Truths you need to know now to live purposefully and have a bright future

A building is only a solid as the materials used to build it.  There are plenty of web sites out there with the same goal as this one.  They provide blueprints for pretty "buildings," that is, well-meaning advice to help you build a better life.  So what makes Bright Outlook different? I try to base all of the life advice I give here on scientifically verified, tested, and proven information. I'm hoping you'll realize that most of what I say here is backed up by evidence.

I've been writing some very research-intensive articles on here lately so it's time for a lighter one.  I hope this one will brighten your outlook every bit as much as the others though.  As always I was searching for more information about how to have a bright future and I came upon the listicle Twenty-six Key Truths You Need to Know to Create a Bright Future.  Like, aims to help you find "ways to get past obstacles, deal with challenges, create new and lasting habits, learn how to trust yourself and your instincts – everything you need to know to get the life you want and deserve."  Well, except maybe the instincts part.To be honest when I looked at the rest of the site I discovered that it offers plenty of advice, but I found none of the science. Regardless of my feelings about the site in general, I agree with nearly every one of the 26 items put forward on this page. In my usual manner, I processed them by sorting them into categories and comparing them to what I already know.

This post will be very light on science but I hope you'll agree that it's heavy on wisdom.  Let's examine most of these 26 "truths," by category, and distill the wisdom we find. Some of these subjects I've already written about. The rest I plan to write about in the future. I'll start by summarizing the points made:

To have a bright outlook on life, we need to start with ourselves. How do I view myself? How can I be happy? What am I afraid of? How can I stay in control of my life? But no one who is focused only on himself can truly have a bright outlook. We also need to consider our relationships with others. This page addresses all of these questions. Let's consider them one at a time.

How do I view myself?

What happens in your life isn’t what bothers you, the thoughts you have about it cause the problem.

Our default mode seems to be to think negatively when things don't go as planned or expected. We need to approach life with a different mindset. I have much to say about this topic in a future article.

Don’t let lack of confidence stop you trying something new. Get more information, seek guidance and take a step forward and then another. With each step in the direction of your goal, your confidence will grow.

This reminds me of something I tweeted just this morning:

I think these ideas go well together.

Give up trying to control everything. Take control of the one thing that will make the greatest difference in your life…your mind.

Control your outlook, don't let outcomes control it.  Fertile soil for future articles.

If you spend most of your day feeling unhappy about all the things you haven’t yet accomplished you’re focusing on lack. Expect to get more of the same.

Focus on the positive. When we focus on a couple of positives instead of trying to think of many, we tend to feel happier. On the other hand, trying to think of many negatives and failing may have a similar effect. Again, lots of fodder for future discussion.  In the meantime you can read an article I'll be incorporating in the future.

If you habitually tell yourself I’m never on time, I always fail, I never get it right, I never have enough money, friends, or love you’d better understand this negative chatter will be manifested in your life. Replace this inner conversation with the opposite intention. I’m always on time, I’m confident I can do it, people love me, dollars want me…then be prepared for a world of opportunities to open up for you.

In other words, choose your identity instead of describing yourself in terms of what you already do. Especially if it's negative.  I touch on the role of identity and motivation briefly in this article but I'll be covering it a lot more in the future.

How can I be happy?

Don’t look for things outside yourself to fill a void.

This advice should be repeated more often.  We live in a world that bombards us with messages about how happy we'll be when we acquire some new possession or attain some new status.  This kind of happiness is always short-lived, and the expectation of happiness is the strongest emotion we'll likely ever experience.  By chasing intrinsic rewards instead of extrinsic ones we set ourselves up for greater long-term satisfaction.

If you’re feeling envious, stop.

Yes. There will always be others who have things we don't. There will always be others who wish they had what we do. How to win: be grateful. Decide what you want in life and enjoy those things. Let other people enjoy the rest. Why should I have everything all to myself? Shouldn't I enjoy seeing others enjoy life, even if they are enjoying different things than I am?  A contented person is a rich person.  But not all rich people are content.  Very few, in fact.

Don’t burden yourself with regret, resentment or being unforgiving.... Don’t allow others to define your life.

Forgive and move on, whether that means forgiving yourself or others. But by all means learn from what happened. If the hurtful incident or relationship didn't improve me in some way, then I should move away from it.  I've already written quite a bit on allowing others to define my life.

When you intend to be happy you’ll discover life offers you happiness in so many ways. Become aware and see.

I don't have much to add now, but I'll be building on this later.

