7 Shameless Rules That Have Drastically Bettered My Life

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Smiling woman

“If you hesitate to learn from others, you will never learn anything new.”
― Raaz Ojha

Three years ago, I sat in a grey cubicle with coworkers whose facial expressions showed the same mixture of boredom, fatigue, and agony as mine.

Today, I woke up to chirping birds and chuckling geckos, watching the sun rise over lush green trees. I’m excited about my work, a midday stroll on the beach, and a colorful dinner prepared by my favorite chef. I live in the paradise others go to for vacation — and there’s no boss telling me when to be back.

This isn’t a metaphorical d*ck-measuring contest. I’m not saying look how big mine is. I’m merely showing you what’s possible if you play by the right rules instead of the ones imposed on you.

We all operate on scripts. It’s how society functions. Get an education, work hard, buy nice things to be happy, don’t take drugs, and don’t pee in your neighbor’s backyard. But most people never make it to the promised land.

They get stuck in a job they hate, pay taxes to a government that exploits them, fight in a frustrating marriage, and give up on their childhood dreams. They spend their hard-earned cash on distractions from their misery, then go back to another day, another dollar.

Be honest with yourself for a second: What has playing by the rules everyone else plays by given you? At best, a mediocre life — not too shabby, but also nothing you’ll look back at and say “I don’t regret a single thing.”

I’ve been there. But at one point, I decided to play by my own rules, creating a life that exceeded even my wildest dreams. Feel free to steal them.

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Here are 7 shameless rules that have drastically bettered my life:

1. No more band-aid solutions

A friend of mine wanted to buy a villa on the same island I’m on. His first viewing was perfect — except for an umbrella-sized, multicolored mold stain on the kitchen wall. When he asked the seller to fix it, their answer was as simple as it was baffling. “Yes, we paint!” 

Nobody in their right mind would buy such a villa — yet, that’s exactly what most people do with their lives.

Gaining weight? Diet for a few weeks.

Fed up with your job? Take a vacation or numb your senses with Netflix, online shopping, and alcohol.

Your partner left you? Hop on Tinder or fall right into the arms of the next person until the relationship explodes again, sending shrapnel of broken dishes right through your heart.

Quick fixes are the Trojan Horse of your life.

They provide quick relief but it’s like taking Tylenol for your headaches while denying the golf ball-sized brain tumor causing it.

I’ve been guilty of all the above. But a few years ago, I committed to rooting out the problems instead of treating symptoms. I built healthier eating habits. Learned new skills until I could eventually run my own business. Dove deep into my childhood trauma. It was painful but less so than hitting the same walls again and again.

If you want to improve your life for good, you have to get to the roots instead of putting band-aids on symptoms.

2. Practice the one thing that will truly change how you feel

If there’s one thing we learned from the last two years of a global pandemic, it’s how much we took for granted.

Freedom. Prosperity. Health. Connection. Spontaneous gatherings. Visiting friends and family. Going out and seeing smiling faces instead of anxious eyes peaking over clinical masks. All this is a great opportunity to learn the most important lesson of all:


Every day, I make a conscious effort of appreciating the small things — and if big ones happen, that’s even more reason to celebrate.

It might feel silly to wake up and be grateful that you can breathe, that you’ve got running water, or that you can enjoy a beer with a friend. But do it regularly for a week. Find the small things, enjoy them consciously, and be grateful. See how that makes you feel.

My life has literally turned upside down — from focusing on what I lack to appreciating what I have. The pandemic has brought me this gift and I swear I will cherish it until the day I take my last breath.

Don’t take your life for granted — if you want to feel better every day, be grateful for the small stuff.

3. It’s either hell yes or hell no

For the first time in the history of humanity, we live in a world of extreme abundance and over-choice.

The question isn’t if you’re going to eat, it’s what you’ll put between your jaws.

The question isn’t if you’re going to date, it’s whom of your Tinder matches you’ll seduce.

The question isn’t if you have Netflix, it’s which show you’ll binge on.

Many opportunities are a blessing, too many are a problem. If you were a dirt-poor peasant in the medieval ages, you were well-advised to take any chance you could, even if it was scraping sh*t off your lord’s boots while he took your wife on a day trip to pound town. Today, this mindset costs you dearly.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

— Warren Buffett

Over the last three years, I’ve had more opportunities than I can count.

Podcasts. Collaboration requests. Features for my articles. The guy who asked me to do a live interview giving tips for sugar daddies. I still don’t know how that one got into my inbox, but the universe is a mysterious place.

If I had said yes to every opportunity that sounded remotely promising, I probably would’ve slept a total of ten hours over the last two years. I also would’ve achieved a lot less and burned out like my butt from last night’s chili.

Even worse, I couldn’t have given the people and things that matter the attention they deserve.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. You have limited time and energy. If you can’t say Hell yeah to an opportunity, it’s not worth it, whether it’s a relationship, a job, or people.

Saying yes to one thing means saying no to a lot of others.

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4. Small achievements, big celebrations

Every day, I make myself look like an idiot.

I dance up and down in my apartment. My arms and legs swing around like a ragdoll whose seatbelt came loose in a rollover, but I don’t care. I’ve worked hard, I’ve made progress, and I’m going to celebrate it no matter what my neighbors think.

