6 Tiny Principles That Will Drastically Improve Your Life

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

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Principles are basic ideas of how things work — think of them like rules for life. A clear set of principles serves as a guide for how to behave in various situations.

For example, if you’re in the streets and get caught committing a crime with a group of friends or you’re a victim, you’re not supposed to cooperate with the law. But those kinds of principles are nonsense. It’s better to adopt principles that make you a better person.


The great thing about this is you don’t have to come up with them by yourself. According to the National Geographic Society, the earth is estimated to be 4.54 billion years old, plus or minus about 50 million years. The modern form of humans is believed to have evolved around 200,000 years ago. Many people have existed before you and I and there are many lessons we can learn from their lives to help us thrive today. 

RELATED: 30 Small Habits That Quickly Bring A Massive Improvement To Your Life

Here are 6 tiny principles that will drastically improve your life:

1. Don’t try to prove yourself to others

“If anyone tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, don’t make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: ‘He does not know my other faults; else, he would not have mentioned only these.’” — Epictetus

In the latest episode of YouTube Beef, two online journalist friends who made a name serving their communities by exposing sham digital scams had a bit of a public hiccup. Coffezilla, one of the journalists, exposed a guy around two years ago for being a fake trader. The alleged fake trader recently released a video on his channel with Spencer Cornelia, the other journalist.


This video came across as if Spencer was rubbishing Coffeezilla’s claims without suitable grounds. For example, Spencer didn’t ask the guy any challenging questions. He just took all the evidence the trader showed at face value and verified him as legit. In Coffeezilla’s response video, he said Spencer’s journalism was extremely poor in many words. This ruined the credibility of Spencer’s channel, so Spencer also did a response video. In his video, one of the first things he said was that he appreciates Coffeezilla’s feedback. He also agreed that his in-person journalism needs some work, and he’s considering whether it's a segment he wants to keep on his channel. This instantly restored his credibility. Many people in the comments applauded him:

“This is the most gracious, humble, thoughtful, smart mea culpa I have ever heard. I had a feeling while watching Coffeezilla’s video that you would respond and it would be good, but you have exceeded my expectations and already high esteem of you. Thank you, good luck, good skill, and hyped to watch your next video” — @SleepySuperhero

“Say what you want about Spence, but the man takes accountability like an OG.” — @Najobajo

“This is probably the best apology video on the internet. Most creators try to defend their bs in their ‘apology’ and I don’t think Spencer made any excuses for his mistakes.” — @collectorsforecast1132

Spencer could’ve turned around and said anything in response to Coffeezilla. Most people in Spencer’s shoes would’ve defended their stance and tried to prove themselves right. After all, the kid showed him live trades in the green, and Spencer spoke to many of his students who had heaps of praise for the alleged fake trade. But Spencer took the critique on the chin. He didn’t try to defend his actions or prove his point. He accepted the critique gracefully.

Weak people try to hide their flaws and show off their strengths. Wise people own their flaws and allow others to boast of their strengths. Don’t try to prove yourself to others. If someone you love or look up to is ripping into your character or actions, take it on the chin. Learn from their words. You’ll be better as a result.




RELATED: 10 Characteristics Of Fiercely Private People Who Don't Need To Prove Themselves To Everyone Around Them

2. Never complain

“Don’t be overheard complaining, not even to yourself.” — Marcus Aurelius

Complaining is the easiest and most ineffective solution to any problem. Anyone can complain.


For example, the other day, I went to my local shop to buy some plantain chips. Quite a few people were there, and the worker was overwhelmed. One of the customers started complaining, “Can you hurry up? I’ve got places to go.” The worker ignored her at first, but the lady said it again. That’s when the worker responded, “Do you think you’re the only one who has places to go?” It then led to a full-out confrontation that delayed things further.

That’s when I saw a kid copying out a number displayed on the counter and then walking out, seemingly without paying. When the kid got near me, I quietly asked, “Did you just pay with that thing?” “Yeah, it’s mobile money,” he replied. I vacated my spot in the queue and followed suit. All the while, the lady and the worker were still going back and forth. When I completed my payment, the lady gave up the items she wanted to buy and left the store. By then, everyone had moved on to pay using Momo — she was practically at the front of the queue.

Complaining doesn’t solve problems. If you can change a situation, do it. But if you can’t, shift your perspective. A Standford study says complaining shrinks the hippocampus — a part of the brain critical to problem-solving and intelligent thought. I can’t verify how accurate the source is, but if it’s true, complaining is making you dumber. It’s also changing how people see you — for the worse. Stop complaining and start innovating.

3. Don’t tell, show

“Waste no time arguing how a good man should be. Be one.” — Marcus Aurelius

Your level of success is determined by what you do. Not what you say you’ll do. Again, saying something is much easier than doing it.


