Following on from my last post entitled “8 Life lessons from a not quite 40 year old” here are some more rules and philosophies I live my life by:
- Make an effort to know more about the world today than you knew yesterday
I honestly believe that the more we learn, the more we do, the greater the world around us becomes. This is why I have always taken on an additional challenge to myself every year.
Whether it is through undertaking a course, picking up a new hobby, researching a topic I am ignorant of or a challenging project … I am continuously attempting to stretch out my skills and abilities, my understanding and my knowledge.
I believe everybody should take on this basic attitude. Your mind is like any other part of your body — it requires just as much exercise, practice and discipline as any other muscle or skill you wish to develop.
- The power of knowledge is the illumination it brings
You don’t know what you don’t know. Ignorance is not stupidity, but it is a set of blinkers. The only way to see and understand more, is to be exposed to more. Science, art, humanities, politics, philosophy … each subject uncovers a new set of shadows, and each illumination expands to allow your mind to think new thoughts.
- Actively try and lessen the suffering of others.
There is rarely (if ever) any reward in enforcing, promoting or extending the suffering of others. So why be part of that? I never see any compelling reason for any of the acts of harm or hate others inflict, but can tell you that each individual act of compassion, each individual act of kindness and each individual act of simple attention and acknowledgement has provided a warm and loving spark. Every. Single. Time.
- The promise of an external reward - current, belated or in some eternal afterlife - is no reason to commit an act - good or otherwise.
I honestly believe that Good acts are a reward in themselves. Doing something for the recognition of others, for the collection of “karmic points” is misguided. Surely, if you are performing an act to check of an item on the list then you are no different than those who think that paying a priest will get them a free ticket to the pearly gates. Even If you believe in that sort of reward system, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count.
- Do well by doing good.
It really is that simple.
- Be honest with yourself about how you feel about someone.
In the words of Michelle (inthefade): If you ever have even an ounce of doubt about a relationship, don’t think a commitment will ever erase that doubt. A ring does nothing to make the lingering voices in your head shut up and a marriage license does nothing to quell the doubts. Explore those doubts. Be honest with yourself and everyone else about them.
- Have the courage to live a life true to yourself - not the life others expect of you
I speak of this as much from regret as experience. Look back on your life - regardless of your current age - and ask yourself: how many dreams have you fulfilled? How many choices have you made? How many choices have you avoided? How many opportunities have you grasped and how many have you squandered? See also the “Don’t Settle” and “Don’t Leap” of my previous piece.
- Work Hard, but Play Harder.
Don’t spend your life on lives on the treadmill of a work existence. Work is not your life. Your friends and family are. Missing parties, birthdays, anniversaries – these are not things you can re-schedule. You can’t re-do them “in lieu” and you can never make up for them with a Tax bonus. It is easier to do without a new TV than without an extra hug from your significant other.
- Recognise the gold that is in friendship
Throughout our lives, we meet so many people. There are some that are beyond precious. Try and recognise them. Make an effort to keep them alive. We all get caught up in our own lives and it is so easy to then let friendships slip We will regret not giving friendships and loved ones the time and effort that they deserve. Remember that everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
- Breath deep and take courage - express your feelings and share your thoughts
The only thing one will regret more than being a workaholic, is being the quiet one who settled for a mediocre existence because what they thought and what was important to them was kept to themselves. Don’t let illnesses relating to bitterness or resentment be the cause of your lying on that deathbed.
- Health brings a freedom you do not realise you possess … until you no longer have it
Look after yourself. The time spent in looking after your health is an investment in the future and in the ability to accomplish things you want to achieve.