“Life is short.” So cliche, but also so true. Leave behind your stress and frazzled nerves by following these tips from Lonely Planet’s new book, 101 Ways to Live Well.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
My Reading Room
Practical tips to live well, laugh often and be healthier.

“Life is short.” So cliche, but also so true. Leave behind your stress and frazzled nerves by following these tips from Lonely Planet’s new book, 101 Ways to Live Well. The handy advice will guide you to be your best self in all aspects of your life: Your relationships, work life and personal happiness will all turn for the better!

Elevate your motivation

Music has been shown to elicit specific psychological responses, depending upon the type of song played. This means that the right playlist can retune your mindset entirely. Improve your motivation or positive attitude by listening to music that evinces a positive emotional response in you.

Try to schedule a time everyday during which you play a selection of songs, channelling your focus on the music rather than any external stimuli. Notice if there are certain tunes that make you feel happy or more positive or focused. Take note of these, add them to a playlist on your computer or phone, then play them regularly to improve your mood and confidence.

Embrace downtime

This mindfulness practice from expert James Milford ( settles the mind and encourages acceptance that relaxing and restful activities are essential for health. Lie with your arms at your sides, feet away from each other. Become aware of the points at which the body is supported, and of your breath.

Silently repeat the phrase: “Nowhere to be, nothing to do, nothing to strive for, just resting as I am.” Now bring your awareness down to the feet and focus your attention with a sense of curiosity about any physical sensations. Then bring the focus to the ankles, lower legs and up to the head. Finally, expand the awareness to the whole body.

Cute concentrationboosters

Research shows that looking at cute images not only enhances mood but also improves performance for tasks that require concentration. The perfect excuse to seek out those puppy memes! Looking at baby animals triggers our biological predisposition to respond to infant features (the so-called “baby schema”) – such as a large head, protruding forehead and large eyes – and indirectly improves attention skills. Change your computer desktop image to show cute animals, or flick through six or seven different images on the web when you’re particularly prone to procrastination.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Fear can be a powerful motivation crusher. This mindfulness task will help you get over the barrier. When you want to try something new – learning to kite surf or taking an art class – sometimes fear pops up. But you can knock it back. First, recognise the fear and admit the effects it has (panic, racing heart).

Next, ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen? You’d look silly? You’d lose some money? It’s usually all stuff you’d get past. And if you did fail, there’s at least one good thing: You’d never have to regret not having tried. Then make a plan to start small and just do it.

Learn to daydream

It often gets dismissed as a waste of time, but if done correctly, daydreaming sparks creativity and makes you better at planning and goaldriven thought. It helps your brain access information that’s normally out of reach. It works best when you envision a goal, as well as the obstacles you must overcome.

So don’t just dream “I’m going to win the marathon!” and wallow in the glory. Instead, think “I’m going to win the marathon, and here’s how I’ll do it.” Psychologists estimate we daydream for up to half of our waking hours, so spend at least a few minutes of that daydreaming productively.

Show appreciation

Social bonding, like eye contact and attentiveness, promotes the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine, which fosters closeness, happiness and motivation. Research shows that couples are increasingly naming technology as a negative issue within relationships.

Time spent on devices is perceived as a barrier to intimacy and appreciation, and leads to feelings of rejection and resentment. To foster intimacy, both partners should agree that for 30 minutes per day, perhaps before bed or first thing in the morning, devices are switched off . Some time out is necessary to ensure relationships remain real rather than virtual.

My Reading Room
Plant happy thoughts

Green plants within the workplace have been shown to improve satisfaction levels, concentration and even productivity. Forego a minimalist workplace in favour of bringing a bit of the garden indoors. If space allows it, a small indoor plant on your desk will have the greatest impact, but larger shrubs in communal areas work too. Aloe, spider plants, English ivy and snake plants have all been listed in horticultural studies as species that improve air quality – and they’re low maintenance too, which should keep the boss happy.

Get instant happiness

Smiling is evolutionarily contagious – and the power of this facial action to stimulate the brain’s happiness response is catching too! Whether you’re at home or work, out and about in your neighbourhood, or on holiday, make an effort to smile at other people, while holding eye contact with them.

Smiling has proven biological benefits for the smiler – reduced stress-hormone levels, lower blood pressure, increased mood-enhancing hormone production – and you’ll be surprised by how many people react positively. In fact, science confirms that when smiling, we’re perceived to be more likeable, courteous and competent.

Use your commute

This exercise, from meditation pro Emma Mills (, cultivates presentmoment awareness, which helps the mind to be calmer, clearer and more alert. From the moment you leave your house, be with your experience as it unfolds. Don’t multitask. If you are walking, be walking; if you are on the train looking out of the window, do just that.

Focus on what’s happening now in your sensory world. It might be helpful to imagine that when you get to your destination, someone is going to ask you to describe your trip in detail – what you saw, heard, smelled – so pay attention. This meditation brings a sense of novelty and joy to a routine event.

Harness the travel mindset wherever you are

These simpleto- do activities in your “real” life cultivate the same sense of adventure and bliss you feel while travelling. One way to globe-trek at home is to try different foods. Try a Burmese restaurant, Jamaican market or Colombian bakery. Likewise, drive to an unfamiliar part of town, walk a few blocks and see what’s there.

This blends into a third component of keeping the vibe alive: Notice the details around you. Novel things surround you at home as well as abroad, but you forget to pay attention. Maybe keep a journal of what you experience. It’s all about getting a new viewpoint and being inspired.

Green plants within the workplace have been shown to improve satisfaction levels, concentration and even productivity.



More: improve