What am I afraid of?

Be comfortable in not always knowing where you’re going. Adopt a growth attitude safe in the knowledge that though there may be dark times you’ll always come out on the other side. Likely a greater version of yourself.

Justin Bariso, who writes about emotional intelligence, wrote, “Mentally tough people know that to reach their full potential, they must get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  I've used that phrase for years, even imagining I made it up myself.  I like the above point.  When times are tough, don't be afraid of what will happen.  Instead, be afraid of what will happen if you let your comfort zone shrink.  There's no such thing as a static comfort zone.  Those who embrace challenge grow, while those who fear discomfort tend to be uncomfortable most of the time.

If you give the same amount of attention to your dreams as you do to your fears you’ll be way ahead in the game of life. Fears kill dreams.

In the future I'll be offering a time-tested technique for improving the dream/fear ratio.  In the meantime, remember that everything we do is either chasing the one or running away from the other.  Which would you prefer to spend most of your time doing?

If you don’t feel a little afraid then maybe the step you’re about to take isn’t worthy of you. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Make good decisions. Take risks. Try to figure out what you are afraid of. Taking a step in the direction of what you fear is a good way to start discovering what it is.

How can I stay in control of my life?

Accept that your life is what you’ve made it so far. If it’s not to your liking rise to the challenge and begin to make a new one.

This one goes right along with the one I listed just above it. But ask yourself why you want to change. Then when you have given adequate thought to the answer, put everything behind your decision.

To be successful you must decide what you want. Remember, you’re choosing the direction of your life. If you can’t decide on a lifetime purpose right now, start small, with what you want for the rest of the year.

Once again, I connect this one with the one above it.  Explore your values. Then explore what those values mean to you.

There’s little point in taking everything personally. The things that others say and do often has no bearing on you at all. Most likely they were focused on themselves. The way you react to what they do or say however, is all about you. Your reactions can change the course of events.

Again, a fantastic point. Two, in fact.  This topic deserves a series of articles, which I plan to write.  Like all of these, it is said so succinctly.

It isn’t the one off thing we do that leads to a great future; we get to where we want to go by what we do on a regular basis. Your habits hold the key to success.

Recent best-selling books often highlight this fact.  But it bears repeating.  There are no shortcuts to success.  Greatness means being good, consistently.

Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t allow outer distractions to hypnotise you, remain inner directed and true to your path.

The counterpoint to the one just above it (in the order I chose).  Choose the direction you want to go, make it a regular part of your life, and avoid distractions.  Lots of fodder for future articles.

Ninety-nine percent of failures are because someone accepted a temporary defeat as a failure.

I've often repeated the mantra that the road to success is paved with failures.  The Chinese say 失败是成功之母, failure is the mother of success.  When we fail, we feel like giving up.  Sometimes giving up is the right choice.  When you encounter failure ask yourself what you've learned. Have you truly learned that the main goal wasn't worthwhile?  Future posts will discuss the best way to go about this decision process.


Be kinder than necessary.

This can't be overemphasized.  The world would be a much better place if we all followed this rule.

Give the gift of imagination. A gift from your heart is to see someone as they would wish to be.

This is a beautiful expression.  It embodies so much in so few words.  Show empathy.  Put yourself in the other person's shoes.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  It may be the greatest gift anyone has given them.

Never underestimate the power of listening.

Again, this can't be emphasized too much.  Genuine listeners are very rare in the world.  A person who really listens and tries to understand is more valuable than the rarest gem.  Try to practice this, even if it means talking just a bit less.  Really be interested in what the other person is saying, what they are thinking and feeling.  Do you know someone who does this?  Then I don't need to tell you how valuable a skill it is.

Don’t put off the visit to your friends or family, make it now.

What are your values?  Do they include prioritizing your relationships?  If you want to have few regrets in the future this should be a high priority.  Easier said than done, but if you want to apply the Pareto principle to your outlook, here's the 20 percent that will give you 80 percent of the results.

Step away from the things that divide. No matter the country of origin or ethnicity or beliefs, everyone wants the same basic things: to live a happy fulfilled life with a promising future. Try to look beyond the obvious.

What would our world look like right now if everyone was trying to do this?

I suppose I could have brightened your day with just a link to this inspiring list of "truths."  But my goal is to do more than brighten your day.  I want to brighten your life, to share the tools that I'm learning to use in order for both you and me to have a bright outlook.  My goal is to continue building on this foundation.  I believe there are quite a few valuable stones here we can both use for this.