Having vitality means having high energy and the optimism to believe that life can be what you make it. Now, some people are just going to be more high-energy than others, but anyone can work on their personal optimism and this in turn will feed into the energy you have to get things done and make improvements on your life.

The next question is, what does all this have to do with courage? If you are going to act boldly in life without fear, having the optimism that you can make positive change will make a huge difference. As a human being, you should have that confidence anyway! Unless you are in truly dire straights, your life is mostly what you make of it. You might not get everything you want and you might not meet your own expectations, but if you really get down to it, the definition of success and failure is a human construct. That means that what might mean great success to one person could be meaningless to another. If you are working well with all the resources you have available to you and your life is meaningful and useful to others, then you probably have enough to find meaning in your life. If your definition of success means that good is not enough, or it depends too heavily on things you have no control over, then you need to rethink your definition of success.

The truth is that not everyone will be wealthy, famed, or powerful, and if everyone's happiness were wrapped up in these three attributes then there would be very few happy people in the world. You need to find a reason for living and working that goes beyond these three goals and can realistically bring you happiness. Even if you were to become famous or wealthy, if your meaning in life was only entrenched in how much money you brought home or how many people know who you are, then you would be living a shallow—and probably irresponsible—existence. It's being able to find value in your life and the lives of those around you that will give you the courage to wake up in the morning and make good things happen for you and the ones you love.

Unfortunately the trouble is not always your own personal attitude, but also those around you that can affect your self-image. This isn't always easy to avoid either, because this negative influence could be a boss at a job you can't afford to lose, a marriage with a spouse you love very much, or a friend you don't want to lose. The problem is that there are many, many motivations to bring someone else down and everyone who is close to you will do it at least a few times in your life—you have also done the same thing to others without even recognizing it. It would be remiss for me to advise you on what to do about certain relationships or give you strict guidelines about what's okay for you, but I will tell you to keep a strong, firm, stubborn sense of your own personal value. Most people who try to convince you that you have no or little value are trying to make you more malleable for their own purposes—or trying to excuse their own poor behavior that they direct at you. Note that you too have a responsibility to avoid doing this to others.

The problem is that if you have too negative a view of who you are or a negative view about your ability to be a force of good in the world, then your daily work and lifelong goals will be poisoned if not halted outright. Work hard to change your personal attitude, and protect yourself from others who are unscrupulous in their treatment toward you. Once you have a good, positive self-image, try to work on being positive and physically attempt to act more energetic—it has been shown that people become happier if they consciously attempt to smile more.

Here are some activities that might help you progress in your goals with vitality:


  • Focus on Acting More Energetic Everyday: This doesn't mean you have to pretend you have an entirely different personality, but physically talking and acting more like the energetic version of yourself will slowly change you into that best version of you. Like mentioned above, even trying to smile more can make you happier, and moving more energetically can also infect you with more energy.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Get enough sleep. Exercise five times a week (just walking for 25 minutes or more is great if you don't do any exercise at all). Eat more healthily. These are the sorts of things that will make you more energetic and improve your own self-image.
  • Give Yourself Some More "Me Time": And I don't mean time doing nothing, or time doing something you would simply like to do. I really mean the activities and hobbies that you truly enjoy doing and that you believe make up a part of who you are. This can be furniture making, fly fishing, attending concerts, going to night classes, baking—anything that is a passion for you, or could be once again if you gave it the chance (this could even be a genre of movies or books you never seem to "have the time for"). Sometimes when our lives become busy with work, family, or some other thing, we give up all the time we have for the fundamental hobbies that have made up a large part of who we think we are. Giving yourself this time and allowing yourself to be passionate about these things again might help bring back some of that enthusiasm and positivity you are lacking—much more than a vacation ever could.
  • Evaluate Your Relationships: Who is a positive influence in your life, and who isn't? Try to spend more time and effort on the relationships that build up your self-image (and don't forget that you can criticize yourself and be criticized without hating who you are). You don't have to leave tainted relationships outright—and you won't always have the choice to do so, necessarily. Try to understand that you don't have to undervalue yourself just because a few others happen to under-appreciate you. If you are in a truly abusive relationship, however, that is serious and you may need to seek professional help or advice.
  • Work on Transcendence and Humanity: If you feel your life has meaning, then it makes sense that you will have a better attitude and improve your daily vitality. Having a better connection with humanity will also help, because as social animals, humans just have better peace-of-mind when they have healthy connections with each other.

Your Record

Anytime you give up because of your negative self-image counts as a "fault" in vitality for the day. Otherwise, testing vitality is a subjective task that might be difficult to manage solely with a set of absolute rules. Try to evaluate yourself fairly and carefully when marking faults in this category. When focusing on this virtue, you can use the activities as a guide for personal goals that you will mark as a fault when they are not met on a given day.


An individual's self-concept is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behavior: the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life.

Dr. Joyce Brothers, American Psychologist and Author

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

Martha Graham, American Dance Teacher and Modern Dance Choreographer

Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment.

Max Maltz, American Motivational Author

Golden Mean

Apathy, lethargy

Recommended Reading

Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality — by Anat Baniel

This book exposes the dysfunctional mind-body connections that can prevent people of all ages from feeling strong vitality and health. Anat Baniel provides examples of research, success stories, and simple exercises that will help you live a life with profound vitality.

New Psycho-Cybernetics — by Maxwell Maltz

This self-help book by Maxwell Maltz has been around since 1960, but it is still just as valuable today. This program is based on the idea that how you think can determine success or failure.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over. F. Scott Fitzgerald