1. Keep learning. Being done with school only means you’re at the very beginning of your education. There is still an infinite amount of books to read, classes to take, articles to discuss, people to meet, languages to learn. Never stop, and your brain will stay young.
2. Look at the world as if you’re writing a novel and you’re desperate to make it feel human – notice the little details in the objects surrounding you, notice the little quirks in your coworkers and your spouse and the barista you see two days a week, notice that feeling you have that doesn’t seem to have a direct verbal translation and think about how you would describe it on a page.
3. Don’t try to win arguments or debates. Just try to leave them more intelligent than you were when they started.
4. Put more good things into your body than bad things. Allow for some balance, so that cookies and beer and cheeseburgers don’t start to feel like forbidden fruits. But always focus on unhealthy things being the exception, and natural foods being the rule.
5. Slow down and really say ‘I’m good, how are you doing?’ after the cashier asks you how you are doing. Mean it when you ask.
6. Be a good friend. A really good, loyal, honest, foul-weather friend.
7. And stop being friends with people who make you feel like you have to ‘earn’ their time. Save that energy for people who treat you like you matter, who love you for you, and who never make you feel like you need to ‘deserve’ their love.
8. Ask someone as many questions as possible about their life – until you reach a point where you’re not doing it because it’s a polite social habit, but because you’ve gotten far enough below the boring social surface that you know just truly want to know more.
9. Stop putting off the things that only take a few minutes and just knock them off your to-do list now, before you spend too much time thinking about how you don’t want to do them. The faster they are finished, the more freed your mind is to relax, instead of thinking about how you should be doing those two-minute tasks.
10. Start saying ‘yes’ to the things that scare you but that you know you secretly want to do anyway.
11. Make a sincere effort to truly listen to every single thing someone is saying to you, without worrying about what you’re going to say next. You might be bad at it initially, but listening is a muscle – you truly can get better.
12. Ask people directly for what you need from them. More quality time with your partner, some support on your latest project at work, a night out with your best friends after a stressful week. Don’t wait around for them to get the hint. Just ask and – as long as you’re not behaving in an entitled way – don’t feel bad about it.
13. Be as conscious as you can of what you’re reading and viewing and looking at. It’s easy to consistently fall back into the ‘mindlessly consuming’
14. Watch documentaries about important concepts or ideas or histories that you know nothing about.
15. Go to bed when you’re tired, even if it’s earlier than your typical bedtime.
16. Try to notice three new things every day on your commute to work or your walk to the train or wherever you’re going. There are always new things.
17. Remember how lucky you are to be alive, every single time you wake up.
18. Stop wasting food. Pay attention to how much food gets left on the table at restaurants, how much food gets thrown out at parties, the meals people throw out so they’re not tempted to ‘eat the other half.’ Think about how a starving person would react if they saw you throw out this food.
19. Say ‘thank you.’ All the time.
20. Forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made, after you’ve done what you can to make amends. Acknowledge it, feel it, learn from it, and then let go.
21. Don’t check your email on the weekend if you really don’t have to. If it can wait until Monday, let it wait until Monday and then continue living your life.
22. Listen for the moments when you’re tempted to start talking about someone behind their back. Think about why you’re doing this. Is it because you’re bored, or insecure, or frustrated with them but afraid of confronting them? Focus on handling this problem instead of bringing up someone who’s not there.
23. Be okay with needing people. Not needing people is the weird thing.
24. Never take advantage of fresh air. Breathe it in consciously every time you get the chance.
25. Text people back. No one’s ever going to be mad that you responded to them too quickly. Do it when you happens and then it’s one less thing taking up space in your brain.
26. Compliment others with no motivation besides wanting to make their day a little better.
27. If a certain television show always makes you laugh, re-watch it as many damn times as you want.
28. Be okay with the fact that you’re human and therefore, sometimes tiny things will bother you. Acknowledge your own frustration, and then do everything you can to save that energy for something that’s actually going to still matter in a few hours. Anger over tiny things wants to pass, you just have to let it.
29. If people make you feel really wonderful in a certain way, tell them so. Chances are, they’ll never forget you telling them so.
30. You’re stuck with you your whole life, so be kinder to yourself.