Here is my summary of a collection of advice I ran across for people who are struggling in life:
Follow the advice you would give to a good friend. Or pick someone you really admire, who shows good judgment. And ask, “What would they do?” Only listen to those you have good reason to trust.
Keep it real. You need to be honest with yourself about your motives and the situation. You value something to extent you are willing to sacrifice for it. Don’t rationalize and play word or mind games with yourself. Recognize what’s bothering you and name it. Try to see the whole picture: the evidence, the logic, and your feelings as they relate to the problem. “Reason means truth, and those who are not governed by it take the chance that someday the sunken fact will rip the bottom out of their boat.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Don’t catastrophize. Ask yourself, ”How important will this be one year from now?” Don’t be afraid of something more than it is due. Sometimes it’s best to face your fears. For example, one way to deal with panic attacks is to get in a safe situation, deliberately initiate one, make it as intense as possible, encouraging it to kill you, and let it burn itself out over the course of an hour or so.
You have to set priorities, make tradeoffs, adjust to life’s limitations, and accept imperfections. Be flexible, opportunistic, and creative in pursuing the means towards your ends. When setting goals make them reasonable. Measure your progress; you will pay attention to what you measure. One of the strongest predictors of success is being able to delay gratification. Create/choose a helpful environment.
Don’t make excuses to be a jerk. It’s counterproductive because people won’t put up with it, and besides it won’t help you solve your problem. Don’t whine. Flush the guilt about a failure, and do something useful. Control the controllables. Don’t procrastinate. Learn and teach others. Do be grateful. See the humor and beauty in life. Challenges are necessary, they keep us from going crazy from boredom.
Don’t worry, but do plan and problem solve. If you have a problem you have several options: You can try to fix it by confronting it rationally. Can you at least mitigate the situation? If you can’t fix or mitigate the problem then you can try to ignore it. In that case try to change the topic, and then do something else that’s productive. You can also try to disown it, “That’s what father believes, but I don’t.” Sometimes doing nothing can be better than doing something. Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and retreat from a problem, while sometimes it’s best to confront it. Knowing which to do and when is not always simple, and is one of the main reasons life can’t be reduced to a simple set of rules. So, there is no substitute for rationality, and really knowing what you are talking about. Problem solving involves such things as the intelligent application and understanding of plans, probabilities, appropriate risk taking (and accepting the mistakes you will make), persistence, diminishing returns, and a whole lot of domain specific knowledge.
You have to learn to negotiate and compromise, observe and set appropriate boundaries, disagree agreeably, give appropriate credit, and the art of forgiveness. Learn the rules of etiquette, humility, how to be a good team player, how to show respect, how to value and appreciate others. Love is dependable, helpful, and compassionate. You should practice the golden rule within an appropriate circle of concern. Not everyone is good, so flush toxic people. Adult relationships are between equals; otherwise they might very well involve unfair manipulation. Platonic love across the genders is not a myth. Actions and plans are a balance of thought, action, and emotion; which create reflection, involvement, and warmth. Your actions should reflect your core values directed by reason. Sometimes you just have to laugh and accept the embarrassments of life. To have mature love it is necessary to share deeper thoughts and mutual beliefs. Ignore the bling; everyone is ordinary in most ways.
To have a community you need shared values, understandings, rules, a sense of identity, and a sense of shared history. (See also: The Uplift Program for Happiness - Lost Wanderer) You have to conform to some degree to belong to a community, so fit in and be ordinary in a healthy community. People need to be dedicated to something larger than themselves. Spirituality helps happiness. The other choices are believing in ridiculous chance, or depressing determinism. Meaning generates energy. The gratifications of being part of a healthy community for most people exceed the pleasures of power, hedonism, popularity, and money. Although money can help a lot, you can’t simply buy happiness off the shelf. A person’s commitment to the communal welfare can even trump status, health, and safety. The importance of community is shown by the fact that many of the greatest fears people have are socially related: isolation, bereavement, betrayal, disgrace. Mental health doesn’t come from reading a book, but from practice and habit within a healthy community.
Guess positive if you don’t know. For example, imagine that you estimate there is an 80% chance you will all die even if you are all positive about a situation. And you also estimate that there is a 100% chance you will all die if you aren’t. Which do you choose? Make the best out of whatever happens - make lemonade. Use your thoughts and actions to train your feelings and habits, which then shape your values, which then shape your thoughts and actions….
There are many traps people fall into: Drugs are reinforcement traps, so is being co-dependent. Practice good health and hygiene. Be careful when inferring motives from behavior, don’t assume bad intentions or strategic interference unless you have confirmed it. If you are over-controlled you might become compulsive. If you are under-controlled you might be histrionic. You can stupidly rebel for its own sake. You can chronically argue, and be a know it all. You can be closed minded and dogmatic, or be a doormat. Don’t just react to some wrong (or wrong idea) in a simple mirror-like fashion, but react thoughtfully, at a time and in a manner of your own choosing.