10 insights for a happier 2021

Lessons to live a more mindful, loving life

Steven Wakabayashi
5 min readJan 3, 2021


Image by Gaspart

2021 has come upon us.

During this time, I typically set my goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. As I get older, I’ve been leaning more into life principles and ways of thinking versus milestones and quantitative goals. It’s too easy to obsess about numerical values (money to make, hours to spend at the gym, things to accomplish at work) and lose sight of what we wanted to accomplish in the first place — being happy.

Our interpretation of happiness changes over time as we age and gain more experience. It might be more expensive one year or completely free the next. It could be extremely wholesome one day and more elusive the next.

Throughout the course of 2020, I asked myself, “what makes me happy?” Here are some of my insights coming out of last year that may hopefully lead you toward happiness this new year. (Twitter thread if you want to share via 🐦)

1. Track important values

Since my goal was to become happier, I tracked my happiness throughout 2020. I kept a log of things that were good for me including food, habits, sleep, exercise, relationships, and purchases. It’s brought me clarity into where I should spend my time.

2. Done is better than perfect

As a recovering perfectionist, I have to remind myself that perfectionism is not an absolute truth. It is chasing for the love and approval of others. We can give this to ourselves and let go of being the gate-keepers of our own passion and work.

3. Start small

To combat perfectionism in the tools at my disposal, I’ve shifted to starting my written drafts on my phone (small screen and lack of grammar-checking), and designs on paper (can’t adjust color or typography).

Tools like Grammarly are extremely useful and well-integrated but sometimes paralyzes me from being able to put together a newsletter or write longer emails. Letting go of the tools for perfection help to get my work out into the world.

4. There’s always room to iterate

Perfectionism feeds the ego and hunger for a huge fanfare upon launch. But in reality, things are always changing. Websites, books, phones, and even our bodies morph over time. Why put undue stress upon ourselves for things we can always adjust over time? Why rob ourselves of happiness for the pressures we put upon ourselves?

5. Love the process

Focusing on milestones drives me toward burnout. When looking at my calendar, 99% of my year was dedicated to the work and not these ever-changing goals. By loving the process, I can find joy in each day and become open to pivots and new possibilities. The question that I’ve been asking myself lately has been “what can I do to enjoy this process more?

6. Focus on the bigger picture

At the end of the day, what is it that we are after? Or want to feel? For me, bickering over the details with myself and others robs me of the opportunity to celebrate joy and connect meaningfully with others.

We are the sum of our everyday actions and when we lean into bitterness in the way we hold ourselves each day, we end up bitter. We don’t need to make life harder for ourselves just because we can. Rarely do the details we get so caught up in, make it to the highlight reel of our year.

7. Reinforce positively

Instead of leading with judgment and harsh criticisms, nudge toward the end goal with positive feedback. This goes for the way we hold ourselves as well. Adding to the collective trauma and self-hate in this world is a short-sighted vision to an end goal.

When we criticize others, we weaponize our approval and attention for the outcome we want. This only hurts those that care about us the most as the weapon is strongest for those that want our love and approval the most.

8. Lead by example

If we can’t show others what to do, how do we expect it from others? Actions speak louder than words. And when we can root our actions in happiness, we become the seed of change within an organization or community.

9. Always come from love

If something isn’t resonating or I only have negative things to say, I step aside and ask myself, “what is keeping me from love?” We can say the same message in a myriad of ways and the choice is ours to infuse our words and actions with love.

10. Amor Fati — loving what is

In Latin, it means “love of one’s fate”, to love all that happens in our lives including suffering, loss, and failures. The sum of our history has landed us here and experience life and help others navigate where we once stumbled before.

While 2020 may have been uncovered some ugly truths, there is still so much beauty in this world. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, actions, and feelings, and I’ve been surrounding myself with mementos in my home (letters, books, photos, inspirational people) to remind myself of this amazing world. We all want to heal, be loved, and be happy.

Happiness is within our reach at this very moment. We just need a little jump-start to remind ourselves.

Happy 2021.

But really, an insightful, revealing, mindful, loving, and happy 2021.

I host a podcast called Yellow Glitter, mindfulness through the eyes and soul of a gay Asian. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Overcast, and TuneIn.

Along with a bit of weekly mindfulness, I send out my favorite things I discover each week on my email newsletter at Mindful Moments.

Thanks for reading! Until next time.

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Steven Wakabayashi

Creative unicorn with an avid curiosity of life. Regular dose of mindfulness, social commentaries, and creativity: mindfulmoments.substack.com