8 principles to help you stay mentally balanced and happy

I thought to share with you some of the things that I’ve written down for myself over the past few years. Thinking about these principles helps me when life gets difficult or I catch myself confused.

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Angelo and Santeri enjoying a view over the city.

If you haven’t got such a list for yourself already, I recommend you to make one. You might even get some ideas from this post.

Allow yourself to suck

When you jump into something new, don’t expect yourself to be good at it straight away. It sounds obvious, but what is not so easy to grasp is how difficult some of those “simple” things can be.

Many times, something that you try for the first time turns out to be brutally difficult. As an example, writing to this site is a major effort, and it feels to me that I still never quite get it right. Especially my first posts seemed to me like a disaster.

Try to master a new domain by filming a short film, coding a website or cooking an excellent meal that you haven’t done before. When you really want to do something and you try it but fail, it can be a discouraging experience.

Everyone sucks at something before getting better in it. Make some space for a growth-mindset and don’t give up. Keep failing forward.

Never compare yourself to others

We all have different starting points and finishing lines. Comparing yourself to others is a true recipe for misery. It’s fine to look for inspiration, but comparing what others have to what you do will only serve to depress you.

Try to shift the perspective to comparing yourself today with yourself yesterday instead. Being a better version of who you are in things that you value the most is a healthy way to look at your own self.

Just one microscopic thing that you can improve per day has a huge impact over a longer span of time. You will even have a couple of days to take it easy in-between.

Believe that everything will be all right

If you believe that everything will eventually work out fine, you’ll be more secure in general. You will be confident to tell the truth and won’t fear rejection. When you think about it, everything tends to turn out all right no matter what happens, and if you truly believe this, you’ll remain strong.

Never let your ego grow too big

When you do things, there is a chance that you are sometimes successful. No matter how successful you get, remember to stay humble.

Recently I’ve heard about the “ Law of Jante”. It might have a grain of truth in it. It’s a satirical code of conduct about how people should act and behave in the Nordic countries. Among others, it includes commandments where it states that you shouldn’t think you are anything special, you are not to think that you are better than anyone else, or are not to expect that anyone cares about you.

The world doesn’t owe you anything, so don’t feel entitled and you will spare yourself from a lot of disappointment due to your high expectations.

Value people around you more than yourself and take everyone’s perspectives into consideration. Gift and spend on your close ones, while not forgetting to love your own self as well.

Value your time because it’s precious

In one of my previous posts, I’ve discussed how discipline equals freedom. It can sound a bit controversial. The ability to set priorities and motivate yourself over the long-term frees you from your own sudden impulses and distractions. It’s rare that something sustainably good comes out without putting in the effort and dedication.

Work hard and remember to sometimes enjoy it. In a free society the time and ability to spend it are the most precious things that one can have. Value it accordingly. It also often happens that the journey towards something takes longer than the time you will be able to spend in the destination (if not forever), so you better enjoy the process.

Don’t worry about things that you cannot affect

Focus instead on things that you can impact and influence. At some point I read an article about what dying people of age regretted the most about doing in their lives. What often came up was their wish to have worried less. If you think about it, there are not so many things that are truly worth worrying about.

Worrying about things that are outside of your sphere of influence is energy that you are throwing into the trash bin. If you catch yourself ruminating about something like international politics, you are wasting your time. These things are probably outside of your sphere of influence anyway. There is a chance that things that you can influence will grow over time, and who knows, maybe at some point you will even make decisions about the world order. Today is however not the day to do that.

You cannot always control what happens to you or the people around you, but you can always choose how you react to it.

Don’t care too much about others’ expectations

Your family and friends want the best for you. They also often expect you to think or behave in a certain way. If they say something to you that doesn’t seem right, take it as feedback and try to reflect. Another big point of misery are the expectations that others have for you. Trying to please people around you can be a grave mistake for your own stability.

Nonetheless, remember to stay accountable and deliver upon the commitments that you make. Don’t compromise your integrity and consider trust to be the most important currency that you can develop with others.

Never complain twice

Complaining once is fine, but if you notice yourself complaining about the same for a second time, there is most probably something that you can do about it. For example, if you are not happy with your job, start doing what is necessary to change it. If you find yourself mistreated, speak out or change your surroundings.

Complaining and whining time and again is almost never good. In a free society you are not a product of your surroundings, but your own decisions and actions. Don’t blame others for your misfortunes.

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