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Be in the now, but plan ahead: Life tips for success and happiness from masters

Strive for happiness but striving causes suffering.
Strive for happiness but striving causes suffering.
mitra mirshahidi/flickr commons

I have tried for years to be a better person. I want to be happy and successful and fun to be with and rich and not complain, not get angry or sweat the small stuff. I want to be a great dad and a good son and a good friend.

I want the inner peace of the Dalai Lama and the confident swagger and financial success of a Steve Jobs while maintaining my joy like Oprah Winfrey.

I've studied dozens of paths for personal growth and spiritual development. I read The Rules of Attraction, The Spiritual Laws of Success, The Way of Happiness, The Power of Now, The Art of Living and Dying, The Science of Getting Rich, How to Find Peace and Purpose, Using the Mind to Manifest Prosperity, How to Forgive and How to Fulfill Your Life Purpose.

And with each new teaching I leaped into the world prepared. But some of these rules seem confusing or contradictory to me. How can that be? Happy is happy right?

Well, not really. It seems the road to success and happiness is a long and winding one that forks, dead-ends, goes two ways or backwards or just turns off into a ditch somewhere. Or maybe what works for one person may or may not work for you. So how do you know which path to take? Just do it, but look before you leap.

Here is what I've learned about how to be completely successful and totally happy:

1. Have a strong desire for what you want, but desire is the cause of suffering.

See what you want. Be specific. Visualize it as often as you can. Create it in your imagination as if it is already here BUT don't overthink things. Don't focus on results. Go with the flow and you'll get what you really want.

2. The only moment is now. Be in the moment. BUT remember your past. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

3. Be yourself. 100% authentic, BUT remember to "fake it 'til you make it."

4. The more you help others, the more you help yourself. BUT take care of yourself first.

5. Discover what you're passionate about, BUT your thoughts are mostly illusions and projections of your ego.

6. Get rich so you can do and have and be the things that make you happy BUT don't be focused on material possessions. Money doesn't bring you happiness.

7. Erase your personal history, the past is over and done, BUT know who you are and where you come from.

8. Just let go, but look before you leap.

9. Don't just leap, look ahead to where you're going.

10. Always go with your passions, never ask if it's realistic or not, BUT have a back-up plan, just in case.

11. Plan everything, BUT if you want to make God laugh, make plans.

12. Be fearless BUT embrace your fears.

13. DO less. BE more, BUT don't just sit there.

14. Go for your goals, BUT don't strive for things.

15. Appreciate what you have, BUT don't settle for less than what you deserve.

16. Work as hard as you can everyday, BUT follow the Law of Least Effort.

17. Be humble, BUT don't sell yourself short.

18. Be serious, BUT don't take yourself too seriously.

19. Have a definite, clear plan, BUT be spontaneous and be ready to abandon your plan at any moment.

20. Don't give up, BUT doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result is a definition of insanity.

21. Don't take things personally, BUT be personal in everything you do.

22. The harder you work, the luckier you get. But working hard only leads to stress. Relax and let it come to you.

23. Nothing just comes to you, you have to make it happen by working hard.

24. Life is easy but everything is a struggle.

25. Be passionate and personal, but don't be attached.

26. The kingdom of heaven is already here, so why did you need to do any of the above stuff in the first place?

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