Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life

Originally posted on THE POSITIVITY BLOG.

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.”

You may know Mark Twain for some of his very popular books like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

He was a writer and also a humorist, satirist and lecturer.

Twain is known for his many – and often funny – quotes. Here are a few of my favorite tips from him.

1. Approve of yourself.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

If you don’t approve of yourself, of your behavior and actions then you’ll probably walk around most of the day with a sort of uncomfortable feeling.

If you, on the other hand, approve of yourself then you tend to become relaxed and gain inner freedom to do more of what you really want.

This can, in a related way, be a big obstacle in personal growth.

You may have all the right tools to grow in some way but you feel an inner resistance. You can’t get there.

What you may be bumping into there are success barriers. You are putting up barriers in your own mind of what you may or may not deserve. Or barriers that tell you what you are capable of.

They might tell you that you aren’t really that kind of person that could this thing that you’re attempting.

Or if you make some headway in the direction you want to go you may start to sabotage for yourself. To keep yourself in a place that is familiar for you.

So you need give yourself approval and allow yourself to be who you want to be. Not look for the approval from others. But from yourself.

To dissolve that inner barrier or let go of that self-sabotaging tendency. This is no easy task and it can take time.

2. Your limitations may just be in your mind.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

So many limitations are mostly in our minds. We may for instance think that people will disapprove because we are too tall, too old or balding.

But these things mostly matter when you think they matter. Because you become self-conscious and worried about what people may think.

And people pick up on that and may react in negative ways.

Or you may interpret anything they do as a negative reaction because you are so fearful of a bad reaction and so focused inward on yourself.

If you, on the other hand, don’t mind then people tend to not mind that much either. And if you don’t mind then you won’t let that part of yourself become a self-imposed roadblock in your life.

It is, for instance, seldom too late to do what you want to do.

3. Lighten up and have some fun.

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Humor and laughter are amazing tools. They can turn any serious situation into something to laugh about. They can lighten the mood just about anywhere.

And a lighter mood is often a better space to work in because now your body and mind isn’t filled to the brim with negative emotions.

When you are more lighthearted and relaxed then the solution to a situation is often easier to both come up with and implement.

4. Let go of anger.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Anger is most of the time pretty pointless. It can cause situations to get out of hand. And from a selfish perspective it often more hurtful for the one being angry then the person s/he’s angry at.

So even if you feel angry at someone for days recognize that you are mostly just hurting yourself. The other person may not even be aware that you are angry at him or her.

So either talking to the person and resolving the conflict or letting go of anger as quickly as possible are pretty good tips to make your life more pleasurable.

5. Release yourself from entitlement.

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

When you are young your mom and dad may give a lot of things. As you grow older you may have a sort of entitlement. You may feel like the world should just give you what you want or that it owes you something.

This belief can cause a lot of anger and frustration in your life. Because the world may not give you what expect it to.

On the other hand, this can be liberating too. You realize that it is up to you to shape your own life and for you to work towards what you want. You are not a kid anymore, waiting for your parents or the world to give you something.

You are in the driver’s seat now. And you can go pretty much wherever you want.

6. If you’re taking a different path, prepare for reactions.

“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

I think this has quite a bit of relevance to self-improvement (and also to starting a business online now that I think about it).

If you start to change or do something different than you usually do then people may react in different ways.

Some may be happy for you. Some may be indifferent. Some may be puzzled or react in negative and discouraging ways.

Much of these reactions are probably not so much about you but about the person who said it and his/her life. How they feel about themselves is coming through in the words they use and judgement they make.

And that’s OK. I think it’s pretty likely that they won’t react as negatively as you may imagine. Or they will probably at least go back to focusing on their own challenges pretty soon.

So what other people may say and think and letting that hold you back is probably just fantasy and barrier you build in your mind.

You may find that when you finally cross that inner threshold you created then people around you may not shun you or go chasing after you with pitchforks. 🙂 They might just go: “OK”.