An old friend of mine has been telling me she’s gonna become a social media influencer for the longest time. Every time we cross paths, I check on her progress. The response has been the same for the past 6 years — “I’m just tryna sort my life out first.”

Life is never going to be perfect; it’s never going to feel like the right time. If you’re convicted that things aren’t the way they should be, start taking action yourself. That’s what Sara Blakely did in 2000. Despite having no fashion experience, she was convinced that panty lines shouldn’t be showing through her cream-colored slacks. What she did next changed the course of her life forever. She cut the feet off a pair of pantyhose and wore the cropped hose underneath her pants to smooth the lines. People loved the idea. Blakely is now a billionaire.

That story is missing key details, but the point is simple: don’t talk about what you’re gonna do. “Just do it,” as the popular Nike slogan says. Whenever I hear myself say, “I’m gonna,” I catch my lips. I didn’t tell people, “I’m gonna move to Ghana,” I just booked my one-way ticket. Talk less about what you’re gonna do and start doing. Convince through your actions, not your words.

4. Be responsive, not reactive

The first virtue is to restrain the tongue; he approaches nearest to gods who knows how to be silent, even though he is in the right.” — Cato the elder

There was a drunk guy who regularly roamed the street at night, hurling abusive comments at people as they went by. Locals in the area knew what he was like when he drank, so no one took it personally. One weekend, someone booked the venue he regularly attended for a party. The local drunkard wasn’t pleased. He went to another pub up the road to fulfill his weekly habit of getting intoxicated. When he was done, he returned to his regular spot to hurl abuse at passers-by.


The guys hosting the party aren’t from the area. One partygoer stepped out to get some fresh air. He’s not much of a party person and doesn’t even drink alcohol. When the drunk guy saw him, he verbally abused him. The partygoer ignored it at first. It was only when the drunk guy mentioned his mother that he responded with a right hook to the drunkard's jaw. This sparked a massive fight in which the police had to be called. Upon arrival, the first thing they said was, “We’ve had reports of two drunk guys fighting.”

This story is completely fictional, but it does a great job of pushing the message I want to tell you: How you react to hostility is evidence of your wisdom. Even though the partygoer wasn’t drunk, he was classified as such because he was fighting someone who was. His reaction to the insults conveyed a clear message to the spectators — he must be drunk too. In all situations, maintain a cool, calm, and collected demeanor. Don’t allow someone else to dictate your emotions.

RELATED: 4 Tiny Habits Of People Who Have Control Over Their Reactions


5. Watch your words and the words of others

“Be silent, or let thy words be worth more than silence.” — Pythagoras

Words create your world. Everything around you is a by-product of words you speak and absorb from others. This is the reason everyone sees the world differently.

It’s also the reason the police tried to censor UK drill music. For context, UK drill is a subgenre of drill music originating from Chicago. The artists of this genre usually paint a gruesome picture of real events happening in London street culture. For example, in a lyric by one artist, he said, “I put Rambo blades in the chest. I put flick knives straight into my neck. With the WAP (gun) I’ll aim for your head. When you see me, you’re looking at death.” This artist is now serving 20+ years for aiming a shotgun at police during a chase.


Law enforcement's argument for the censorship of drill was that it incites violence because the people who are dissed, which includes the dead, feel the need to take revenge. Most listeners from the culture deny it, but there’s some truth to the police’s argument. In the court hearing of my best friend's murder, the defendant told the jurors, “When I listen to rap music, I want to stab somebody” — he was just 16.

The words you speak and consume are constantly shaping your world. Be more conscious of how you limit yourself with language. But that’s just one side of the coin. The other side is about embracing the power of silence. Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping quiet. At the same time, don’t just stay silent to avoid talking. It’s better to speak only when your words add to the conversation. For example, I wouldn’t create content if I felt like I didn't have something to say about the topic I’m writing about. Strive to have something of importance to say. And when you don’t, say nothing.

6. Be comfortable doing nothing

“All of man’s problems arise from his inability to sit in a quiet room alone.” — Pascal

Embrace boredom. Overindulgence in screen activities dulls the mind. Taking time out to be bored reverses the effects of constant stimulation. Various studies have shown people who experience moderate levels of boredom are more likely to engage in creative thinking and problem-solving. By taking some time to be bored each day, you enable yourself to tap further into your creativity.


Principles are a way of life. Due to humans being around for a long time, we’ve been able to craft a few that help us excel. These 6 will significantly improve your life if you embrace them:

  1. Don’t try to prove yourself to others
  2. Never complain
  3. Don’t tell them, show them
  4. Be responsive, not reactive
  5. Watch your words
  6. Embrace boredom

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Kurtis Pykes is a professional writer with articles featured on Medium, Nvidia blog, DataCamp, and neptune.ai, among many others.