50 Rules to live by: Part 3

Jan 7, 2014 by

50 Rules to live by: Part 3

30. Try to maintain a positive aura

On the surface this sounds like cheesy new age rubbish, but body language and the tone of your voice are incredibly strong signifiers for others.  If you smile frequently and keep the topic of conversation light and playful you’re more likely to be perceived as attractive to be around.  On the flip side, if you’re constantly antagonistic, combative and carry a chip on your shoulder that energy is likely to yield a negative response.

We all go through tough periods in life, or sometimes we’re just having a bad day, nonetheless, try to be conscious when you’re revealing it and not let any of your negative energy seep out for anyone else to feel or see.  Follow the advice Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character, Lancaster Dodd, offers to his drunken moonshine making friend (played by Joaquin Phoenix), in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, when inviting him to his daughter’s wedding:

“My daughters getting married come join us! Leave your worries for a while, they will still be there when you get back, and your memories aren’t invited.”

29. Don’t be petty

Be generous with what you can afford to contribute to a situation.  Give more than you receive and never expect an equivalent in return.  If you can, offer a touch more than what is expected when it’s called for. This idea goes beyond material exchanges; it also includes emotional and intellectual energy.  Learn to concede a moment even if you’re right for the sake of keeping peace.  Some person’s egos won’t allow them to concede, it’s a waste of your energy to try to combat that type of person – let them be petty.  If you are fortunate enough to have a modicum of wealth or knowledge or discretion you can impart on people in your life – do so where it is welcome or needed.

28. Don’t let ego and emotion interfere with sound judgement

Sometimes it’s hard to admit being wrong or we fail at something and look for excuses that relieve us from responsibility.   We create our own sacred impenetrable world view, which often gets cluttered by our own emotion and our ego.  It can interfere with our relationships; our business endeavours our self-image and sometimes our quality of life.  Try to be objective, step out of your own two shoes and attempt to empathize with the parties involved.  You may have been right all along, but you could also be in the wrong and ruin a wonderful opportunity or relationship because you can’t concede a point due to your own ignorance.

27. Keep very few close friends and many acquaintances

Trust and intimacy are vital components to meaningful relationships, but it’s very difficult to establish this with the vast majority of people in your social life.  Most people simply cannot be trusted; some don’t have the ability to be vulnerable or honest enough to be a confidant, while others would rather keep things light at all times.  When it comes to matters of true friendship, don’t share your thoughts with anyone who will just listen, but with those with whom you have a secure and open and honest exchange, bereft of judgement and ulterior motives. Those special and select few should be treasured like a blood brother or sister – they will be there when the party is over and they will stand up for you when no one else will.  They will focus on your positive traits rather than magnifying your weaknesses, but will hold you accountable when you are in the wrong.

Acquaintances will just go with the flow of what’s prevalent and if you’re not in favour to influential members of your peer group they will support the popular opinion for better or worse. Learn to differentiate between your friends and acquaintances.

26.  Read regularly

How many people do you know that read more than a book a month?  A couple? A handful maybe? In a study published last year it was reported that the average Canadian watches 30 hours of TV a week (this doesn’t include social media or internet use). These figures are astounding and revealing of our tendencies in that we prefer to live a life full of distraction rather than one based in the pursuit of knowledge and personal development.  There are exceptions of course and there is plenty of room for educational programming and sometimes we need a healthy distraction.  I get it; I enjoy watching film or a sporting event like the rest of you. But how many of our hours are being wasted a day on meaningless mind-numbing clutter?  Is it any wonder that we are a rapidly growing unhealthy and obese society?  Is it any coincidence that we are experiencing less intimacy with people in our lives?  Is it any coincidence that we know less about the world we live in because we would rather harness our knowledge of the world based on MSN headlines rather than understanding the underlying socio-political-economic issues cultures are faced with?

