1. The first step to changing your life is changing your mind. The life you have, 100 percent of it, has come from the manifestation of your thoughts and choices up to now, many of them unintentional or by habit. If you desire a happier, better, or different kind of life, step one: make new choices. Your first choice is: decide to do this, and mean it this time.

2. Seek and find the answer to this question: “What do I really want?” (instead of) “What am I willing to settle for?” For this you will have to disengage your logical mind and your ego. Spend some quiet private time with your simple self, and invite God, or the universal power, or the Christ within, (God recognizes all names, faiths, and religions) to join you there.

And Yes, that is available to you, and it is connected to you from the inside, not anywhere from the outside. Try meditation, or a simple child-like prayer, and just sit awhile with your mind pushed aside and your heart open and listening. The answer may not come right away the first time you ask. Go to this meditation place again, and again. The answer will come.

3. When you have discovered what your true heart (not your ego) really wants in life, make a commitment to it, open yourself to it, and let it come to you. Refuse to entertain any judging thoughts, either positive or negative, about whether you deserve it or not. These thoughts will try to intrude; and you must gently and firmly refuse them, and put them aside. Put all other people’s opinions aside. Let God decide. S/He will be wiser and kinder than you or your friends or family.

4. Forgive everything and everyone that you are holding in your heart unforgiven. Resentments eat like acid into the deepest places of mind and heart. They keep the wounds open and raw. Holding onto a grievance doesn't hurt the other person - but it does hurt you - and keeps on hurting you long after the original damage is ancient history. Anger burns on and on. You don't deserve that, and you don't have to do that to yourself any longer. You can end your own pain, now. Forgiving is not something you do for others; it's something you can do for yourself, that clears out a new space for happier things.

Forgiving doesn't mean the other person was right. It doesn't mean what they did or didn't do was right or even okay. Forgiving means that you have decided to release yourself from the bondage of hurt and anger that have kept you tied to a bad situation and unhappy feelings which you really didn't deserve in the first place. And as you make the choice to forgive, it's important that you acknnowledge whatever part you may have had in it, known or unknown, and forgive yourself too.

Forgiving is a process, it begins with the radical decision to claim your freedom. To let go, and let this hurtful baggage pass away from you. It doesn't mean they "got away with" something, it means you have set yourself free to be your best self, and reclaim your inner peace.

5. Start building yourself a supportive environment. Choose to let go of old habits that do not serve your new life - old habits, people, and places that waste your time and energy. Seek and find new ones, better ones. Get bad nutrition out of your house, right now. Don’t keep any junk food or snacks. Throw it away, all of it, and take out the trash. Building a supportive environment for yourself might mean looking for different friends, a different job, or even a different career. Don't rush in. Use your common sense, but think ahead to what will actually benefit you, and what you really want in life and begin to move toward it.

6. Practice “Acting As If.” This is a powerful morale booster and shape-shifter, and it actually does change how others see you, by changing how you see yourself. As you begin to carry yourself like the person you want to be, you begin to become the way you want to be, from the inside out. Decide, commit, and change your life-view from one of lack (of any thing - time, money, friends) to one of abundance and gratitude.

7. “Counting your blessings” actually works. It brings good things to mind, which draws more good things and experiences to you. Whatever we focus on in thought, always increases. So whatever good things there are in your life, even little things - point them out to yourself, remind yourself, give thanks for them, focus on them, and you will attract more, unexpected, even unimaginable blessings into your life. They will just show up. Likewise, when we let our thoughts focus on our troubles, fears, and problems, more of those will show up.

8. “Believe you have received it.” Jesus said, and like the rest of his simple but brilliant teachings, it works. Be willing to trust God and the universe. This is not easy if your life in the past has been hard, or people have hurt you or abandoned you. But nothing is impossible, and it gets easier as you see the results begin to actually physically manifest in your life.

Absolutely believe that the life you desire is already granted to you, and is on its way to you right now. Be willing to fully accept and enjoy it. That is the second crucial half of the equation - your willingness to receive it. Check yourself for mind/ego blocks like guilt or indecision. The gift can’t be given unless there is an open receiver.

9. As you trust the universe to bring your gift to you, do your part. Work toward it - with silent commitment every day, but do not worry or stress. Work patiently in the way you enjoy. When you make mistakes, forgive yourself completely for them. Correct your course, and go forward. Don’t carry any useless baggage from the past, even the past moment. Learn, forgive, and continue forward. Things may unfold in a totally unexpected way, because in fact God/the universe is doing it, not you. You don’t have to do it. God already wants to give you every true desire of your heart. You are just helping it happen.

10. From time to time “step outside yourself” and look back over what you have done in your life. Give yourself full credit for every honest attempt, win or lose. Look at your “successes” and “failures” and see what you did that benefitted you as a person, or that hurt you. Then look at how you held your heart, while doing them. You’re likely to find that your “failures” were places you learned the most from. They too you were gifts to you.

Practice being “The Observer” of your own life. Hold yourself to doing this without judgement, without guilt, and without over-emotion. When emotions come, accept them and own them as being valid and OK. Feel them, then let them go and return to being The Observer. Let yourself be like a detective, just noticing interesting things, feelings, and events and taking note of them.

Every one of these things, good or bad, contains gifts and learnings. Look for them. Appreciate them. Give thanks for them. They are always there. Give yourself credit for them and take them to your soul-bank. Things you thought were failures usually turn out to be successful learnings and growth.

11. Trust your heart, and your natural gift of intuition. Take action where it feels right, and don’t rush in where it feels pressured or uncomfortable in the pit of your stomach. Return at least once a day to your hour or minutes of “innner time” of meditation or prayer. Ask for guidance, and follow the “still small voice of Spirit” within. It never shouts like the ego-mind does, but it gently breathes the truth. The ego will demand and accuse, but your safe sanctuary is always there, within, and God will meet you there.

12. Remember always that it is God and the eternal, inevitable workings of God’s universal laws that do the work of manifesting all life on earth – for us, and through us, at the call of our thoughts and desires. Be awake and aware, joyful and thankful, as you watch your extraordinary blessings begin to appear and unfold. Remember to live lightly. You are meant to be happy. You are the child of God and the universe. Everyone loves to see a happy child at play. God does too.

Know that God/the universe is always ready to express in the world as you, and is waiting only for your invitation. Send it.

this Month's New Thought Essay, Poetry, and Blog. Darkhorse Press New Poets