You’ve seen the articles: “12 Things All Successful People Do,” “18 Epic Productivity Apps to Help You Live Your Dream,” “12 Rules For Learning Foreign Languages in Record Time.” My favorite is “32 Things to Remember in an Interview.” Really?! Thirty-two things to remember during a high-pressure interview when you can hardly remember your full name? Who can remember thirty-two things?
Or how about this one: “12 Things Extremely Successful People Do Before Breakfast.” This is a great article, and doing these things every day will undoubtedly make you extremely successful. It will also mean you’ll never eat breakfast until 1:00 p.m.
It seems that recently there has been a proliferation of lists, and that the lists keep getting longer. I understand this predilection for lists – they are simple and memorable. They have been popular ever since Moses came down from Sinai with a list of ten do’s and don’ts. Steven Covey made a fortune with Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. But just because a seven point list made Covey wealthy and a ten point list governed Israel for millennia doesn’t mean that twelve, eighteen, or thirty-two point lists are better still. In fact, for my simple mind, shorter is almost always better. I don’t want eighteen epic productivity apps – I couldn’t remember which app is for which purpose. I want three apps, no more. I can do three things before breakfast without even checking a list, and I can still have breakfast during the breakfast hour. And when I walk into that all-important, destiny-changing interview, please don’t ask me to remember more than one or two things! Give me Thoreau – simplify, simplify, simplify. All the really important lists in life are short. Short enough to remember without referring to your notes.
So in the interest of keeping it simple, here is my ultimate guide to life: “3 Things That Will Guarantee Life-Long Happiness.”
1. Eat Well
We are what we eat, quite literally. Proper nutrition is the foundation of good health, and good health is one of the great blessings of life. Eat real food. You know what I mean – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, some poultry, fish, an occasional steak. Real food doesn’t come in boxes or in microwaveable packages. Skip the added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, highly refined foods. Stick with the real thing. Eat real food. Eat well.
2. Sleep Well
Forget the nonsense about getting more done by sleeping only four hours a night. Forget the all-nighters. Go to bed early and get up early. Follow a regular and consistent sleeping schedule. Work hard, go to bed tired, and sleep. Do whatever it takes every to go to sleep with a clear conscience, a tired body, and sense of accomplishment. Sleep well.
3. Love Well
No one is happy alone. Our greatest joy in life comes from relationships. Family is everything. Friends are essential. Nurture relationships, make them a priority. Serve others and you will grow to love them, and real happiness comes from loving others. Whatever else you must do during the day, find ways to serve others and nurture your relationship with family and friends. Love well.
That’s it. Eat well, sleep well, love well. You know that exercising every day will help you sleep well, you know that those French fries aren’t good for you, and you know you need to spend not just quality time but quantity time with your family. Forget the lists of twelve, eighteen, and thirty-two essential things to do every day. Just repeat the mantra: eat well, sleep well, love well. Everything else will follow naturally.