In many ways I feel blessed.
I’m me. Why else not. I’m pretty awesome and that’s not trying to sound cocky or snide.
I was fortunate enough to be born into middle class family in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. This provided me with the opportunity to have both urban metropolises of New York and Philadelphia at my proverbial doorsteps along with a wide range of ethnicities, religions, social strata, educations and a vast array of other social experiences scattered through the vagabond infrastructures of Boston to Washington DC. I was lucky enough to attend good public schools filled with excellent teachers and stimulating curriculum that drove at critical thinking. I reaped the benefit of a range of extra curricular activities to fill my adolescent curiosity, fostering my education well beyond the classroom and allowing my social growth to constantly be challenged by different and diverse peer groups. They included the arts and music and sports in equal doses as well as philosophical (well, at the time religious) and intellectual groups all of which followed me into my collegiate and post-graduate years. I had great parents and a family support system that was second to none in fostering my interests and extending my identity and challenging me to be the best me I could be.
What I obtained wasn’t just degrees and certifications, awards and badges, quality memories and family bonds and lifelong friends. It was a blueprint for following my heart and finding sustainable happiness.
“what if I wind up as some vegetable lying on the couch, then my important work will never be realized” – Matt Greoning via Homer J. Simpson
I am in no way a social scientist, anthropologist or have any philosophical background in which to draw my assumptions on how to lead a great life. What I do have is the thirty something years of my own experience living my life in which to draw a few rules from. Some ways to not end up lying on my death bed at some indeterminate point in the future wondering if I lived a fulfilling life, or worse breaking down at middle age in some way that is self-destructive to everything I’ve enjoyed to this point.
Here’s ten quick concepts and a few elaborations on how I got here:
A Placid Brain is a Flaccid Brain, never, ever stop challenging your intellectual self
Listen to Music, learn it if you can
Say what you mean and mean what you say
Always Try Everything, you never know what might pleasantly surprise you
Use Good Manners, Say Please & Thank You
Laugh Often, but not too often anyone’s expense
Love & Allow Yourself to be Loved
See the World, or at least more than the town next-door
If someone is smart enough to write it, you should be smart enough to read it
Bond with an animal and become familiar with the interconnectedness of all life
In all of my travels, and really don’t read more into that than there is, I’ve figured out what makes me happy and thus, what makes positive things happen in my life. I’m sure for many people they seem pretty self explanatory, for others they might seem somewhat non-applicable (though, I implore you to use a more open mind, they’re all applicable) and for even another group they’re going to seem quite trivial and not concrete enough to do much with.
However, I am assure you, they are all inter-related, intertwined ideas that require you to visit and re-visit who you are and challenge who you believe yourself to be day-in and day-out the way you once did as a child.
Take for example, A Placid Brain is a Flaccid Brain goes beyond the general principle of learning to encouraging you to challenge your intellectual self by listening to lots of music and learning how to perform it, seeing the world and living within the lives of others, reading and finding new and different points of view to grow from, and in general always try everything and learn from those experiences as well as drawing from the macro-identity you can draw from conservationist efforts or just simple responsible pet ownership
Another way to look at it is use good manners as it goes beyond please and thank you and is intertwined with laughing but not at people’s expense which is a show of respect, which leads into loving one’s self which then allows others to love you too in a show of mutual adoration, which can draw extensively from the bonding with your own pet as a first source of love.
I know not everyone is so fortunate. Not everyone has these experiences, comes to these conclusions or is lucky enough to have an understanding of these deeper concepts while they try and keep their heads above water. I appreciate living paycheck-to-paycheck, going through a painful divorce, dealing with physical limitations and so many other challenges I faced. They were anything but trivial at the time but I won’t assume they were debilitating by any stretch, they all could have gone far worse and I am infinitely grateful none of them were. It was from overcoming them in their own little ways that actually forced me to understand the ‘rules’ I came up with that sustain the many positives I now embrace. At my age, I need to embrace the positives, ya know!