10 Rules To Live By For A Happier, Fuller Life

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated May 4, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Day-to-day life can be challenging for just about everyone. Between work, school, family, friends, relationships, and an onslaught of concerning world and national news, it can be hard to know if you are focusing on the right things. It is not uncommon to feel like you are simply surviving, rather than living life to the fullest

While there may not be a rule book that tells us how to live a good life, there can be tangible steps to take toward self-improvement that could be helpful in making your life happier and fuller. Here, you’ll find 10 evidence-based tips for deriving more meaning and fulfillment from your life.

Therapy can help you define your goals and build healthier habits.

10 “rules” for health and life fulfillment

When exploring self-improvement methods, many resources tend to focus on abstract concepts rather than actionable items. While different things may work for different people, it can be helpful to try a handful of self-improvement actions to find what works for you. Consider trying your hand at these 10 suggestions. 

1. Prioritize physical activity, good nutrition, and exposure to nature

Studies show that maintaining a consistent level of physical activity and exposure to nature can relieve symptoms of clinical depression.

Additionally, research has found that a balanced, nutritious diet is linked to mental well-being. Incorporating more physical activity and healthier foods into your day-to-day life does not have to be done perfectly to lead to positive results. For example, simply adding more fruits and vegetables to your current diet can be a positive step towards better eating habits.

2. Implement the “Two-Minute Rule”

“If it takes less than two minutes, do it now.” This strategy, coined by author and productivity consultant David Allen, encourages  completing small tasks immediately as they come up to prevent them from taking up space in your mind. 

For example, if you receive a bill in the mail, paying it immediately can help keep it off your to-do list. The two-minute rule can be helpful in decluttering your mind and improving productivity. 

3. Make your space clean and comfortable

You may have heard people refer to the act of “making your bedroom your sanctuary.” This rule can apply to any space in which you spend the bulk of your time at home, whether it be your living room, home office, or bedroom. A clean, comfortable space tends to make us more productive and happier overall. 

Taking the time to declutter and organize your space can be a great first step. If you have trouble letting objects go, it can be helpful to take a photo before getting rid of the item. It may also be worth maintaining a weekly or monthly cleaning schedule, as this can help you maintain a clean environment.

4. Write down your thoughts and feelings more frequently

Journaling or simply writing down the happenings of your daily life can be a helpful way to release pent-up emotions and track your general mood and progress. In fact, some studies have found that journaling can lead to measurable improvements in mental wellbeing.

There are a number of ways to journal, and you can create yours in any way you like. Freewriting, or stream-of-conscious writing, typically consists of writing or typing everything that comes to mind. This method can be helpful in uncovering deep-seated worries, fears, or insecurities.

Journaling prompts can be another helpful method. Journal prompts might be things like “What are three things you are grateful for today and why?” or “Describe a challenge you faced recently and how you overcame it.”

Getty/Jessie Casson

5. Participate in hobbies and activities you enjoy

Having hobbies or activities that take you out of the daily grind can be important for emotional well-being. While our modern society tends to emphasize constant productivity, a person’s quality of life can be severely lowered without the presence of fun.
Taking time to do things you enjoy, whether it be sports, video games, music, or art, can be vital when it comes to feeling happy and fulfilled.

6. Build and maintain a support system

Studies have shown that, just like many animals, humans are inherently social creatures. Building and maintaining supportive relationships with people you enjoy being around can help you feel more fulfilled.

Though social media seems to have opened endless opportunities to socialize, many Americans report feeling lonelier than ever before. Spending time with friends or loved ones in person can be instrumental for self-improvement and fulfillment. Even a phone call can serve as a fantastic way to connect.

7. Take the time to learn about yourself

Sometimes, we may find ourselves facing challenges we cannot even seem to define. To enhance self-growth and personal development, it may be helpful to take the time to reflect and learn about yourself. There are a number of ways to expand your sense of self, including:

  • Self-help or psychology books

  • Mental health or personality inventories

  • Journaling or daily reflection

  • Therapy with a licensed mental health professional

8. Try morning meditation or positive affirmations

The Dalai Lama was quoted as saying, “Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” For many, this has proven to be true. Starting your day with a five-minute meditation or a positive affirmation as simple as “I am going to have a good day” may set you off on the right foot toward a better life.

9. Give yourself time to rest and relax

Chronic stress can be damaging to health and leave you feeling exhausted or burnt out. Giving yourself the room to change and grow at your own speed can lead to higher quality and more lasting improvements in the long run. If you are someone who tends to put a lot on their plate, consider scheduling a certain amount of time each day to dedicate to relaxing in whatever way you prefer.

10. Attend regular therapy 

No matter who you are from or where you come from, it is perfectly normal to face periods of difficulty in life. Even outside of tough situations, a journey toward self-improvement can often be benefited by professional guidance.

Reaching out to a therapist or counselor can be a great place to begin your own personal journey toward self-improvement and help you find a set of life rules that work best for you.

Therapy can help you define your goals and build healthier habits.

Benefits of online therapy

While there may be many tangible steps you can take toward improving your life overall, help from a therapist can serve as a powerful tool for just about anyone. However, it’s often challenging to find an in-person therapist who is taking on new clients and who can work with your schedule. If you’re having trouble finding a mental health professional in your local area, online therapy can serve as a more convenient and time-saving method of working with a therapist.  Plus, you can attend sessions from the comfort of home, and there is often a wider variety of available session times than there typically are at a therapist’s physical office.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Having a licensed professional to whom to report self-improvement progress on a weekly or bi-weekly basis can be extremely helpful in keeping an individual on track with a variety of goals. Online therapy is often a cost-effective option, making payment easy and removing a barrier to living life to the fullest, potentially resulting in a healthier and happier life. Additionally, research shows that online therapy can be equally as effective as in-person therapy in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Takeaway

When embarking on a journey of self-improvement, it can be important to remember that different methods work for different people. Learning about yourself, building a strong support system, and practicing meditation or affirmations can be helpful. While the aforementioned rules to live by have helped many, a therapist can often help you find exactly what you need to work toward for a happier, fulfilled life.
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