TIP TUESDAY: Improve Your Life One Day at a Time

{excerpted from Inc. magazine online}

Imagine your life this week, starting today, filled with simple acts of happiness — some of which can be done in mere minutes to set your day on the right path.

But before you consider implementing these practices into your schedule, a fair warning: some may require eating humble pie and stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Why? Because improving your life means improving the life of someone else. Wharton professor and bestselling author, Adam Grant, said this: “The most meaningful way to succeed is to help other people succeed.”

In the end, virtuous habits tied to giving, service, gratitude, learning, and meaningful relationships beget success and happiness. Here’s how you can get started.

Monday: Practice active, non-judgemental listening.

Listening builds trust. But, it must be in a receptive, non judgmental manner. Have you every spoken to someone who wouldn’t even let you finish before they began to speak over you, arguing their point? They weren’t listening at all. When people listen without judgment to one another they set the stage to receive feedback they can’t get in any other way. Even if you have limited time with someone, look them in the eye, be totally present with that person and listen to what they have to say.

Tuesday: Shine the spotlight on a fellow coworkers or employee.

Considering this noble habit may bruise your ego, there’s something powerful that happens when we let other people have the glory. On Tuesday, pick out an employee or coworker who deserves the accolades and shine the spotlight on him or her; let that person be seen, heard, respected, praised, and considered special. When we praise someone at work on a weekly basis (according to Gallup research), it increases a person’s individual productivity and they are more likely to stay with their organization.

Wednesday: Focus on what really matters.

Actually, this may be good advice every day and Steve Jobs would agree. He once said: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Thursday: Simplify.

As a followup to the last point, truly happy people live a simple life. They have a simple schedule. They live according to their values and purpose. They set boundaries around what comes into their life and have no problem saying no to anything that doesn’t serve them. On Tuesday, if something coming your way has little value and if it doesn’t make you better on Wednesday, simply walk away.

Friday: Learn from a mentor.

The smartest people increase their knowledge by seeking out connections and wise sages to learn from. Let me ask you: who are the people of influence in your life? Invite one of them to coffee and go out of your way to learn something new from this person. It will make you better, and he or she will appreciate the chance to pay it forward.

Saturday: Express kindness through a text or email.

Take two minutes on Saturday to write a positive email or text praising or thanking someone you know for something they did during the week. Now that you’ve kick-started this gratitude habit, consider what science has to say if you keep it going. Shawn Achor, Harvard-trained happiness researcher and New York Times best-selling author of “The Happiness Advantage,” says people who do this every day will release dopamine in the brain. He says this is one of the best ways to create a long-term positive mindset and develop strong social connections, which is the greatest predictor of long-term happiness.

Sunday: Reflect on what your true priorities are going to be next week.

The happiest people have a purpose-driven life. Before you head into work on Monday again, take time to remind yourself today that the purpose of your life is not to work ten or twelve hours per day, five days per week for 30 years, then retire to a golf course in Florida. It should be to discover your true calling, journey to a great destiny, and leave a lasting legacy behind.

So begin the week thinking about how best to answer three very important life questions:

What significant impact will I make on people and society?
What is that one gift I will give to improve the lives of others?
Whom will I boldly serve to fulfill my purpose?