out of it.

21. Become less political. I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote or care about the direction of your country. But focus more on self-improvement and personal financial well-being. You’ll be a much happier person for it, and more attractive to others when you’re not filled with partisan hatred. :)

22. Buy a Kindle. You’ll read far more. Those who read a lot never have a shortage of conversation topics, and remain intrigued by the world around them.

23. Make your own coffee. It’s fresh, and it’s easier to get the day started with an immediate dose of caffeine. Also dramatically cheaper; I switched to the “make your own brew” school of thought after paying $4.65 for a mocha recently — sorry, I don’t care how much discretionary income you have, $4.65 is too much to pay for some hot steamed milk, condensed chocolate flavoring, and a couple shots of espresso splashed in.

24. Eat less junk. I’ve scaled back on “fast foods.” It’s not even cheap anymore. 2 scrambled eggs and a bowl of fresh fruit cost roughly the same amount, if not less, than a fast food breakfast. 

25. Wear clothes that fit. If your clothes make you look like a Seinfeld extra, time to give them away to the Salvation Army (see, charity!) and buy tighter fitting shirts, jeans, and jacket. Tight is in.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.