7. Keep your focus steadily on what you want.

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

What you focus your mind on greatly determines how things play out. You can focus on your problems and dwell in suffering and a victim mentality.

Or you can focus on the positive in situation, what you can learn from that situation or just focus your mind on something entirely else.

It may be “normal”� to dwell on problems and swim around in a sea of negativity. But that is a choice. And a thought habit.

You may reflexively start to dwell on problems instead of refocusing your mind on something more useful. But you can also start to build a habit of learning to gain more and more control of where you put your focus.

8. Don’t focus so much on making yourself feel good.

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

This may be a bit of a counter-intuitive tip. But as I wrote yesterday, one of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to make someone else feel good or to help them in some way.

This is a great way to look at things to create an upward spiral of positivity and exchange of value between people.

You help someone and both of you feel good.

The person you helped feels inclined to give you a hand later on since people tend to want to reciprocate. And so the both of you are feeling good and helping each other.

Those positive feelings are contagious to other people and so you may end up making them feel good too. And the help you received from your friend may inspire you to go and help another friend.

And so the upward spiral grows and continues.

9. Do what you want to do.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Awesome quote. And I really don’t have much to add to that one.

Well, maybe to write it down and keep it as a daily reminder – on your fridge or bathroom door – of what you can actually do with your life.

My take- Mark Twain has always been my favourite motivator. From his quotes to teachings about life.

Share and comment.

When You Think Life Sucks: Do These Things

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

Life is not always great.

At times it may not even feel OK.
When you’ve had several setbacks in a row, bad luck or things aren’t going your way – even though you do your best – then it may feel like: my life simply and honestly sucks.
I think most of us have had days and likely longer periods like weeks or months when we’ve thought about life like this and felt pretty glum and like there’s a personal little rain cloud over your head.

What can u do when that happens?
In this article I’d like to share 10 things that have helped me when I’ve asked myself: why does my life suck?
I hope you find something here that’ll help you out. THE POSITIVITY BLOG

1. It’s OK to feel frustrated (but know how to handle it so you don’t get stuck).

When things aren’t going your way then you sometimes get frustrated. That’s natural and OK. So instead of trying to push these emotions away accept and process them.

But also know how to not get stuck in them because then they’ll just suck a lot of energy and time from your week.
One thing that helps me to reduce that frustration so I can move forward once again is to stop my thoughts from bouncing around in the past or a possible future by reconnecting with this moment.

Two of my favorite ways for doing that are to:
Focus on my breathing. I sit down with closed eyes and then just focus on the air going in and out of my nose. I do that for 1-2 minutes while making sure that I take calm and slightly deep breathes than I usually do and I breathe with my belly (and not my chest).
Focus on what is around me for 1-2 minutes. The people going by out on the street. The slight draft from one of the windows. The warmth from the radiator. The snow slowly falling outside my window and the soft clothes on my skin. This brings my attention fully back to what is here right now.
By doing one of these things for just that tiny amount of time I calm down and it becomes easier to focus and to think clearly again. I then follow that up with the next habit in this article.

2. Tap into gratitude for the simplest of things.

This is usually my next step when I want to reduce frustration. But it works well on its own too when you feel like life sucks. Because during those times it’s easy to go from feeling sorry for yourself for a while into full on victim thinking that lasts for too long and drags you down. I find that zooming out a bit during these times helps.

So I ask myself: what are 3 simple things that I can still be grateful for having in my life?

A handful of answers that I tend tocome back to often are at least partly things that are basic for me but many out there in the world still don’t have access to. Like for example:
A roof over my head and a warm home.
Plenty of drinkable water. I don’t have to go hungry. The simple pleasures of life like a sunset or a relaxing walk in the woods. My family and friends.

3. Focus more on the small how-tos and less on the whys.

Processing what happened and what you feel is certainly important. But instead of taking the common route of dwelling on the whys of the negative situation 80% of the time and looking for solutions 20% of the time switch those numbers around. Spend more of your time on finding the small and practical steps you can take to make things better (even if it’s just a little better at this time). By doing so you’ll start to feel more confident and less suffocated and paralyzed as you are moving forward once again.

