It’s your life: light it up, have fun and enjoy it
COMMONNESS - Bong R. Osorio (The Philippine Star) - April 30, 2018 - 12:00am

Every action you make has an effect, and that effect can be positive or detrimental. Be on the side of the angels, not of the beasts.

The personal code for a better, happier, more successful kind of life, as listed in Richard Templar’s international bestseller, Rules of Life, includes universal, apparent and basic behavior. They are as old as old can be, commonsensical and nothing you don’t already know. It’s not an eye opener, but simply a refreshing aide memoir on doing the right thing, knowing what is important, shrugging off adversity, and enjoying a happier, calmer and more fulfilling existence. Here’s my choice of 20 from the author’s 116:

• Wisdom isn’t about not making mistakes, but about learning to escape afterwards with your dignity and sanity intact. You’ll get older but not necessarily wiser. Be kind to yourself when you do muck things up. Be forgiving and accept that it’s all part of that growing-older-but-no-wiser routine.

• To know what counts and what doesn’t, you must know what you are dedicating your life to. There are, of course, no right or wrong answers to this one because it’s a very personal choice, but it’s useful to have an answer, rather than not really knowing. It’s a yardstick to measure how you’re doing, what you’re doing and where you’re going.

• You can never be perfect. Accept yourself.  Start with what you’ve got and who you are and then you can only make a choice, each day, to strive for better. And that’s all you can ask of yourself — to make that choice, to be awake and aware, ready to do the right thing. And accept that some days you aren’t going to make it.

• You interact with a whole host of people every day, and a little politeness must be a good thing. Always maintain good manners. They cost nothing and yet can generate so much goodwill and make everyone’s life that much more pleasant.

• Every action you make has an effect. It could be on your family, the people around you, society, and the world in general. And that effect can be positive or detrimental — it’s usually your choice. Be on the side of the angels, not of the beasts.

• Bad people don’t feel guilty. They are too busy being bad. Good people feel guilty because they are good and they feel. They have done wrong, let somebody down, made a mistake, or screwed up somewhere. Good people have a conscience. Bad people don’t. If you do feel guilty, that’s a good sign. It shows you are on the right track. But you should know how to deal with it, because guilt is a terribly selfish emotion. It is wasteful and pointless.  

• The only definite influence you have is over yourself. The only thing you can really, really change is exactly that — yourself. Wonderful. What an opportunity to do some good. What a chance to make a real contribution. Begin with yourself and let it spread outwards. Change what you can change, let go of the rest.

• Dress like today is important. Today is the only day you’ve got that has some reality to it. Why wouldn’t you treat it as important? It is. So, dress like it matters — you’re not talking formal here, you don’t have to be buttoned up and uncomfortable. Just dress as if it matters.

• A belief system must be that — a belief.  It is what you think the world is all about.  It’s what you believe will happen to you after you die. It’s what or who you pray to when the night is dark and you are in trouble. You don’t have to prove it to anyone else, even justify it, convert anyone else to it, or preach it to the world in general.

• Life is for living, enjoying the sunshine, and the big things. Have a sense of humor. As you struggle through this life — and it can be a struggle — you need to keep a sense of proportion about it. What you do and what you take seriously can often be so far removed from what it is all about that it is laughable.

• Most of the world’s problems can be laid firmly at the feet of assumptions. Learn to ask questions of yourself constantly. Ask why you think you’re right or wrong. Ask yourself why you’re doing certain things, want other things, follow a course of action. Question yourself firmly and rigorously because maybe there isn’t anyone else doing it. And you need it. It keeps you from assuming you know what’s best for yourself.

• It’s OK to feel big emotions. Just because you are feeling big emotions doesn’t mean you are out of control. You can be quite emotional and still be in charge of what you are expressing. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel stuff — and feel it big time. It is natural and you shouldn’t even make any attempt to stifle it. Of course, you can make sure it is let out at an appropriate time and place, but that is within your control.

• You’ll never understand everything. People will behave oddly and you won’t understand why. Things will go unexpectedly wrong — or right — and it won’t make sense. Spend all your time desperately trying to work it all out and you’ll drive yourself crazy… People don’t always make sense. Life doesn’t always make sense. Let it go and discover the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’ll never understand everything. Sometimes it just is.

• Home is where you belong. It is your base, a place where you feel comfortable, secure, loved, restored and trusted. Base is where you feel strong and in control. It is anywhere you can kick your shoes off, metaphorically and physically, and rest your head safe in the knowledge you’ll be looked after. It is going back to where you dreamed it all, planned it all out. It is where you were before you got lost. Remember to touch base.

• You are not in charge. No matter how much you want to be, no matter how much you think you are, no matter how much you deserve to be. Once you get your head around the wonderful concept that you are here to enjoy and not here to run things, then you are free to sit in the sunshine a bit more often, take time off.

• Sometimes you should just walk away. You hate to fail, hate to give up, hate to give in. You love the challenge of life and want to keep on until whatever you are trying to “win” has been overcome, vanquished, beaten, won. But sometimes it just won’t happen, and you need to learn to recognize those moments, learn how to philosophically shrug and walk away with your pride intact and your dignity high. Sometimes you really want to do something, but it is unrealistic. Instead of knocking yourself out, cultivate the art of knowing when to walk away, and you’ll find it a lot less stressful. If it’s dead, don’t go digging it up every five minutes to check if there’s a pulse. It’s dead; walk away.

• If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. When asked your opinion of someone, something, somewhere, you need to find something good to say, something flattering and positive. You need to bite your tongue more and say good things more often.

• Accepting the differences, embracing what you have in common. Strip away the layers and you’re human — frightened, vulnerable, trying to make some sort of sense out of your life. If you focus on the differences and make a big deal out of them, you risk losing the input and contribution of somebody who can help to lighten your load and make the journey more fun.

• When there is trouble afoot, it’s talking that will get you out of it. Keep on talking. When you are going through bad patches, it is talking it out that will see you through. When you are optimistic and excited, it is talking that will help your partner share it. If you aren’t talking there is something wrong. If you aren’t talking, what are you doing? Talking helps you understand, listen, share, communicate.

• You can work for the glory of humankind or you can try to bring it all crashing down. Be for the glory, not the degradation.  Anything that makes you more what you are, makes you strive for perfection, improves you, challenges you, excites you in a good way, makes you rise above your base nature and brings you out into the sunshine is for the glory.

• If you fear competition, what you really fear is your own incompetence. This is in-your-face commentary with a lot of truth behind it.

When life fails you and you need borrowed wisdom to buoy you up, Templar’s self-help can help bring you out of the dark into the light.

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Email bongosorio@gmail.com. Thank you for communicating.

RICHARD TEMPLAR THE RULES OF LIFE
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