People might stare at their Facebook account for several hours a day and yet can’t find 30 minutes to read a book or to broaden their intellectual horizons.  Without the ongoing pursuit of knowledge you leave yourself at a major disadvantage in life.   There is so much out there that’s worth exploring, don’t be like the rest of “them” empower yourself by consciously trying to expand your knowledge base and bring what you learn to your peer group.  Hell, you might even encourage your friends to stop playing Angry Birds while their at the dinner table.

25. Always have something to look forward to

We can understand this idea in terms of personal goals or milestones or on a much more granular day-to-day level like having dinner with someone whose company you enjoy or going to yoga.  Personally, I mostly think of it in terms of travel.  We should always have a trip or adventure to look forward to like going to the Kentucky Derby or visiting the Normandy Cemetery and Memorial or travelling to Rio de Janeiro to watch a soccer game at Maracana Stadium.  These are the types of things I look forward to doing (seeing my nephew is pretty cool too). I mean what’s the point otherwise right?

24.  Remember birthdays and significant dates

As I get older I find this rule is getting more important.  Unfortunately, it’s difficult to keep in touch with everyone from your past and birthdays give you an opportunity to reach out, catch up and show that someone is still in your thoughts; even if their married with a richer dude with really amazing hair and a pet unicorn.

Preferably I think you should mail a card, writing letters is a lost art and it holds more meaning than at any other time in history.  It’s a nice touch and as you will learn with a later rule – I like reinforcing details in relationships.  The truth is people like being remembered, even if it is a day that marks another year towards our destiny.  Sure you can send an easy happy birthday text, but if someone is important take another step, pick up the phone or write a nice card and mail it to them even if they live a block away.  A personal touch is always preferable to a virtual one.

23. Try not to repeat yourself  

This may be a revolutionary thought to some, but actually try remembering what information you tell people (at least your family and closest friends)  – so that you’re not always repeating yourself. It’s so incredibly painful sitting through an evening when someone retells the same story for the fortieth time (sometimes with slightly different outcomes or variations). I try to be cognizant of it, sometimes you can’t help it, but for the sake of the company you keep – try not retelling that story you repeat every few weeks about how you once partied with Danny DeVito’s cousin in a bar in Barrie – nobody gives a shit they just want you to shut up so they can talk about something else.  Besides if you remember what people say to you, you can build continuity in your discussions over time.  Isn’t that preferable to repeating yourself over and over?

22. Don’t take yourself too seriously

You have to be able to laugh at yourself.  Have standards and expectations of those around you and for yourself, but seriously bro learn to take a joke.  If someone crosses a line and is mean-spirited than hold them accountable, but otherwise learn to bask in your occasional failure. Take pride that you occasionally mess up and that you are the butt of someone else’s joke.  Heck, even go out of your way to be a source of amusement like being the only one of your friends to sing a song (Crazy Little Thing Called Love) in a karaoke bar while everyone has a good chuckle at your expense.

21. Be both frugal and extravagant

One must enjoy existence, and occasionally we must spend money in order to truly live in a moment, but it can’t be with regularity (unless you’re rich).   You have to first take care of your monetary responsibilities, but you have to find a way to move beyond that when the time is right and your finances are in order (or there’s enough room on your credit card).

If your living just to pay your mortgage so that you can one day sleep comfortably in a paid off home as a retiree, congratulations on wasting your life.  Assuming you live long enough to bear the fruits of your investments, you will be old with some money and you will have wasted your youth accumulating stuff and watching television.

Sometimes you just have to call a close friend, or preferably a lover, and ask them to go with you to Paris for a weekend.  Sometimes you have to do something outside your comfort level which has the potential to be extraordinary. To feel alive, to feel like there’s something beyond our narrow paths that we occasionally get bogged down by. There’s a time to grind and struggle and there’s a time to live, embrace both and actively seek opportunities to experience the latter.

Part I – Rules 50-41

Part II – Rules 40-31

Part IV – Rules 20-11

Part V – Rules 10-6

Part VI – Rules 5-1



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