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A Dozen Rules to Live By


When it comes to the big questions, there are far too many platitudes, truisms, cliches and BS. Bookshelves are lined with so much advice, you’d think we would have answered them all by now. So, why do people keep doing it? I couldn’t tell you. Whatever the reason, here’s one more exploration to add to the interminable list. I’ve left God out of this post, so these “rules” should come in handy whether you believe life has meaning, or you think purpose is just our prefrontal cortex’s way of sabotaging our limbic system. And, since donuts come in dozens, it felt fitting that my list just happens to have twelve rules.


  1. Do it! (what are you waiting for?). Life sometimes feels like a dress rehearsal. So much time spent preparing for the future, there’s little time left to actually live life. Habit, routine and inertia have a way of filling the day. Try something new, who knows, you might enjoy it. Don’t overthink it. But, what to do?
  2. Give-in to a passion (don’t phone it in). Ever thought “that would be cool”? Flying a Cessna 172, hunting doubloons in Belize, painting a post-modern mural, learning everything there is to know about orchids, competing in the Iditarod (or a local 5K). People do (and you could too!) The possibilities are endless. Some degree of obsession with something you love is good – so long as it’s not harmful to others or yourself. Which leads me to...
  3. Be smart (stupid is as stupid does). If something is going to lead to bankruptcy, arrest or death, skip it. Don’t have the money? Save-up for that goal. Wanna jump out of a plane? Wear a parachute. Take a chance, but know the risks involved. You can’t ever truly live like there’s no tomorrow, because, well, there likely is – and you’ll have to live with the consequences of your actions. That said, safe is not the same as lazy, so…
  4. Get uncomfortable (stretch yourself). While there’s something to be said for the tried and true, growth requires hard work and a spirit of exploration. Both these activities can make you uncomfortable in the short run, but are rewarding in the long run. Of course, sometimes it’s life that sends discomfort your way, so…
  5. Make the best of it (self-pity is s#!tty). Yeah. Lemons, lemonade and all that Jazz. Whether you see a situation as obstacle or opportunity is up to you. Attitude is a powerful thing, choose to be positive, even if circumstances are suboptimal. You can either see yourself as a victim or you can get creative, move forward and do something about it. That said…
  6. Have fun (why so serious?) We’re not machines – although some folks can give that impression. Crack a joke, do something unexpected, ask that question and take that detour. But, what if I make a mistake or am misunderstood?
  7. People are people (everybody poops). No matter your station in life, we’re all basically the same. Your boss, your peer and your subordinate. Your friend, the hobo and the queen of England are all stuck with the human condition. We all feel, fail and fancy. So treat everyone as a fellow traveler. Your misgivings of disapproval, reprisal and rejection are highly unlikely to be founded. So get out there and be the social animal you were meant to be. Which feeds into...
  8. Get help (don’t go it alone). Admitting your limitations and leaning on others for assistance not only makes things better; it makes others feel helpful and helps build trust. Know your weaknesses and surround yourself with people of all kinds (not just those who look and think like you). Folks with different opinions, perspectives and skills. And when reaching-out…
  9. Be kind (don’t be an a-hole). Family, friends, colleagues, strangers. It takes the same level of effort to be nice as it does to be a jerk. Eventually you reap what you sow, so why not be nice? Fill the world with kindness and the world will reciprocate. Yes, there will be some exceptions, but I’ve found solving for the corner case is wasteful (besides, they’ll get theirs eventually). Then again, if people have poor grammar, you’ve got to draw a line somewhere. Of course you should…
  10. Mean it (don’t fake it). Authenticity shines through. Sure, you can fake it until you make it, but when it comes to interpersonal relations, the best person you can be is yourself (unless, of course, you’re upset, in which case, silence is always an option). Like my mother says, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.
  11. Generosity rules (hoarding is for losers). Give like it’s going out of fashion. Give your time. Give a helping hand. Give your advice. Give your opinion. Give a smile. And, yes, give money. Don’t fret too much as to whether the beneficiary is worthy. Of course, don’t give to causes you know to be evil (and due diligence is good when possible), but when it comes to people, give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, the burden of making good use of your donation is on the recipient. And finally…  
  12. Remember the donuts (duh!). Sometimes it’s the little things that bring the biggest joy. It’s so easy to skip them too! But, making a couple of minutes here and there can be oh-so rewarding.


Life is good (it’s certainly better than the alternative). So grab a donut and go live it!

Happy Friday!

P.S. The long note was a test. If you actually got this far, please reply with the code word “mischief managed”. In response I will smile approvingly 😊.


Unknown said…
Mischief managed.
Mischief managed (I want a damn donut!)

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