I'm on my 55th orbit of the sun. About 10 years ago I started identifying stuff that makes me a happier person. Over the years I've fine-tuned my list of reminders as I figure out what works best for me. This year's list has 12 reminders for living a good life:
  1. 1.
    Life is short.
    Remember this. And remember it gets shorter every day. Use this knowledge to empower your life.
  2. 2.
    Live healthy.
    I don't say eat perfectly, and I don't care about weight. I aim to live more healthily because see No. 1: life is short, and I want to live as long as I can. 'All things in moderation' applies here. Enjoy food and beer and stuff, but consider eating some fruit once in awhile. Pace yourself. Get some exercise every day. Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk a bit. Ride a bike.
  3. 3.
    Be kind.
    Kindness is perhaps the greatest gift we can give ourselves and other people, particularly our friends and family, and all children, and those people at coffee shops and restaurants and grocery stores and the DMV we come across who are clearly having a worse day than we are having. Forgive yourself, too, for anything you want.
  4. 4.
    "Talk less, smile more." Step away from the electronic device when talking to people, especially partners, spouses, aging parents and, most of all, children. Ask people questions and listen to what they say. Then ask more questions.
  5. 5.
    Pay attention.
    Amazing things are happening all around you. See also No. 1: Life is short.
  6. 6.
    Appreciate moments.
    Take the time and effort to acknowledge when something fun or awesome or amazing or ordinary or odd makes you happy. People watch! Watch yourself enjoying a night with friends or watching a great movie or enjoying a meal or seeing something happening around you. Note it. Remember it. Appreciate it. List it!
  7. 7.
    Make your own fun.
    Don't wait for others. It's your life. Travel. Go to the movies. Play board games with friends. Ask that crush to meet you for coffee. Whatever it is that you find to be fun, do it. Go by yourself: it's OK! Give yourself permission to do it (if you need to) and then go do it. See No 1: Life is short.
  8. 8.
    Go places.
    Travel is an amazing way to enjoy life. And you don't need to cross an ocean or a county (Altho' that is awesome, too!) Local day trips are the best. Even a half hour lunch break walking around a park or store you've never visited counts. Visiting museums and galleries and theaters and parks and mountains and trails and restaurants and malls and dance clubs and the ocean or the farmland or whatever is always always worth it. Always.
  9. 9.
    Do stuff.
    In my experience, doing stuff is always better than not doing stuff. Say yes. My only regrets in life are about things I didn't do. And as dumb as this one might be, it stays on my personal philosophy list because I always have lists of things I want to or learn or experience and sometimes I as a lazy introvert have to be reminded that I like to do stuff. Because see No. 1.
  10. 10.
    Make things.
    Pies. Jokes. Cookies. Lists. Music. Life easier for others. Paintings. A garden. Poems. Peace on earth. Knitted hats. Novels. Relationships. Laughter. Art. Whatever it is, make stuff. Use your hands and your imagination and your heart. It'll make you happier (says me).
  11. 11.
    Create something of value. Happiness counts.
    This is mostly a note to myself because my day job can be routine and sometimes feel pointless or monotonous and I need to remind myself that I should strive to not just punch the clock with my life because see No. 1: Life is short. Happiness counts as something to be valued.
  12. 12.
    The journey is the reward.
    Getting there is all the fun. It's better to travel than arrive. Life is a journey, not a destination. I've taken these cliches to heart as the short answer to my purpose/meaning of life. I'm not living for some promised reward of heaven or Valhalla after I'm dead, because I'll be dead. I'd rather live in the moment, appreciate my limited time here on earth and do things that make me happy. That makes me an adult.
  13. 13.
    To recap.