04/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

10 Simple Steps To Find Success

I've always found autobiographies interesting. They are stories we already know, but we crave each little detail and event. How did they do it? What is the formula? How did they pull off the success that we admire and aspire to make our own? Maybe Woody Allen wakes up at 5am every morning and writes down the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe Michael Pollan does 8 shots of wheat grass every day. Maybe Elizabeth Gilbert has a lucky dime she keeps in her pocket when she's writing. What is it? We think if we found out what it is exactly that makes people successful, we can copy it and turn the same results for ourselves.

Interestingly enough in my research of success I haven't found a short cut - yet. There is no secret code, no chalice of success passed down. Aside from having a relative in your industry of choice or a big bag of money handed to you, success stories are all unique. Even what appears as a head-start, a financial or a family member hook up, is not a guarantee and often acts tragically as a hindrance. There is no formula, no 5 step process, and no tricks.

Apparently it takes hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears. Surprise, surprise! However, I have a discovery we all know, but often forget, to share as a reminder. Success in any form begins with bringing out your own uniqueness. Each individual I've admired and been inspired by is so completely themselves. In the slacker movie "You, Me, and Dupree" (a Netflix must), Owen Wilson corners his best bud Carl (Matt Dillon) and reminds him of his Carl-ness. He doesn't want his pal to loose his Carl-ness because he knows that is what makes him special. He also tells him it's the key to his success.

I'm down with that. We all need to find our own Carl-ness and stick with it. I am a firm believer, corny as it may be, that everyone has something unique to offer the world, something that no one else can quite do the same. It's up to each person to manifest that and turn it into something useful, whether it's discovering a cure for HIV, being a parent, or running a company. The trap is copying others instead of trusting your instincts while cultivating your skill. What if Woody Allen tried to make movies like Steven Spielberg. It probably wouldn't turn out so good as "Annie Hall." It would lack Woody-ness.

It takes a great deal of confidence simply to find and be yourself, rather than a collection of things you like about other people. It also takes a willingness to accept the possibility of actually being happy. We hear all the time: oh, they are afraid of success. I think we're also afraid to be happy. What would happen if we were actually happy? I don't mean happy like after you've seen a really great movie or finished a really good meal. I mean truly happy, no complaints with life, smiling at strangers for no apparent reason, happy. Are we ready to be happy? People are going to wonder about you and look at you strange if you are happy. Are you ready for that? I think accepting that possibility is a huge step toward success.

Here are some tips for success I have found in my research. Go down the list and if you are really ready to be happy, then I challenge you to go for it. Throw the deferred life plan out the window. Be happy now.

10 tips for success.

1. Find Yourself
It's so hippie dippy but practical. The hippies were on to something good with this one. Stop trying to be someone else. You have useful things to offer. Own it.

2. Work Hard
Don't be lazy. Hard work pays off. OMG I sound like someone's Mom!

3. Be Nice to People
There's no need to be mean, in words or thoughts. Reason 1: Karma, duh. Reason 2: Regression. When mean thoughts occupy your brain and not-so-nice speech pours out of your mouth, you slip a few notches on the psychological development chart.

4. Get Sleep
Your brain and body need sleep to perform at the level you want so give it to them.

5. Eat Healthy
Same thing with sleep. Give your body good food, not junk.

6. Do Yoga
A yoga practice helps you "stay you." Following your breath in meditation and moving with your breath in yoga class helps you notice what you are. Which (surprise) feels pretty good, leads to happiness, and allows you to succeed at being you.

7. Be Conscious
Practice paying attention to what goes on from the little things to the big stuff. This will streamline your actions into effectiveness.

8. Smile
Smiling is an action of happiness, fake it until you make it and pass the smiles along to friends, co-workers, and strangers. People will wonder what is wrong with you. It's fun to keep them guessing.

9. Don't Worry What Anyone Thinks
Your dream is your own. If you waste your time worrying what everyone thinks you will be busy worrying instead of being successful. However, don't forget #3.

10. Drink Water
Water keeps your system clean and a clean system operates better. Besides, all those extra trips to the bathroom provides a few minutes of opportunity for fantastic ideas to pop into your brain.