On Quora, the social question-and-answer site, a 23-year-old student asked: "What can people start doing now that will help them a lot in five years?" Hundreds of answers poured in, and this one by Quora contributor Andy Giroux was one of our favorites. You can contribute your own answers to this and other questions; we'll feature the best on HuffPost.
By Andy Giroux
1. Exercise. And if you can, exercise in the morning. This helps in so many ways. It will help you sleep better at night and be more alert during the day. It will help wake you up in the morning by getting your blood flowing. It will help to sharpen and focus your mind. It will help relieve stress. There are just so many benefits.
2. Don't say "I'll do it tomorrow" or "I don't have time." Tomorrow tends to be the imaginary land that never arrives, and 95-99% of the time when people say "I'll do it tomorrow" or "I don't have time" it really means "I'd rather just be lazy."
3. Don't make excuses. Just do it. If there is something that you want to do, whether it is just something that you think would be fun, a new experience, or something to better yourself then do it. This sort of goes with point #2. If you're making excuses then all that means is your really don't want it that badly.
4. Read books. Get off the internet. Stop reading pointless 3 paragraph articles and read something substantial. It will help expand your vocabulary, it will open your mind, it will inspire real thinking and creativity, and more.
5. Make sure you understand your credit score.
6. Save money. Be aggressive about it. In the next 5-10 years, you'll probably be extremely happy that you did so.
7. Don't hold grudges. Do not harbor hate. It takes a lot of energy to be mad at people so don't bother. Just let things go. And if someone continues to inspire these bad feelings in you, then let them go. It's that simple.
8. Laugh and smile. Always. Having a bad day? First, Smile. A big one. Ear to ear. Force it. Smiling doesn't just happen when you are happy, but it always happens to make you happier. It's scientifically proven. Then go to YouTube (I know earlier I said get off the internet, but laughter is a necessity.), look up a funny video or your favorite comedian and just laugh. Just let go. It'll help.
9. Stop and smell the roses. It's good to want to better yourself, but you also need to know when to take time for yourself and relax. Let your batteries recharge.
10. Be thankful and grateful. Sometimes it can be hard in the moment to realize that you actually have it pretty good, but every now and then just stop and think about everything that you have in your life. There is always someone who has it worse so you should be happy that you have what you have. It's also good to want to be better and to not just accept things for what they are, to challenge the status quo, but at the same time if you are always surging forward and you never stop to appreciate what and who is around you then one day when you finally do stop, you may realize there's nothing left.
11. Be charitable. Not just with your money or your time, but with who you are. Being charitable isn't just about giving when it makes sense, it's about being the type of person who will go out of their way to help the old woman cross a slippery, snow covered street. It's about tipping the waitress even when she was bitchy because maybe she's just having a really bad day. It's about smiling at that person across from you on the bus who looks upset, maybe even ask them if they need to talk. It's about giving that kid who won't stop asking for a job a chance even though their resume doesn't look that great.
12. Be selfish. Sometimes. This may sound contradictory, but hear me out. Sometimes you just need to ignore everyone else, and step away from the world for you. Go on that ski trip. Get yourself those shoes. That might sound vain, but you know what, if you don't have a healthy mind and a healthy body then how will you help others to do so?
13. Keep your phone in your pocket when with friends and family. Enjoy your time with them. You can always use technology, you won't always have time with your loved ones.
14. Don't be shy. Talk to people. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with strangers. What's the worst that will happen? They'll ignore you? Be rude? So what? You don't ever have to talk to them again. Not only will this teach you not to be afraid of rejection, but it will teach you how to network, be personable, read people, and maybe meet some really great people.
15. Listen. When someone is talking to you, LISTEN. Don't just think about what you are going to say, but really listen to what they are saying. Then when they are done you can take a second to think about what you want to say.
16. Be yourself, but don't be an A-Hole. Never be afraid to be who you are. Don't worry about other people's BS opinion of you. Enjoy life and yourself. If people don't like you for who you are then you don't need them in your life. Simple as that. At the same time, if everyone you meet seems to think you're an A-Hole, maybe you should take a step back and re-evaluate yourself.
17. Travel. If you can, travel. It's a great thing to do. It can open you up to so many things that you will never experience in your own little corner of the world. Whether that be lifestyles and culture you could never have imagined, seeing nature in a new light, or giving you the shocking realization that there is something horribly wrong with the balance of power and wealth in this world. Traveling can lead to some great introspection and thought provoking experiences.
18. Be open minded. You don't know it all. You never will. You also couldn't possibly understand everything so be aware of that.
19. Love like a puppy. Don't be afraid to let others in. Love unconditionally. If your heart gets broken, it will heal, and you will learn. But do not let it close you. At the same time, make sure that just because you love so openly that you don't let others walk all over you. You can leave someone behind who treats you wrong, but still have a strong love for them. A lot of us have experienced that.
20. Ask why and be curious. Why is one of the single most powerful words we have as humans. It can open so many doors and lead to so much knowledge. Next time someone tells you something, instead of just accepting it, ask why. Dig deeper. Learn.
21. Follow your passions and your dreams. Do what you love and what you enjoy. Don't settle. Not for a job. Not for a spouse. Not for anything. If you believe that you are capable of more, then go for it, but don't forget to keep at least 1 toe on the ground so that you don't lose everything great that you may already have.
22. Be a child. This is a culmination of many of the previous pieces of advice. Being a child means to love like a puppy. You open your arms with a blissful ignorance. You travel wherever you go, looking at things with a curiosity unmatched by any adult. You see things in a creative light and let your imagination run wild. When you're in a taxi, you're not just on your way to work avoiding traffic, you're avoiding the bad guys and on a mission to save the world. You don't judge. You don't assume. You just accept. You listen and you learn, so intensely that others may assume you had no idea they were talking to you, but one day you'll repeat what they said and surprise them. You ask why because you want to truly understand. You are yourself because you haven't yet learned how to be anything but yourself, but at the same time your imagination will allow you to be and do anything you can dream. As a child, you are often selfish, but at the same time often so surprisingly giving because you don't like to see others sad. You laugh and smile often because there's not much else that feels better than that. You save your money, your pennies and your quarters go into the piggy jar because one day, you know you'll buy something big. Each day is new and exciting. You don't make excuses for not doing something because you don't have any, when there is something you want to do, something you dream of, you go for it because you haven't been told you can't. You don't understand that others might believe it's impossible. You just be the best version of yourself because that is how life should be.
Now, I understand some may read all this and think, "Wow, this A-Hole lives in a fantasy land." And you're right. I do. Those who know me can attest, I believe I'm capable of anything. I hate to fail because I think I shouldn't.
Some people think I'm too cocky, but that's not exactly it. It's that I believe there can be more. I believe very strongly in the quote "He who says he can, and he who says he can't are both usually right."
I actively try to live as I have mentioned above, and while it may be overly optimistic and sugar coated, I understand that life can be hard, but it doesn't mean that you have to let it bring you down. Those people who you read about, those people who live on past their death through their legacies, those people, they believed in more. They believed that they could be more. They didn't believe in giving up. They weren't afraid to fail because all they could see was themselves past the finish line in a future where the world was a better place or where they reached their goal, and the only reason anyone else can't be like that... is because they are holding themselves back.
If you're not happy with your life. If you're not happy with where you're at. Then make a change. You can do it. You just need to believe.
I read a quote that went something like:
"If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right."
It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself:
"If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?"
And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
— Steve Jobs
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