4. Reminder: This is temporary. And there is a brand new day tomorrow.

Just because this day or the last week didn’t go well doesn’t mean that there is not a brand new day tomorrow. A day when you can start fresh. With taking action to move towards what you want, likely having a bit more luck and when it will be easier to see that this difficult time is only temporary and not permanent (even if it might feel that way right now).

5. Ask yourself: What is going well in my life though?

It is very easy to get stuck in focusing on the negative things when you start thinking that life or your week or month isn’t going well. But don’t forget that there are still things that are going well in your life. It may be small things.
When I had several setbacks last year I asked myself this question and it helped me to open up my mind and to not get too focused on only the things that weren’t going so well. By opening my mind I could see that many vital things like my small business, my exercise habit and flossing habit were indeed going well and that several fun things had happened recently too.

6. Setbacks can be very valuable if I let them.

I know this may sound like a cliche. And when I’m having a tough time then it’s not what I usually like to hear. But at the same time I must admit that it’s often true. And it’s an important thing for me to reminder myself of because it reduces the pain I feel from a setback since I know that this shall pass and that I will usually get something good out of it in the end. Now, a common way of looking at failures, mistakes and obstacles on yourjourney is of course as something negative and as things that should be avoided. But trying to actively avoid them at any price usually leads to analysis paralysis and a lack of taking any significant action at all.
And the setbacks and mistakes in life can indeed be very helpful. If you let them. So before you start moving on from one of them ask yourself:
What is one thing I can learn from this situation?

How can I adjust my course to avoid this trap/making the same mistake and to likely do better the next time?
These questions have helped me to improve a lot about how I do things in life and to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.

7. Reminder: It’s OK to have a bad day.

Sometimes a bad day will just be a bad day. Even if you use a couple of the previous tips and strategies.
Because no matter what you do, life will never be perfect, awesome or peaceful all the time. It will still have natural valleys even if you adopt many new and positive habits .

And that’s OK.

But here’s the upside…

If you actually accept that this is howlife is from time to time – and you stop clinging to a dream of perfection – then your life will become lighter and simpler and you’ll be less stressed out and able to more constructively handle that bad day when it does show up on your doorstep.

8. Let it out.

Keeping things bottled up and not letting them out makes it – in my experience – easier to start making mountains out of molehills. And unbeatable nightmares out of things that do genuinely suck. So let what is weighing on you out. You can do it by:
Talking it over with someone close to you. Maybe you just need to vent and to figure things out for yourself as he or she listens. Or maybe the two of you can talk it through to ground the situation in reality. And to come up with the start of a plan for what you can do. Writing about it in a journal. Just letting your thoughts, worries and emotions out on paper or a computer screen can be a relief. And it can help you to start structuring things, to think things through and to start seeing possible solutions or small steps you can take.

9. Work it out.

When things are bad and you cannot think yourself out of the state of mind that it leads you to then take another route. Stop using your head and start usingyour body. Go for a walk in the wintery landscape.Play badminton or soccer with friends. Head to the gym and work out in someway. Will the situation perhaps still suck when you get back? Yes. But maybe less so than you first thought. Because now you have less inner tensions and renewed mental clarity and energy. I have found in my own life that this makes a huge difference to change my perspective and to start working myself out of a negative situation.

10. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

This thought helped me to hold onwhen things looked bleak for many months and to keep going when my social skills and dating life was just plain bad. It helped me to keep going when things looked like they would never pick up for my own small online business.
Why? Because I have found it to be true. When things seemed to be at the lowest point something always happened. Often because being at that low point forced me to change something in how I did things. But maybe also because life seems to have some kind of balance if I just keep going. If I keep taking action instead of giving up and doing nothing then something good always happens. Seeing this repeat itself year after year strengthened my belief in taking action and to keep going even on rough days or weeks. And it brings some comfort even when things look pretty dark.