Sam Holstein

6 Things You Can Do to Make Your Life Better That Are Guaranteed to Work

6 Things You Can Do to Make Your Life Better That Are Guaranteed to Work

Everyone reaches a point in life sometimes when they feel stuck. Maybe we feel miserable and like we have no options, or maybe we simply feel like we’re stalling.

Everyone’s path out of a tough spot is different, and no one solution will work for everyone. But everything on this list is something that is guaranteed to make your life better than it is today. If you don’t enjoy your life and need a change, any one of these things would be a great place to start.

Doing any one of these things alone will make your life better. Doing them all is like rocket fuel. My life transformed after I started making a serious attempt at all these habits. I don’t always succeed, but the attempt is always more than worth the effort.

1. Read Nonfiction Books

You can’t accomplish anything great if you don’t know what you’re doing. You can’t even aim for anything worthwhile if you don’t understand the world around you. The fastest, best, most powerful way to learn all these things is by reading authoritative nonfiction books.

Sure, people can teach themselves skills using online video services. People can watch documentaries about the world. I do these things sometimes. But every time, the depth and power of the information presented don’t hold a candle to what you can learn from even an average nonfiction book.

Some things nonfiction books have done for me:

  1. Given me the psychological literacy I needed to accept my mental illness and enter intensive treatment. It also gave me the psychological knowledge to understand my treatment and not get overwhelmed by it.
  2. Opened my eyes to the career possibilities of writing, taught me everything I know about writing, and taught me everything I know about building a blogging business. This knowledge lets me build a five-figure blogging business.
  3. Corrected the flawed lessons of traditional schooling. Nonfiction books gave me a proper education in biology, physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and other STEM skills. You would think this doesn’t matter for a blogger, but this knowledge has proven invaluable in every area of my life—education matters.
  4. Taught me about the many different life experiences people have. Reading memoirs by all kinds of people opened me up to the diversity of human lives on this planet. Memoirs also show me what we share in common.

Reading nonfiction books is like a skill boost. It’s free XP toward anything you want in life. Don’t pass that up.

2. Go to the Gym Regularly

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking we are creatures whose brain controls our bodies, but this is simply not the case. The brain controls the body, but the body also controls the brain. If we take care of our bodies, our brains get smarter, and our minds get better. If we neglect our bodies, our brains and minds suffer accordingly. A great way to improve your life starting today is to take better care of your body.

People in developed nations are notorious for taking shit care of our bodies. Obesity is a developed-world epidemic. So is low nutritional availability in our food. If you start taking even halfway decent care of your body, you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.

In my opinion, the best way to go from “couch potato” to “fitness hero” is to start going to the gym regularly ASAP. You can do at-home workouts, specialty fitness routines, pick up a running habit, or any number of fitness things, but these seem easier to wimp out on during the exercise and easier to quit after a few days when it gets boring.

Gym habits, on the other hand, are demanding. It’s clear when you’ve succeeded — you got your ass to the gym. Since you dragged yourself to the gym, you are more likely to work out hard. Once you’re done, you feel far more proud of yourself because you’ve done far harder work. When you feel exhausted, stronger, and proud, you’re more likely to do it all again.

You don’t have to be a gym hero from day one. The first few days, congratulate yourself if you even walk through the front door of the gym. Use the sauna, maybe do some easy exercise, then take your victory and go home. Just build the habit of showing up. The more often you show up, the more you will want to do. Over time, you will become a gym hero without even trying.

3. Meditate Every Day

The science is in, folks, and it says meditation is awesome. Meditation is up there with regular exercise in terms of the breadth and depth of awesome things it can do for your health. It can cure depression and anxiety, lengthen your attention span, prevent memory loss, improve sleep, control pain, and more besides.

The most important benefit of meditation, though, isn’t physiological. It’s mental. Mindfulness meditation teaches you how to stop avoiding your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It teaches you how to be fully in your life.

