This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase based on my recommendation, I may make a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.
We all – I believe – have an idea of what our ‘best life’ resembles. Up until a few years ago, mine would have been a life materialised up to my eyeballs. That was before I realised ownership of ‘things’ didn’t guarantee you ownership of happiness.
As I’ve deepened my understanding of well-being, I have become more aware of what it means to be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I still love stuff, but I also have a much more accurate picture of my best life and how I go about living it.
Here’s the excellent news, you don’t need to wait on anybody or anything to start living your best life. You have complete creative control over it. And what you do – the positive action you take – will determine how soon you get on with living it too.
In their book, The Happiness Revolution, Dr Andy Cope and Professor Paul McGee provide a 10-point manifesto (or action plan if you prefer) to help you live your best life. Spoiler alert: it centres on practical well-being boosting principles because (you guessed it) happiness is an inside job.
With tips grounded in the science of human flourishing and the reality of life, I found some golden nuggets of advice to equip us with the necessary skills to thrive. This is why I’m sharing 5 of my favourite takeaways – actions I’ve personally been taking – with you today.
5 Clever Ways to Help You Live Your Best Life
#01 Stoke your Internal Boiler
If you’re living your best life, it’s a given you’re going to feel quite pumped about it. Feeling pumped about life is a great indicator you’re on the right track, so it’s important to understand what lights those internal fires, the ones that energise and signify purpose.
Explore what life has to offer you. Identify the small (or maybe even big things) that float your boat. This is where the real passion for life will come for you.
The Happiness Revolution included an activity I found particularly helpful in getting me to focus in the right direction. I’ve included it here:
Imagine you’re 109 years old. Now, imagine you’re looking back on your life as it is TODAY. Next, finish the following sentences:
– I spent too much time worrying about …
– I spent too little time doing things such as…
– If I could go back in time, then what I would do differently from today onward is…
I’d advise you to act upon your answers; it’s a sure-fire way to get you ready and raring to go again.
#02 Stay True to your Values
Life is so much better when the right things drive you. Often, when we don’t achieve, it’s not because we’re not good enough, but because our goal didn’t align with our values. The same can be said for when we achieve our goals but still feel unfulfilled – it’s that value alignment thing again.
But what should your values be? That’s a question only you can answer, and there are ways to work them out. There’s a helpful exercise included in the book, and I also recommend the Dr Demartini Online Value Determination Tool, which is free to access and use.
To be honest, even with the tools, it isn’t exactly easy to work out your values; you do need to give yourself some time and be utterly honest. The most important piece of advice I can offer you here is to make sure you answer how you genuinely feel, not how you think you should feel (that’s where the utter honesty part comes in).
Once you’ve pinpointed your values, use them to guide you in your decisions, especially in setting your goals.
‘Values are like a compass. They will guide you…Sometimes you might get a little lost, which is fine. Life has many paths…and everyone loses their way sometimes. When you feel lost, consult your values once more. They will bring you back on track.”Dr Andy Cope & Prof Paul Mcgee
#03 HUGG your goals
Having goals is essential to a rewarding and fulfilling life. And, if we align them to our values – as advocated in The Happiness Revolution – they become a lot more meaningful (and achievable).
There is tons of advice out there on how to set goals. Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat controversially, Cope & McGee advise against setting SMART goals (you know, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Time-Based) instead start setting HUGG.
HUGG is a Huge Unbelievably Great Goal. The type of goal that will spark your ambition, excite you to your core and take you to the outer limits of your abilities. As the authors say, HUGG ‘doesn’t just whet your appetite, it drenches it in motivation’.
If HUGG sounds scary or overwhelming, that’s natural. You’re also not expected to achieve your HUGG overnight. HUGG’s are a journey. You reach a HUGG by setting a series of SUGGs – Small Unbelievably Great Goals – small habits you can build daily.
And do you know what, I get what they’re saying. A HUGG gives you a good kick up the bum; it advances you out of your comfort zone much faster, encourages you to stop procrastinating and ‘taps into your willpower and way power’, which for me, is far more empowering (and exciting) than some of the SMART goals I’ve set before.
#04 Make it a Million
To live your best life, you need a good vehicle in which to do it – I’m talking about your body. This isn’t about how you look, but it is about how well you take care of yourself. Exercise and good nutrition are paramount to this.
It’s also no secret that exercise itself can make you feel much happier. However, that doesn’t always mean we’re so eager to do it. One suggestion I took on board was changing the word exercise to movement. It’s impressive how reframing something can make it much more accessible and appealing.
Additionally, we’re encouraged to increase the number of steps we take each year by one million. Now before the eye-rolling commences, hear me out. When you break that down, it’s more achievable than you initially think. It’s an additional 172 steps an hour – which is the equivalent of me pacing from my front door to my back door ten times (I have a small house). It’s not really that much at all, and if you work at a desk, it’s actually terrific for you to get up and move for a minute or two every hour.
#05 Quit Making Happiness the Goal
One of my favourite learnings from The Happiness Revolution was to quit making happiness itself the goal. ‘Happiness is a by-product of living life well’ Our aim should be to experience life in its fullness, all the highs and lows, all the good and the bad. No matter what we face, ‘aspects of happiness such as contentment and inner peace can still reach us.’ Happiness isn’t based only on external factors but on your own inner sense of well-being. So my takeaway was to stop searching and start living; that truly is the way to lead your best life.
You can find out more about The Happiness Revolution: A Manifesto for Living Your Best Life by Dr Andy Cope & Professor Paul McGee HERE.
These tips are just the tip of the iceberg from Cope & McGee’s book. I do recommend a read, especially if you like your self-help books quick, accessible and funny. How do you live your best life? Have you tried any of these tips yet? How did you get on? What’s one thing you’d like to change in your life right now? Whatever you’d like to say – or ask – please do. Just leave me a comment in the box below. I’m happy to help and I always love to hear from you!