Far from seeing myself as a sage of wisdom, I am some way off having everything figured out. But in my 39 years on this earth, I have developed a philosophical way of living that has brought me good health, an abundance of happiness, and the ability to live life completely on my own terms.
The following are a set of rules I have cultivated over my 39 years.
They have remained largely unwritten up until now. But after a time of reflection, I’ve decided to put these down on paper in the hope that someone might gain some value from them.
Some of these rules I’ve intentionally tried to live by. Some I’ve followed as a matter of course. And many of them are what I try to impart onto my clients in order to help them create healthier and happier lives for themselves.
Feel free to absorb what is useful and discard what is not.
1. Go shirtless whenever you get the opportunity
People give me stick for this all the time. But I live in a tropical country where it’s hot and humid, and strutting around the island with my shirt off makes me feel free.Take your shirt off whenever the opportunity arises. At the beach, by the pool, at bbq’s, when exercising or playing sports.
Expose your skin to sunlight. This will increase your Vitamin D levels and release endorphins which will enhance your mood.
But doing this also makes us vulnerable. Not only to the elements, but to the judgement and opinions of others.
If you’re too embarrassed to get your shirt off, then do something about it. Get comfortable in your own skin and build a body you can be proud of.
2. Get a tan
Not only does having a tan make you look good, but it just makes you feel good. This will boost your confidence and in turn make you more desirable to others. It’s a ripple effect.
Don’t believe the hype we are fed about skin cancer and hide yourself away, scared of the sun. The sun is our energy and there are endless benefits to direct sun exposure at certain times in the day.
Life is better with a tan.
3. Go barefoot as often as you can
Walk on grass. Walk on sand. Walk on dirt. Exercise without shoes.Our feet weren’t designed to be laced up in boots or perched on heels all day. Allow them to move freely.
Going barefoot has been shown to have a host of benefits. From increasing antioxidants, reducing inflammation and creating a positive immune response.
But more than that, it’s just the best way to connect your body with nature. Something most of us could always do with more of.
4. Grow your hair out long
From the age of 16 I had my head shaved to a grade 2 and was forced to keep it as a buzz cut well into my mid-twenties.
When I left the army, one of the main reasons I cited was to pursue my passion for having long hair. Half tongue-in-cheek, but half true.
For me, growing my hair long symbolises a sense of freedom and allows you to create your own identity. Not to mention unleashing your inner spartan.
5. Win the morning
Creating a morning routine that serves you and your individual circumstances is the surest way to set you up for productive and happy day.
How this looks is completely up to you. But prioritise doing things for yourself first, being pro-active rather than re-active. If you can’t show up for yourself, then how can you show up as your best for others.
Breathe. Read. Walk. Exercise. Plan. Journal. Mediate. Do whatever you have time for that will put you on the front foot for the day.
6. Own the night
Setting a nightly routine is just as important. Make sure you spend the last few hours of your day doing things that will promote a quality and restful sleep.
Don’t stay up late stimulating the brain with TV, computer games or social media and then wonder why you can’t fall asleep.
Give yourself a curfew. Limit food, alcohol, sugar and anything that is going to negatively impact your sleep.
Take the time to audit how your day went. Plan ahead for the next day. Empty your mind of any problems your sub-conscious might be trying to solve.
7. Watch the sunset
There’s no better way to end a day than watching the sun setting on the earth.
It’s one of the most calming feelings and an amazing way to nourish your soul. It has to be one of my absolute favourite ways to spend to some time.
It gives you a chance to show gratitude for what the day has brought, and to remind yourself that tomorrow will always bring a new day and new opportunities.
8. Do things you enjoy
Life is simply too short for us not to spend it doing things that we enjoy.
Pursue your own interests and hobbies, and if you can, try to make a living out of it. Doing things you enjoy will trigger your internal rewards system and allow for a more fulfilling life.
9. Leave a positive impact on people
Try to leave a positive impression on every interaction you have with other humans.
Whether it’s a friend or a complete stranger. Aim to brighten up their day and leave them in a state of positivity.
Your energy is infectious, and you never know the ripple effect a positive action can have.
10. Give to others
There is nothing more fulfilling than giving to others.
Donate to charities, help a friend in need, tip generously when you can. It doesn’t take much.
Give something back, contribute to your community and to the wider society.
11. Smile at kids
I’ve witnessed first-hand the joy a baby or toddler can have on even a total stranger. It is often enough to melt hearts.
Take the opportunity to smile, wave or pull a funny face whenever you capture the gaze of a child. This is a sure-fire way to see pure happiness in their face, which also allows you to enjoy that happiness yourself.
12. Play with animals
Never pass on the opportunity to play with a passing dog or to stroke a neighbour’s cat. Visit nature parks. Interact with all sorts of different animals.
You only have to look at the way children respond to animals to see the joy it can bring.
13. Hope for the best, plan for the worst
Be optimistic and hope for positive outcomes in all that you do. But also prepare for the worst that can happen and plan for all possibilities. Even if that means disaster.
Accept that life just has a habit of kicking you in the face every once in a while.
Life is not always fair, the sooner we realise that the better.
14. Don’t rely on anyone, for anything
Take accountability and responsibility for yourself and the people you love. Your own actions and behaviours will determine exactly where you are and what you get out of life.
Don’t rely on governments, companies or even family. It’s no one else’s duty to save you.
Make brave and bold decisions. Trust your instincts.
Taking full responsibility for all that you do brings immense power.
15. Back yourself
Have confidence in yourself.
This can only be achieved by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes you will fail, accept that this is ok and learn from your mistakes along the way. More often than not you will surpass your own expectations.
Either way, if you don’t have trust in yourself then how can you expect to win the trust of others.
16. Enjoy your own company
Travel solo. Go to the cinema alone. Go to bars on your own. Eat at restaurants by yourself.
There’s nothing that builds confidence more than being able to walk into a restaurant and ask for a table for one or sitting at a bar and striking up a conversation with a complete stranger.
Be confident in who you are and comfortable in your own skin.
17. Make time for doing nothing
We don’t have to fill our days with endless tasks or appointments in the quest for keeping ourselves busy or to feel as though we are accomplishing things.
Sometimes it’s ok to just do absolutely nothing. Get a comfy chair, or even a hammock. Sit. Ponder. Contemplate.
This isn’t being lazy. In a hectic and crazy world, taking the time to properly switch off is exactly what we need more of.
18. Stop to breathe
There are a few things the human body needs in order to survive, but nothing is more important than oxygen.
Yet how many of us take the time to learn how to breathe properly?
Breathing long, slow, deep breaths put us in a state of relaxation. But most of us tend to breathe short, sharp and shallow breaths. Often through our mouths, which puts us into a highly stressed state.
There’s no better way to create a sense of calm, than to slow down and focus on sending refreshing and energising oxygen around the body.
19. If you’re not early, you’re late
Respect other people’s time more than your own.
There’s nothing worse than having to stand around and wait for someone.
If you commit to being somewhere at a certain time, then you better be doing all you can to be there.
20. Be your own boss
Having a boss, manager or team leader that you don’t like or get on with can be one of the biggest causes of misery in someone’s life.
Not only do you allow someone else to dictate what you do and how quickly it needs to be done. You are also at the mercy of their own emotions and feelings. This creates enormous amounts of anxiety.
Working for yourself is THE biggest way to create a sense of freedom. Taking responsibility for what you do and how you make money is one of the most liberating feelings you can experience.
21. Answer calls on your own terms
Very rarely will I answer a call that I’m not expecting or isn’t pre-arranged. I don’t even have a ringer on my phone.
There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard and having to be responsive to other people’s needs or requests. Often people call for no particular reason or just to kill time for themselves.
If it’s important they will call back or send a message. Talk to people on your own terms, and they will start to value your time.
22. Change your perspective
Take the time to look at things from different angles.
This allows you to have empathy with other people that you might disagree with and can also enable you to solve your own problems by looking at things in a different light.
In order to do this, you need to remove yourself from a situation, or even completely change your environment or surroundings.
You will be amazed at how differently you will see things.
23. Say Goodbye
Don’t be afraid to stop interacting or socialising with certain people.
Some people are extremely draining and can literally just suck the energy out of you.
You don’t owe anything to anyone. Whether it’s a friend, client or even a family member.
This can be extremely difficult. But it’s up to you to conserve your own energy and use it to serve yourself.
Don’t be afraid to cut these people out of your life and say goodbye.
24. Spend money on things that will make you wealthier
Don’t spend money buying things to impress other people.
There will always be someone that has a nicer watch, car or bigger house than you. Invest your money into things that will create you more money. And invest your time into learning about these things.
25. Spend money on things that add to your life
Travel. Visit new countries. Experience different cultures. Learn new things. Set yourself challenges.
Spend money on things that create long lasting memories you can look back on and be grateful for. Not on things that will give you instant gratification and often cause you regret.
26. Health is Wealth
The most profitable investment you can make, is in your own health.
Eat healthy, organic food where you can. Buy a gym membership. Hire a coach.
Spend money on things that will improve your health and add to your quality of life.
If you think buying wellness is expensive, try illness.
27. Pay your dues
There aren’t many worse places to be than in someone’s debt.
Don’t let someone chase you for money that is owed. It’s uncomfortable for both parties.
Don’t delay it.
If you owe someone money, do your best to pay it back as quickly as you can. Pay your dues on time, every time.
28. Don’t complain without offering a solution
I’m tired, I’m cold, I’m hungry, I’m bored, I’m poor, I’m overweight, I’m out of shape.
These are all common complaints that people regularly make. But before you complain out loud and divert your negative energy onto others, ask yourself what can you do about it?
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, then change your attitude towards it.
Don’t become a victim of your circumstances. Take responsibility and accountability for solving your own problems.
Become the man that doesn’t complain.
29. Give yourself a break
Far too many of us set such high expectations for ourselves or expect perfectionism in everything we do.
There’s nothing wrong with striving to do your best. But this often creates frustration if we don’t meet those expectations and can lead to procrastination, the biggest killer of dreams.
Go easy on yourself. Focus on progress not perfection.
30. Move at every opportunity
Walk, run, bike, hike, swim, climb, crawl. Just move your body through space.
We aren’t designed to be sedentary or spend 8-12 hours per day sat still at a desk or in a cubicle. So, if your job does involve this then find every opportunity you can to move more (Or change your job).
Movement gets the organs working as they were designed to and pumps blood and oxygen around the body and to the brain.
If you’re not moving, don’t be surprised if you feel tired, lethargic or depressed.
Movement is medicine.
31. Lift heavy things
We owe it to ourselves to build a body that is durable and able to perform the tasks of life effectively and pain free.
By moving heavy objects, we build muscle, strengthen joints and increase bone density. All these things will allow us to live a healthier and more mobile life.
Lifting weights not only builds strength. But it also builds character.
There is nothing more humbling than failing to make a rep. And there is nothing more empowering than coming back the following session and nailing it.
32. Do things that raise your heart rate
Our genetics evolved in a way where we needed to elevate our heart rate every so often. Whether it was to escape the hunt of predators or to flee being attacked by fellow tribes.
In today’s world we don’t have the threat of being eaten by Tigers. But for us to truly thrive we should put ourselves in a position that we regularly activate the same fight or flight response.
Not by being constantly stressed by traffic, work deadlines or things that don’t really matter. But by forcing our bodies to move quickly and explosively as they were designed to do.
33. Never refuse a glass of water
Every cell, muscle and organ in our bodies depend on water in order to function. Yet people still don’t make it a priority and far too many people are chronically dehydrated.
Get rid of the sodas, juices and energy drinks and let water do its job of keeping the body functioning as it should.
If you are ever offered a glass of water, then make a point to never refuse.
34. Food is fuel
Food is the fuel that our bodies need in order to survive.
It gives us energy and allows our body to perform at an optimal level. Without it, we simply wouldn’t be able to function as human beings.
Over the last 100 years, due to the abundance of food that we now have available that is being constantly marketed to us by the food industry (to make them more money), we have changed the reasons behind why we eat.
We’ve developed eating habits based around convenience, emotion and self-gratification.
Think about eating as a way of fuelling our bodies with the energy, vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to live long and healthy lives.
35. Protein & Produce first
Base your meals around a high-quality source of protein and pair with a good generous serving of fresh produce. Organic where possible.
Meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables. These have formed the basis of the human diet for millions of years. As a general rule, if a food didn’t exist 100 years ago then you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
If you follow this rule 80% of the time and allow yourself to flexible and eat the foods you really enjoy for the other 20%, you will literally never need to worry about what to eat ever again.
36. Treat Yoself
Accept that it’s fine to treat yourself every once in a while. Life is for living, and food is something that should be enjoyed.
Don’t feel guilty about indulging in delicious foods or tasty drinks. But learn to do it in moderation.
This will help you develop a healthy relationship with food and make it even more enjoyable when you do give yourself the opportunity, making it a far more rewarding experience.
37. Get more Sleep
If you want to improve your performance, body composition or energy levels. Get more sleep.
This is something that is so simple and obvious that people always overlook it.
There are countless studies that show why sleep is so important. Not just from a physical aspect, but for mental health, mood and overall happiness.
Getting enough quality sleep is the first step to improving almost all areas of life.
38. Set goals
Having goals give you direction and allow you to stay focused on what’s important to you.
This keeps you motivated and creates a sense of personal satisfaction as well as a sense of purpose. These are things we need as humans if we want to live a fulfilling life.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your goals might be. Always have something that you are working towards.
39. Your habits define you
Achieving your goals doesn’t usually come down to one big thing. Getting stronger, building a business, making money. All of these come as a culmination of repeating many small things consistently over time.
If you want to get in great shape, you need to adopt the habits of someone that is in great shape. Become someone that walks more, exercises more, goes to bed early, makes healthier choices with food.
If you want to get rich, you need to adopt the habits and mindset of rich people.
If you change nothing, nothing will change.
If any of these rules resonated with you, or you have a set of rules you follow yourself then I’d love to hear from you.
Feel free to share with anyone you think might find them useful and let me know some of your favourites in the comments below.