10 Tips for a Prosperous Life

Nick Offerman’s Netflix comedy special, American Ham, is fantastic.

In it, Offerman organizes his act around what he calls 10 Tips for a Prosperous Life. While the act is hilarious, it’s also insightful. Each of Offerman’s “tips” clearly bring him joy and fulfillment.

I think everybody should have guidelines like this for their own lives. This got me thinking about what mine should be. Here’s my first crack at a list:

  1. Have a Growth Mindset – It’s important to have high self-esteem. But that doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Try to get better every single day.
  2. Master a Craft, and Practice it Regularly – Find a challenging, meaningful activity that fulfills you and do it regularly, whether at work or in your free time.
  3. Nurture Close Friendships – Close friends are there for you when things go wrong. Casual friends? Not so much. Take the time and effort to develop close friendships. And no, your spouse or significant other doesn’t count.
  4. Strengthen Your Willpower – Willpower, self-discipline, grit. Whatever you call it, the ability to do things that are hard, even when you don’t want to, is critical. The good news is that willpower is a muscle. You can strengthen it by practicing. Do so.
  5. Focus on Habits – Unconscious habits drive about 40% of what we do every day. Some of those habits are positive—you don’t think about brushing your teeth before bed, you just do it—but some are negative. More importantly, if you have to actively think about doing things that are good for you or avoiding things that are bad for you, it’s far more likely you’ll make the wrong decision (see #4). Learn how to build the habits you want and eliminate those you don’t.
  6. Be Direct, but Kind – Say what you think. Speak truth to power. Be candid. But learn how to do it with kindness. Aggressive and passive-aggressive are extremes that both get you into trouble.
  7. Admit When You’re Wrong – If you’re like me, this happens frequently. Admit it, apologize, and move on.
  8. Don’t Tolerate Abusive Behavior – Abuse can come in many different forms. Whether it’s verbal abuse from a family member, a boss intimidating a coworker, or something worse, you shouldn’t put up with it.  Stand up for yourself and for others.
  9. Get out of Dodge – Nearly every country in the world takes more time off than we do, and many of them are far more productive. Take frequent vacations. They’re good for you.
  10. Have Fun – Laugh. Drink a cocktail. Crank up the music. Make time every day for having fun.