“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” ~Cherokee proverb

How can we live better, right now?

Most simply put, living better is about changing out mindset.

We change our mindset by intently setting out to alter our attitude and our behavior. It begins with the conscious choice to do so, and requires patience, practice, and constant refinement.

Living better — whether your goal is to be happier; mentally/emotionally/physically stronger; healthier; more positive; a better person in general; find a better job; or be a better parent, sibling, friend, spouse or neighbor — takes time, but begins with the active choice to do so.

In other words, no matter how long or treacherous the path to achieve our “better living” goals, we need to make the decision to start walking. As Lao-Tsu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” These eight affirmations will help you be a better “Renegade” and start living better, starting right now.

Affirmation 1. “If I don’t believe in myself, others will, but not forever.”

Among our families and friends, there are many supportive people in our lives who believe that we can achieve just about anything (thanks, Ma!). However, after so long, if you do not believe in yourself (or cannot prove that you believe in yourself), people will stop believing in you, too.

In life, few things are as tragic as watching someone give up on themselves — and outside motivation can only go so far before that person must ultimately choose to change. Perhaps the most brutally-honest affirmation of this list, reality is that people will eventually stop believing in you if cannot prove your self-confidence, inner strength, determination, and personal faith to just “be you” and achieve what you are pursuing.

Affirmation 2. “If I don’t appreciate all that I have, I will when it’s gone.”

Gratitude is the cornerstone of happiness. When we reflect upon what we have, we are naturally more content and peaceful, and nurture a natural desire to help other people realize their own gratitude. Too often do we fail to recognize how much we have in life until is slips through our fingers and we’re left wishing that we had it still.

Whether you realize it or not, you have a world of rights and privileges, unique talents and gifts, and blessings for which to be grateful. Like most things, gratitude is a matter of perspective: if you focus too much upon negatives, complaints, and hardships, you are all the less likely to realize how much you truly have.

Affirmation 3. “My judgments of others more reveal my perception of myself than those whom I judge.”

Our thoughts about others — especially our judgments and criticisms — are more likely to be a mirror-image reflection of how we feel about ourselves than they are an accurate perception of the person whom we are judging.

Our thoughts reflect perfectly like a mirror to reveal the workings of our inner selves: the subconscious perceptions that we have about who we think we are and who we think we “ought” to be. The mirror-like nature of our thinking is not only beneficial insofar as it reveals how we really feel on the inside; it also allows us to become more self-aware and introspective. What do your judgments of others reveal about you?

Affirmation 4. “If I don’t fight for myself, others might, but not forever.”

Ideally, there would never be a need to “fight” on behalf of ourselves or others. Unfortunately, we all know the combative and violent downside to the nature of human beings: to fight and to defend is a part of human instinct and survival.

While men and women will stand up beside you and defend you, at times the decision will be forced upon you: there will certainly be moments when we need to fight for others and even ourselves — who we are, what we dream, what we believe in. The fight is always more mental than it is physical, for this battle requires self-confidence, inner strength, and a sense of personal responsibility that outweighs the lure of indifference and temptation to run away.

Affirmation 5. “If I don’t pursue my dreams, no one else will for me.”

Simple, and honest.

Affirmation 6. “The only limitations that exist are those that I perceive, and by which allow myself to be constrained.”

What is stopping you? There are sure to be a litany of excuses that you believe inhibit you from pursuing your dreams, achieving your goals, and finding true happiness.

However, the excuses that we perceive to be preventing us from doing what we want and love are self-imposed: outside of physical limitations, most of our perceived limitations are fear-based excuses we contrive — walls and barriers constructed in our minds — that both prevent and protect us from taking a leap of faith and pursuing what we will.

Affirmation 7. “If I don’t know what I want, stop searching for it, because it cannot be found.”

Pursuits are a beautiful thing. But pursuing any dream or goal or objective becomes obsolete when we are searching for something that we cannot or do not know how to find. This is what we often refer to as “the rat race” in life: living just because we exist, and failing to explore the big picture.

If you are in search of something, what exactly is it? If you can’t explain your life’s greatest aspiration — some goal, fulfillment, happiness, true contentment — ask yourself, how would I ever be able to achieve it?

Affirmation 8. “If I open myself fully to what I want and what I need in my life, it will be realized.”

At times, we need to break from “the pursuit,” and strive to simply open ourselves up: to open our minds fully, to open our hearts, to embrace what is and to let go and abandon what is not. Stop pursuing what cannot be found, and realize that no externality is needed outside of what can be found within.