I don’t know you, but I know you don’t celebrate yourself enough. 99% of people are so focused on their future goals and comparison with others that they forget how far they’ve already come. Today’s society is so obsessed with hyper-achieving that anything not involving a 100k product launch or banging 16 catwalk models at once doesn’t seem worth celebrating.

Be nice to yourself. Whether you’ve gone for a short run, read for ten minutes, or shared something intimate with your partner. Celebrate that sh*t.

Do you know what’s going to happen when you do that? Positive reinforcement. You teach your brain that even small achievements are worth going after and building momentum.

Dance. Get a massage. Drink your favorite tea. Tell yourself that you did well. Listen to that song that makes your heart skip a beat.

Whatever you do, celebrate your accomplishments — you’ve earned them.

5. Heal from your past or you’ll get stuck in it

I’m a tough guy, but there’s one thing that makes me cry like a baby.

Whenever I watch a video of someone taking in a homeless, malnourished dog, an invisible Ninja starts cutting onions right beside me. There’s something about seeing a traumatized creature go from scared sh*tless to trusting and loving. Maybe because I realize I am that dog — and you are too.

Life sometimes hits harder than a well-placed Mike Tyson uppercut. Your partner cheats. Your best friends betray you. Your mother gets cancer. Don’t even get me started on the childhood trauma we all carry. Your mind creates defense mechanisms to make sure you won’t get hurt again — just like the dog that growls when you try to pet it.

But biting the hand that feeds you is a surefire way to make your life miserable.

I’ve ruined many good relationships, entered a few toxic ones, and almost ran my business into the ground all due to past trauma. At one point, I had enough. Instead of being the victim of past events, I decided to process them and heal the wounds — and you can, too.

I’ll be brutally honest with you. It’s going to be hard, uncomfortable, and messy. You’ll have to dive deep into the trenches of your past and subconscious, fighting more than a few deep-sea monsters lurking in the dark. But when you come back up for air, it’s like you’ve never breathed before.

You’ll feel truly free and at peace for the first time in your life.

Stop holding yourself back. Take control and heal your wounds. If a homeless dog can, you can do it, too.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

— C.S. Lewis

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6. Whatever you do, do it again tomorrow

Dashrath Manjhi, dubbed the Mountain Man of India, has earned himself a national postage stamp through an almost unimaginable feat.

After his wife died because he couldn’t get her to the nearest hospital in time, he decided to shorten the distance from his village to the next one. Over 22 years, he carved a 110m long, 9m wide, and almost 8m deep path out of solid rock — using nothing but a hammer and a chisel.

The lesson is simple:

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

— Bill Gates

Whether you want to have a great relationship, achieve financial freedom, or turn the wobbly belly fat into chiseled abs — if you stay consistent, nobody can stop you.

Anything I’ve ever built is a result of the right habits. Don’t get overwhelmed by looking at the mountain of work that’s still in front of you. Take it one day at a time, day after day, every day.

Consistency isn’t sexy, but it has one distinct advantage: It works.

7. Others’ expectations are not yours to fulfill

Most people walk through life so focused on finding ways to please others that they lose themselves.

What makes you tick is different from what makes my happy hormones fire like Gatlin guns. Some people enjoy saving for their picket-fence house and having kids in their early 20s. Others want to travel the world and dance on the beach when the acid kicks in. I’m the latter.

Whatever it is that makes you happy — don’t let your fear of being judged keep you from going after it.

Evolutionally speaking, our brains are still in the stone age. When someone gives you a weird look for acting out of line, your primal response is to fear rejection from the tribe. But what was a death sentence once is a minor inconvenience at most today.

Sometimes when I’m grocery shopping, I start singing and dancing for no reason. I look people in the eyes and make faces. I say weird things out loud until heads turn. “There is cheese on my shoe!”

Pushing past my comfort zone in this way has taught me three important lessons:

  1. Most people are too busy with their own lives to care.
  2. Even if someone gives you weird looks, you won’t die or get broadcasted on national TV.
  3. If you’re a good person, the right people will like you for who you are, no matter how weird or out of line. Take off your mask.

Whatever job, lifestyle, partner, relationship, or future you choose for yourself, someone will always sniff at it. I’ve quit a prestigious Master’s program to become a self-employed digital nomad. To others, it was madness — to me, it was the right thing to do.

Stop worrying about society’s opinions. Go after what you want and risk looking like a fool to others. If it makes you happy, it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else.

These rules will help you drastically better your life.

  • No more band-aid solutions — solve problems instead of treating symptoms.
  • Be grateful — it’s the one thing that will truly change how you feel about your life.
  • Say hell yes or fuck no — you have too many options to waste time on the lukewarm ones.
  • Celebrate even your smallest achievements — you’ll build momentum to tackle the big ones.
  • Heal from your past — you can’t paint a beautiful life on a dirty canvas.
  • Stay consistent — you can’t change your life overnight.
  • Stop worrying about others’ expectations — it’s your life, so do what makes you happy.

Now you know the rules, so step up your game.

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”

— Confucius

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Moreno Zugaro is a copywriter who is focused on dating and self-improvement advice for men. He has been featured in The Good Men Project, Primer Magazine, The Coach, and more. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.