Life.  Such a simple word for an amazing and complex experience.  We spend the majority of our lifetime with this precious gift attempting to define what we want out of it and how to achieve it.   We try to find  “the answer” while struggling to learn the rules handed to us by our parents, society, possibly religious affiliations, and our careers until it’s our time to hand the rules down to our children.

Ironically, life didn’t hand any person a set of rules, and the ones we learn are more about survival and possibly ways to financially prosper through hard work and socializing.  Why is that?  Until recently, survival was all that homo-sapiens knew.

Now that survival is relatively easily taken care of, we have the luxury of seeking happiness and a better life.  The rules have changed, and they are surprisingly more individually focused than how we were raised to believe.  What are these new rules?   A world-leading psychiatrist reveals 20 rules for living a better life.

Embracing Change to a Better Life Through Meaning and Resilience

It’s funny, isn’t it, that we have to consciously decide to live a better life?  Yet, that is exactly what it is – a decision – that requires commitment and a willingness to learn new methods and to change.  We have to take time in life to stop and honestly think about what we want our life to mean, how to make it better and then have the resilience to make it happen.  It takes guts, determination, and internal fortitude to not settle for less in our lives any longer.

This decision doesn’t manifest itself overnight.  It is a process that requires time for ourselves to change and events around us to change.  Change can be challenging, but there are methods to make it less daunting.  The American Psychological Association lays out a few steps to utilize when you wish to bring about change in your life:

Come up with a game plan

Create a realistic plan and write out the specific steps to get there. Maybe you want to take a few classes at a nearby college.  What time(s) of the day would that be feasible?  Which college do you wish to go to?  Does that college offer the classes you want at that time?  How do you need to register for them, and when does the semester start?  How much money will you need?

And sometimes you need to break the steps down even further.  Maybe the money is an issue.  Then, you create a plan on how you can save to get the money.   Your ultimate goal has not changed.  You are just adding a short term goal of how to get the money you need to take the classes.

Create achievable goals

Keep it simple and small. After creating the ultimate long-term goal, then form small goals with the steps to get there.  Using the above example of taking classes, you might make a list of colleges to research on the internet for the classes they offer.  Then make a list of who you need to contact to find out registration times and costs.

Take small bites

Break everything down. Don’t try and change your entire world at one time. Pick one thing to change and focus on that.  If going back to school is your focus, don’t add in exercise for a walkathon in 3 months.  Keep your eye on the first prize.  Overwhelming yourself will only result in frustration, and you will be more likely to give up.

Find your friends

Get moral support. Let a close friend in on your plan and ask for their support and for them to hold you accountable.  Make sure this is someone who knows you and won’t be hypercritical if you falter but will instead help remind you of why you are doing this change.   Maybe if they are so inclined, they will join you in this change.

Accept input from others

It’s ok to accept help from others. Oftentimes, people think they need to do something entirely on their own.  This is not true.  A businessman relies on multiple people to ensure his company runs successfully, and so should you.  Talk to friends or family if you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.  Talking to a therapist if you are genuinely having a hard time is a good option as well.  Perhaps they can help you find out where the mental block is happening and get you past it.

Often when we start on a journey of change, other issues come up that may temporarily divert your time from the immediate steps.  That is ok.  It just means that this needed to be an added step that you were unaware of, but your ultimate goal still exists.

The Guidelines to Self-Discovery on the Path to a Better Life

Along this path of change comes a lot of self-discovery.  You may find that many of the ideas of how your life should be handled no longer apply because they aren’t necessary or are no longer serving you in bettering your life.  You are not alone.  As time goes on, society changes expectations and we, as individuals, change our expectations for our lives.   The “rules” for this new expectation are contrary to those you had when you started your life.

These new rules, or guidelines, were outlined by a Russian psychologist and psychotherapist, Dr. Mikhail Litvak.  He has written upwards of 40 books which are psychology-related. Dr. Litvak teaches his clients a method which incorporates the following rules.  The rules are called psychological aikido due to his personal passion for the martial art, aikido.   He wrote of these rules in a book titled “ Psychological Aikido.”

Know yourself and become your first priority.


  1. Happiness is only within yourself. Chasing people and material possessions do not lead to happiness.  Let your abilities shine and embrace your accomplishments as a reflection of yourself, and that will lead you to happiness.


  1. Be assured and confident in your goodness, intelligence, and your value. When you have that, you won’t feel it is necessary to seek approval or have your qualities reinforced by others through compliments or bragging.


  1. Let go of feeling you need to prove yourself to others. Live for yourself or you will find yourself living for others.


  1. Conquer your worst enemy – yourself. Face your fears, flaws, and failures.  When you have done that, no other enemy can stand in your way.

Develop healthy mindsets


  1. Don’t allow trying to please others to be a way of life. It is impossible to please everyone and the end result is your destruction.


  1. Anyone who attempts to guilt you for help they once gave you should be let go after your debt is paid.


  1. Respect everyone’s journey. Focus on your journey or on continuing to educate yourself rather than others’ lives.


  1. Give strangers a chance to get to know you by talking with them. They may surprise you by seeing your value.


  1. Accept that someone will always find fault and criticize you. Someone will always be skeptical of your goals.  Let your accomplishments speak for you and their words will have no meaning.


  1. Two things that will most definitely teach you the most about yourself:
  • Your enemies. Your enemies show you your weaknesses, faults or bad habits.
  • As challenging and overwhelming as depression is, it teaches you to look within yourself and discover what drives you or prevents you from moving forward.

Goal Setting Tips for Yourself


  1. Make a good plan of action and stay organized toward that purpose and happiness will come easier.


  1. Don’t be an immature person who criticizes others for their accomplishments.  Be mature, and gain knowledge which can you can use and then implement it.


  1. Don’t wait and expect someone to give you permission for something you want in life.  Take control of it yourself and responsibility for the actions to achieve it.


  1. If you are prone to daydreaming, make sure to keep your dreams realistic.  Plant goals and dreams that are achievable so that you do not become frustrated and disillusioned.


  1. A person who does not seek and accomplish goals, or who fails to have to have good qualities of their own, will become a negative and critical person.

General Tips for a Better Life


  1. Don’t waste your time with shallow people.  Choosing a good book is better time spent.


  1. Focus on growing emotionally and professionally.  Use that to be your guide if a relationship or profession is working for you or not.


  1. Thinking logically and with wisdom does not have a gender.


  1. Sharing your happiness with others multiplies your happiness and can bring happiness to others.  If the other is your enemy, then they shall see that they have no hold on you.


  1. People each move at their own pace through life. Sometimes that pace is faster than others, and one is left behind.  It doesn’t mean anyone was rejected.   Instead, it means they were left in their lane to go at their speed and the other is also in their lane.
    better life

Final Thoughts on Living a Better Life

As I mentioned above, these rules are much more individually focused.  They are based around you taking care of yourself and your needs.  This does not mean become self-centered, overly selfish and lose compassion for others.  It means to recognize that each person must live their own life.  Permit yourself to make decisions focused on your needs and wants, not those of society, friends, or acquaintances.

These 20 rules laid out by this world-leading psychiatrist show a method to allow you to lead a better life that isn’t dependent upon the whims of others, but upon yourself.