One of the lessons about maintaining wellbeing that I like to share with my clients is to not be an idiot (and yes, that’s the clean version!). While this message creates great mirth, I was asked in one of my recent sessions – what do I mean?

One of the first things we need to do in maintaining our emotional wellbeing is to take a good hard look at ourselves. What type of person am I? Am I worthy of the blessings that this world can give me and am I open to them?

So, what does it take to not be an idiot?

First thing is to be yourself – with all your strengths and failings. There is nothing like authenticity. Don’t compare yourself with others, don’t overstate your situation. You are where you are, and you are who you are for a reason – and that reason is a positive one. Believe it.

Next is to determine your purpose in life. What is your why? I have no doubt that those people who have a clear why and defined their purpose are in a good place. In the absence of a clear purpose, seeking momentary pleasure fills the void. These short term “pleasures” – addictions, inappropriate relationships, gambling, drugs, excessive alcohol use and dependency, take away from your wellbeing.

Accept responsibility for our choices and actions. When something goes wrong, who do you blame and what do you do? Good people try to make good choices. Sometimes these choices aren’t as positive or productive as we would have hoped but we made them! Good people take responsibility for their decisions and outcomes and learn from their mistakes. Making a mistake is not the issue – continuing to make the same mistake by repeating our poor decisions is! If we want a different result, we need to make different choices and take responsibility for those choices.

Accept the fact that it’s not all about us. Life is more about giving than receiving – so what are you giving to the world? I have come to accept that giving is actually a really selfish activity as the more you give, the more the universe gives back to you – so you can never give enough! Idiots on the other hand, make the world very much about themselves and just take, take, take.

Take what you do seriously, but not yourself. I have worked with people who really do consider themselves “the smartest person in the room” and act as such to the detriment of other people and ultimately themselves. Such people aren’t open to feedback and consider the slightest criticism as a challenge to their self-image. They don’t listen and dismiss other people’s views. They are also the same people who wonder why no one wants to have a social drink with them. Learn to laugh at yourself – don’t take yourself too seriously. Relax.

Develop a highly developed “idiot detector.” “Non-idiots” don’t hang around with idiots. Who is in your circle of friends? Where would you rate them on the idiot scale? Believe in the negative features of the lower common denominator. Unless we are careful, people around us can influence us and take us down to their level. Resist. Surround yourself with people you admire and aspire to be.

Finally, just don’t be an idiot.