You cautiously open your eyes. It’s 5:27am, three minutes before your alarm goes off. “I’d rather sleep all day than go to work,” you think to yourself. You yawn, flip onto your stomach and grunt a few times, all in the hope of changing the inevitable. It’s Monday and you’re not so pumped about going to work, that line up of meetings, sports and mundane activities, which will keep you busy for the next five years. You try to be perfect, wear the right clothes, say the right words, do the right workout, but it’s inevitable; life catches up. We battle to attain perfection; we struggle to survive.

For the average person, this feels more like damage control than bliss. And, that’s partly true, as self-mastery can be seen as self-reflection in its most refined form. A healthier version of you is only a few moments of reflection away.

To live happier and healthier lives, we must first observe how we function individually and with others, becoming more conscious of our surroundings, feelings, thoughts, and most importantly, our reactions to circumstances. Our response to the natural flow of a changing universe is ultimately what determines our level of self-mastery and, therefore, our capacity to live a life of mental, physical and spiritual freedom.

1. Masters-of-self learn to navigate chaos in the most graceful, healthy ways. Perfection can be illusive in a naturally chaotic universe. They separate the need to be perfect from the desire to love fully and become fully present in their actions, wants and needs.

2. Masters-of-self treat their body with respect and dignity. They listen to the body acutely, in order to provide the proper amount of rest, movement, nourishment and love.

3. Masters-of-self continuously empty their mind of unhealthy thoughts that drain willpower (anger, fear, doubt and greed) and replace them with positive and productive thoughts (courage, passion, love and peace).

4. Masters-of-self are emotionally honest, factually truthful, and precise in their actions. They strive for self-development and services to others. Living beyond selfishness and ego, they adopt higher values that support personal growth and developmentin order to help others. This means not doing things for status, power and attention.

5. Masters-of-self allow others be as they are, without condition. Dogmatic reasoning and the need to control others can often lead to a battle of egos. Finding peace in stressful moments, masters-of-self work diligently to diffuse tensions and create stable relationships.

6. Masters-of-self have a strong sense of Self; they understand their identity and purpose. They see the importance of honoring the divinity within, as well as beyond. This includes behaving with reverence and respect towards past and future generations. Without our past, we have nothing to learn from; without our future, we have nothing to work towards. Masters-of-self welcome the arrival of chaos, for it keeps them grounded in their purpose and life path.

7. Masters-of-self take ownership of their actions and thoughts, becoming responsible, dependable, trustworthy and enthusiastic about their life. They bring energy and vitality to their environment, relationships and career.

8. Lastly, masters-of-self know independently when they have achieved self-mastery; no person or being can tell them. They continuously tweak and adapt their masterful approach to new scenarios and adventures, forever. Life becomes a never-ending process of self-realization and demystification of the unknown. They learn to welcome surprises and new experiences that lend to the soul’s growth, and simply discard what doesn’t belong.

One can never fully achieve self-mastery, for it is illusive, like perfection. But, through the process of arduous growth and experience, one becomes the master-of-self: honorable, trustworthy and committed to the art form of self-mastery.