On August 5, 2008 I lived on this planet for exactly 2/3 of a century and in that time came to understand some of the basic rules of successful living. None of what I am about to share with you is original, it is just a collection of really helpful concepts that others have shared with me through scripture and song, and now I pass them on to you as a kind of birthday gift. They may seem rather obvious, even simplistic, but their gift often eludes even the most sophisticated among us. I can report to you that for many years I knew these words in my head but never understood them in my heart. It is not enough just to say these things--you must live them every single day.
Ask yourself, “Do I deserve to be happy and have a nice life?” If the answer is a resounding “yes,” read on. Although the first three suggestions are the most critical and appear at the top of the list, the others are in no particular order of importance. I hope these words work their way into your daily life. The rewards are endless and manifold. Just remember: this is not a dress rehearsal!
As an educator I was thinking about how my students might make best use of this information and decided it would be most beneficial just to read one suggestion in the morning and then think about it as the day goes along. If you keep the suggestion in the back of your mind as you go through your day there will be moments later on when a particular event informs or confirms what you have been considering. This imprinting of the lesson will be stronger as you collect the data yourself. I could have written a whole book on this subject, but there are already enough self-help books on the market. My hope is that my suggestions get you started on the road to writing your own book that you can share with friends, family, and even strangers (friends you have not made yet). There are thirty suggestions, so in one month’s time you will have taken the necessary first steps to successful living, one day at a time.
1. Whatever happens, keep breathing and keep going.
2. Keep yourself physically and emotionally safe.
3. Do everything you can to keep yourself healthy, and celebrate your good health when you have it. Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.
4. Be grateful rather than needy. Begin and end each day saying thank you for all you have been given. Make a list of all your blessings and you will be amazed at how lucky you really are.
5. Do not compare yourself with other people. Each person is a unique combination of body, mind, and spirit. Nothing can be gained by comparing one small part of you to that of another. If you want to, compare yourself today with the person you were yesterday. Have you grown? Have you improved?
6. Life is a party. Everyone one you meet has something to give you or something to teach you. Invite people to celebrate with you wherever you go.
7. Be a seeker of truth and beauty.
8. Being an adult means that you are financially and emotionally responsible for yourself. It also means that, at critical moments, the adult within you is in charge, not the two year-old.
9. Savor the moment. It is impossible to be bored if you know how to enjoy breathing. Add to that: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling, and you have enough data coming in to keep you excited to be alive. Try to say “Wow!” everyday.
10. Everyone has addictive behaviors that are either under control or out of control. We use these behaviors when we want to escape from our pain; they either blind us, numb us, or distract us, but the relief is only temporary. When you find yourself engaging in these behaviors ask yourself what really needs to be attended to. Summon all your courage and take care of business.
11. Be a hero in your own life. Rescue yourself when you are in danger.
12. Be your own best advocate. Be proactive in your daily affairs.
13. Here are three simple rules that really help: Practice moderation in all things. Easy does it. Keep it simple.
14. People are all that really matters. By learning to appreciate your own inner and outer beauty you are preparing yourself to appreciate it in others. Accentuate the positive and discount the negative.
15. You are either connecting or disconnecting. The more connected you are to those around you the richer is your life.
16. Perfect is a dirty word—do not use it in polite conversation with yourself or others. Actually, you do not have to be perfect since you are already wonderful and that is more than enough.
17. Before acting, consider all your options. Quite often there is another one you have not thought of, yet.
18. At the root of all your emotional problems are fear and anger. When you find the source of these toxins you will free yourself from their grip on you. Do not be afraid to confront your own personal dragon because it is never as big as you imagine it to be.
19. Life is an adventure. When you wake each day you have no idea where you will go, who you will meet, and what challenges will be sent your way. You can either be excited by this prospect or terrified. It is your choice.
20. You are a human being, not a human doing, and do not have to justify your existence. You do not have to win or accomplish anything to validate yourself.
21. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
22. Anyone lucky enough to have owned a cat understands conservation of energy. When your battery does run down, usually in the late afternoon, take a catnap. Be careful not to do or say anything really important when you are tired and hungry.
23. Understand that by asking for help you give someone else the gift of becoming a hero in your life. Practice saying, “I need your help.” It is a very powerful tool.
24. Leave the practice of judging to the courts. Do not judge yourself or others for, when you do so, it is usually done with the intention of finding fault and that could lead to a virtual arrest, trial, conviction, and punishment, none of which are really helpful or healthy. Very often we criticize others for the things we do not like about ourselves, so do not throw any stones. Cut yourself some lack.
25. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Everybody is doing the best they can under the circumstances. If they screw up, or do not live up to your expectations, that is the best they could do. Hopefully, tomorrow they will do better.
26. Continue to develop your sense of perspective. In a universe that ranges from the subatomic to the infinite, how important are you really? How important are your problems? If you see yourself as a grain of sand on a ten-mile beach and your lifespan as the blink of an eye it helps you stay humble. If your life were a TV sitcom how often would the audience be laughing? Try to laugh with them.
27. Get a job you would do even if they did not pay you. Come to work on time and earn your pay.
28. Consider the possibility that we all walk through life in a dream state that is only occasionally punctuated by moments of clarity. Relish those special “Ah, Ha!” moments for that is when true learning takes place.
29. All learning involves pain. The amount of pain is a good measure of the importance of the lesson to be learned. When it really hurts, say to your self, “This is really hard, but what a terrific growth opportunity I have!”
30. The Golden Rule: Treat other people the way you would like them to treat you. Be kind, fair, honest, helpful, and respectful.
Well, that is a lot to remember so I will make it easy for you: