I put this list together a couple of years ago for another blog, where it has remained, essentially unread. But not forgotten. I’ve been meaning to throw it out there on this platform for a couple of months, and now’s as good a time as any. Here’s the entry, in its entirety:
I’ve begun to compile a list of guidelines to help Jay and Chris navigate life
as they grow older. Obviously, it’s too soon for them to grasp most of these.
But they are the things I’ve learned about how to live well and be a good
person, and I *try* to demonstrate these qualities and make my own life an
example for my sons. Key word: try. I don’t always succeed, which is why one of
the guidelines is to allow yourself only one major regret in life.
Many of these should be familiar. I’m not religious, per se, but religious texts are great
sources of moral platitudes. So, a couple of commandments and the Golden Rule
are here. One of them I ripped off verbatim from Joseph Campbell: Follow your
bliss. Most of these I just picked up over the course of 40 years. I take credit
for inventing none of them. I merely observed what seemed to work or what made
sense over the years and wrote it down. This is by no means a comprehensive
list. Eventually, I’d like to amplify each of these guidelines by listing
examples of each behavior and reasons why they are important. For now, I’d like
to flesh out the list by calling on others to add to it. So, I welcome any and
The List (in no particular order):
1. Be honest with yourself.
2. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
3. Tell the truth.
4. Control your response to your emotions.
5. Act out of compassion.
6. Do everything you do as well as you can.
7. Attend to your own physical and mental health.
8. Allow yourself only one major regret in life.
9. Make a smile your default facial expression.
10. Observe carefully and actively with all your physical senses: Listen, look, touch,
11. Look for and appreciate the humor in everything.
12. Give your love carefully, but give it fully.
13. If a hand is good enough to play, raise; if not, fold. Never merely call. (It’s OK to check sometimes, though.)
15. Say what you mean, but know your reason for saying it; remember that words are powerful and can carry powerful consequences.
16. Listen to criticism, learn from it; never let it discourage you.
17. Some people will never like you, no matter what you do.
18. Know your strengths and cultivate them.
19. Know your responsibilities and live up to them.
20. Embrace your imagination.
21. Embrace your curiosity.
22. Make a plan and stick to it, but make sure the plan is flexible.
23. Know who you are.
24. Like who you are.
25. Never stop learning.
26. Follow your bliss.
27. When negotiating with an adversary, find out what the adversary wants and determine whether you can provide it. Knowing this will allow you to negotiate from strength.
28. Be willing to compromise, but make sure it’s worth it.
29. Learn from everyone you encounter.
30. Have fun.
31. Be kind to animals.
32. Follow instructions.
33. Respect those in authority, especially your parents.
34. Be confident, but don’t mistake hubris for confidence.
35. When traveling, determine how long it will take to get where you’re going and add a half-hour to account for potential delays.