This concept can seem abstract to people who haven’t experienced the benefits of mindfulness training. It’s hard to conceptualize if you haven’t done it. But if you stick with it for ten or twenty days in a row, you will start to experience a kind of satisfaction and joy in life you’ve only felt occasionally before. It won’t make you happy forever, but it will change how you look at your life.

4. Quit Using Intoxicating Substances

Rely on your morning caffeine to wake up in the morning? Do you need that drink at the end of the day to unwind? Like to take a hit with friends when you’re having a good time? Time to let these things go.

Using substances like caffeine and alcohol isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. Used sparingly, alcohol can be worth the risks. Sparing use of caffeine and cannabis can even be beneficial. But most people who use substances don’t do so sparingly.

Substance use holds you back not because of the negative physiological effects, real though they may be. The worst part is the way substances numb you to your feelings.

When you’re using substances, you can’t get in touch with your body. You can’t feel the feelings happening in your body. You can’t react to your feelings in a healthy way or treat yourself with care and respect. A pattern builds; when the numbness wears off and unpleasant feelings return, you need more substances to bury them.

This pattern is what creates addicts, but it sets in well before one becomes an addict. Every regular substance user, no matter how moderate, is engaged in this pattern in some way.

A great way to improve your life today is to quit using substances and begin paying attention to what your body tells you.

You don’t have to quit substances forever. But quit for long enough that you no longer rely on substances to numb signals from your body. Try 60 days of sobriety. See how it feels. If it feels like shit, that’s a sign you needed to quit more than you thought you did.

5. Declutter Your Home

Cleaning can make your house clean temporarily. But you have to stay on top of it. The more stuff you have, the more effort it takes to stay on top of things. Decluttering is the only way to reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning for good.

Decluttering doesn’t have to be a herculean effort. You can do a little each day to make your space more livable. Get a box and label it your donation box. Set a repeating to-do to pick one thing each day from your house and put it in the box. Work on adopting the mindset “If I haven’t used this in a while, I should get rid of it.”

If you’re more determined, there’s more you can do. I would recommend buying The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and following the KonMari method. I spent years as a minimalist before discovering the KonMari method, and the KonMari method truly changed my life.

6. Cut Down Your Expenses & Start Saving Money

Who wouldn’t benefit from more money? The easiest way to make money is to spend less of it.

Most people think to have more money, they need a higher income. For a surprising number of people in the US, though, that’s not the case. To quote myself:

Most people who are not wealthy imagine wealth works something like this — the more money you make, the wealthier you are. People who make $150,000 a year are wealthier than $50,000 a year, people who make $500,000 a year are wealthier than people who make $150,000 a year, so on and so forth.

The stark reality is that this just isn’t true. There are plenty of people who make $80,000 who have upwards of $3 million in the bank… and there are even more people who make $500,000 a year who are flat broke, people who can’t make ends meet at the end of the month and who have nothing for retirement.

That’s important. It means you can start building wealth no matter your income level. You just need to learn to track and manage your expenses.

My favorite expense tracker is Mint by Intuit. It’s nearly fully automatic. You can log in today and look at detailed charts categorizing your expenses. Taking a look at these charts will give you a high-level idea of how you spend your financial resources.

Nearly everyone who looks at their reports for the first time is in for a shock. If we don’t track our expenses, we often spend more on discretionary expenses than we realize. Cut down on these overspending categories, and you will be able to free up a surprising amount of money.

If you’re interested in taking your money game to the next level, I recommend reading Your Money or Your Life and The Secret of the Millionaire Mind. These books don’t teach you about financial systems — any fool with a bank account can try their hand at financial systems and lose bucketloads of money. These books teach you about the psychology of money, which really separates the wealthy from the rest.

In Conclusion

Did this list seem boring? That’s because it is. What people need to do to improve their lives isn’t a mystery. You don’t need a degree to write self-help because it isn’t complicated.

But it isn’t enough to read about it. You have to do it. So switch over to Google Maps and search “gym near me.” Pick one, sign up for a membership, and get your butt over there. Search “library near me” and sign up for a library card. Download the Ten Percent Happier app. You get the picture.