What are the essential ingredients to a happy, effective, flourishing life?

Answer: Everyone will come up with their own answer to this question, but it’s definitely worth wrestling with.

As incredible as it sounds, ballet is made up of just 13 basic moves! Our English language is made up of just 26 letters. Our mathematical system is made up of just 10 numbers.

So what is a happy, effective, flourishing life made up of?

Here’s my answer — for  today, anyway:

22 basic building blocks of a happy, effective, flourishing life


  1. Look after my body — if I look after it, it will look after me!
  2. Whatever I am doing, be there! Be alive. Be mindful. Pay attention.
  3. Embrace the growth mindset. Believe I  can learn most things, given enough time and effort.
  4. Keep learning and growing myself.
  5. Learn how to think–rationally and creatively. Learn how to learn and remember things. Learn how to solve problems and make decisions.
  6. Be aware of the unconscious forces that  determine my behavior if I’m not awake to what’s happening.
  7. Embrace change. Embrace progress. Stay current.
  8. Participate. Have a go. Be proactive. I am what I do.
  9. Finish what I start (if it deserves to be finished).
  10. Choose to be optimistic and positive about life. Learn to spot the good and to savor it.
  11. Learn to tip myself out of negative emotions.
  12. Find meaning and purpose in life and pursue these things wholeheartedly. Aim to make a difference and add value to the world.
  13. Be brave. Believe I can handle whatever life throws at me. That way I don’t let fear hold me back.
  14. Practice the golden rule: Don’t do to others what I don’t want them to do to me.” Keep my promises. Tell the truth. Be fair. Forgive, etc.
  15. Learn to love–to give to others for the sheer joy of helping others flourish.
  16. Prioritize. Make time for the things that matter.
  17. Learn how to make beautiful conversation–how to listen and really “feel” the other person, and to be interesting and open-minded and to disagree without being disagreeable, etc.
  18. Help others flourish.
  19. Respect myself. Like myself. Be gentle and forgiving towards myself. Don’t feed myself toxic nonsense. Let my “wise self” look out for my best interests.
  20. Dare to dream big, and then to come up with an intelligent strategy to achieve the dream, and then throw myself wholeheartedly into achieving it, while all the time improving my strategy to make it better.
  21. Develop this strong inner core of principles to guide my actions and to protect me when bad things happen or others behave badly towards me.
  22. Practice reflection often to check my progress and thinking up ways to do things better.

There– they are my 22 essential building blocks for a happy, effective, flourishing life!

You know what? That kinda sounds doable–especially if I devote the rest of my life to mastering it!

What does your list look like? What have I left out? What shouldn’t be there?

About Anne Austin

I have created this website to show you simple, proven ways to improve all aspects of your life.

I hope the practical ideas I present in Practical Savvy help you become happier and more effective in all aspects of your life.

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