Getting older, I really hope I’m getting wiser. But some recent events have made me take a look at my own views, prejudices, and behaviors, in an attempt to codify things a bit better. Another case of “simplify, simplify, simplify” at work here…
Brian’s Rules for Life
Be kind as often as possible. Most of us know what WE have been through, but not what others have endured on their own journeys. It pays dividends to be nice to people on general principle, which then hopefully makes other people be nicer to you in return. Or perhaps nicer to other people down the line. One kind deed can create a landslide of good.
But, as Dalton (Patrick Swayze) says in the movie Road House, be nice until it’s time not to be nice. Sure, you can be kind to everybody, but at some point you have to stand up for yourself and others to say that enough is enough. That is simpler than it sounds and downright impossible to consider in many circumstances. Fear is a powerful motivator to avoid conflict. However, bravery is acting despite that fear. Is it worth fighting for? Then fight if kindness and words won’t do the job. (This is something I struggle with because I’m severely conflict-averse.)
Listen more than you speak. If you do it right, you’ll know many things you may not wish to. If you listen, truly listen, complete strangers will tell you their life stories and you’ll begin to piece together some of the interesting tales that surround you. As a writer, I’m always watching and listening, and sometimes I even contribute — but mostly I ask questions and listen to the answers, filing things away to form a more complete picture of the world.
Accept the consequences for your actions. Good and bad. (I have a harder time accepting praise than accepting my failures. That’s still a challenge.)
But guess what? You’re going to screw up. I screw up all the time, but I also try to fix it. And sometimes trying to fix it makes it worse, but at least you’re acknowledging the issue in the first place. Some things can’t be fixed. That’s a hard truth. And the price for screwing up may be huge. But the price for hiding, running, or ignoring the consequences ALSO has consequences, so get ahead of it if you can.
Along those same lines, tell the truth as best you can. You may want to spare someone’s feelings from facts that may be difficult to accept, but if you remember to be kind, truth is its own kindness. Because lies, like screw-ups, have consequences. And just from a practical standpoint, it’s easier to remember one story than to make up and try to remember a bunch of lies. (BTW, telling the truth goes doubly for yourself. Lying to yourself is never a good option.)
Karma’s a bitch. Sorry Karma. Ultimately I believe that you reap what you sow, so pay the consequences as quickly as possible or they may gather interest and spiral even further out of control. Build a life on a bed of lies and I think you’ll pay for it in the end. Be good and kind to yourself and others and hopefully that comes back in unexpected ways down the line.
Through it all, remember to take time for yourself and be kind to yourself. This is a hard one for me because I try to do what I can for those I love, usually at my own expense. It feels selfish to do otherwise, but if you don’t do it, you will find that your well of energy to help others may hit bottom.
In a perfect world, we would all work together. I would help you. You would help me. We would find fulfilling tasks to fill our time doing things we were passionate about and care deeply for.
Ours is not a perfect world. We can’t change that. But we can control our own actions and serve as good examples for others to follow, hoping that we become the change we want to see in the world.
We are not perfect. Our world is not perfect. And we are stronger for the differences and flaws we have as a community. But if we are kind to one another, try to do the right thing, and remember to be kind to ourselves along the way, we’d go a long way towards making it a better world to live in, imperfections and all.