Thursday, April 24, 2008

21 Suggestions

Stolen from here. I agree with every one of these about 8,000 percent. Here's why:

1)Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.

When I was 18, my high school boyfriend asked me to marry him. Twice. I freaked out both times. The first time, I deflected the question entirely. The second time, I had the guts to say no. When your whole body is screaming "no!" it's time to pull anchor.

I split from him, got three degrees, traveled around the world, lived abroad, signed a book contract, and got a cushy job as a copywriter.

Last I heard, he was married to another girl we went to school with, still in the Marines while she worked a data entry job. During their last argument, one of them put a bullet hole through the roof of their house in the ghetto-ass-end of Vancouver, WA where we grew up. Hearing about this didn't surprise me.

There's a reason I've been incredibly picky about my partners since, and why I've avoided mention of marriage in all but one of my relationships since. Picking the right partner is crucial. Picking no partner, in my opinion, is a far better bet than picking the wrong partner.

Too much hinges on it.

2) Work at something you enjoy and that's worthy of your time and talent.

"I want to be a writer, yo!"

Keep pushing. You get there. Sometimes, through sheer luck alone. But you get there. And trust me: it beats being a fucking secretary.

3) Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

It's the "Cheerfully" part that I'm still working on. When I give, it tends to be in either sheer terror or misconstrued as gruff indifference because I like to pass it off like it's really no big deal.

But selfless giving - when and if you ever get there - is incredibly rewarding, if done in the proper amounts (watch out for folks who take advantage). You learn a fuck of a lot about yourself. Sometimes you learn you're not good at it.

So, you try harder.

4) Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.

I'm not sure when this happened. I always figured myself for a pessimist. But you know what? I'm not. I'll belt out "Always look on the bright side of life" in a crowded theater. I'll bend rules. I'll laugh out loud - really loud - and not care who looks, or who stares.

Life is too short to care about what other people think. I live out loud. The folks who disapprove the most are the ones too terrified to do the same.

5) Be forgiving of yourself and others.

We all lose far too much time hating ourselves, and wishing other people would ask for forgiveness. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes you just have to do it.

I spent a long time hating everything about myself. It wasn't until I realized that being a rhino - though totally different from being a unicorn - was still a valid, powerful, sort of thing to be. And the ludicrous idea of trying to be something I'm not... trying to change a powerful person into a something so against its nature... well, now it makes me laugh.

But I still have to keep the picture of the rhino on my desk at work. To remind me.

6) Be generous.

When you're up, somebody else is down. When you're down, somebody else is up. When I have money to spare, I'm generous to a fault. When the rug's pulled out from underneath me... I had incredibly generous friends to help me get my shit together again. And you can bet that when and if they ever need me, I'll be there.

It's worth every moment.

7) Have a grateful heart.

Because if you're not grateful, who will be? And then, what's the point?

8) Persistence, persistence, persistence.

Hundreds of rejections, 11 books, 12 years. Chronic illness. Credit card debt. Job layoffs. Fall down seven times. Get up eight. Need I say more?

9) Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.

Because someday, you may want to trade off world traveling for a couple years for an actual house.

I'm working on it.

10) Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.

Kindness and respect cost you nothing.

11) Commit yourself to constant improvement.

And forgive yourself when you fall short. It's been a rough couple weeks of rest and adjustment. But you just get back to it again. It's a hilly road, but a road nonetheless.

12) Commit yourself to quality.

If you don't want people to know you wrote it, you probably shouldn't be writing it.

13) Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.

Relationships. Yeah. That thing I still need to work on.

You'll note, however, that I'm still on speaking terms with my last two exes. That's incredibly important to me. That took a lot of strength and grown-up resolve to accomplish on my end, emotionally.

Cultivating friendships, too, is difficult for me... I don't know that I'm one of those people who will ever have a lot of friends, but the ones I have, yeah, I need to work harder at keeping them.

Bad at relationships.

14) Be loyal.

There's no reason not to be.

15) Be honest.

Not just with other people, but with yourself. Know yourself. Stop bullshitting yourself. The sooner you stop telling yourself bullshit lies and excuses about why and how you live your life, the sooner you can start building the life you really want.

16) Be a self-starter.

Some days, the only one who's going to kick your ass is you.

17) Be decisive even if it means you'll sometimes be wrong.

No decision is still a decision. If you're going to fuck up, fuck up big. Cause there's always going to be a 50/50 chance that your risk pays off. No decision pretty much guarantees failure and/or complacency, and - above all - fosters a sense of victimization. "Oh, poor me! Things just *happen* to me!"

Not if you're the one driving.

18) Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.

If you've been blessed enough to be born into privilege, you've got nobody to blame but yourself. And I count myself in that privileged group. I was raised white and middle class. I have an education. I have no one to blame for my success or failure but me.

My chronic illness is one that's manageable (more or less). And the person responsible for managing it is me.

Life is what you do with what's been done to you.

19)Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.

And you'll have a lot of great stories.

I've done a lot. I don't regret a single minute of it.

20) Take good care of those you love.

Even if they don't love you back.

21) Don't do anything that wouldn't make your Mom proud.

Lucky for me, I have a pretty cool mom.

3 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Travis said...

yeah those sound like good ideas lol

Amie Stuart said...

Wow what a great post!!!!

I totally married the wrong person, divorced him 11 years ago and never looked back. Okay once for twenty minutes but that was it.

12 made me laugh. I got page proofs on Friday and I'm under deadline on another book and I told my son I had to read through them (I'll make time but I briefly wigged out). Son asked why I had to read them and I told him to make sure there were no mistakes. He said, "Don't read them." I'm sure he meant, if I didn't have time but I just looked at him in shock (okay he's 14). I'm so incredibly anal about anything that has my name on it that it's just not funny.

Caryn said...

That was wonderful. I had read that list before, or something similar, but reading the commentary, too, encouraged me to slow down and absorb each lesson. I needed reminders for a few of these.