Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
August 31, 2008
Ten principles that serve well as a guide for living
Sometime ago I jotted down some of the maxims or sayings by which I have tried to live my life. Then I cut the list down to my top ten. These I decided to call the ten guiding principles of my life. As I glance back over my shoulder, I realize these “proverbs” have guided me well.
These principles are not new or profound. Some of them no doubt you have also chosen to live by. As you mull them over, know that I shall be pleased if you find one or two which might be helpful in your own life. Here they are:
One, live your life in chapters. The rings in a tree tell the story of that tree. Each ring is a chapter of sorts. In reading a book I often look ahead to find out the length of the chapter I am reading. In life we all have times of transition, pain, and change. We cannot always choose the circumstances of our lives, but we can choose to put down a period and conclude some experience. We can put an end to one thing and begin something new. We may have a chapter of discouragement, but we can decide that it is over and begin a new chapter of celebration.
Two, make progress, not perfection, your goal. Refuse to burden yourself with the demand for perfection in everything. Instead, aim to make a little progress each day, and be at peace about your imperfections. Living as a "perfectionist" is not good for yourself, your family, or your friends. Perfectionism will not only drive your friends away, it will drive you nuts.
Three, learn to celebrate "excellent" mistakes. You will make mistakes; we all do. But when you make one, especially a big one, recognize it as being so excellent that you want to remember not to make it again. To “celebrate it” means to inject a little humor into your guilt so that you can laugh at yourself and invite others to laugh with you. Such celebration helps you emerge as the victor instead of the victim.
Four, eliminate "if only" from your vocabulary. When we indulge in the use of "if onlys," we are simply dodging our responsibility for a problem. Decide never again to begin a sentence with "if only." Substitute the word, "because." Here’s an example: "Because I am in charge of my life, I will not resort to whining or self-pity. I made a mistake but I will do better next time.”
Five, refuse to blame other people for your problems. How you react to what other people do and say is more important than what they do and say. You cannot control what other people do; you can decide how you will respond to their behavior. Accept the fact that sometimes you are your own biggest problem, so give other people a break and work on yourself. You are your own worst enemy. Accept that and life will get easier.
Six, accept the imperfections of other people. This will help you not to blame them when things go wrong. Take for granted what is obvious. Other people are like you and me; sometimes then will say things that are insensitive and stupid. Do others the same favor you do for yourself: accept the fact that we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. When others do not measure up to your expectations, remember this and relax. It is perfectly alright to be wrong sometimes.
Seven, live no day without laughter. Humor is so important that we must look for it constantly. If you are having a really bad day, find something funny you can share with others to get a good laugh. Here is a “good laugh” for today:
A grandmother was sick and in bed. Her five-year-old grandson fixed her a cup of coffee. It tasted awful but she forced it down because she loved the boy. As she was sipping the last of the cup, she noticed two little green plastic soldiers in the bottom of her cup. "Why on earth are these things in my coffee," she asked, exasperated. "You know, grandmother," he said, "it’s like on TV -- ‘the best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup!’ "
Eight, smile and move on when people rain on your parade. There is always somebody around who feels compelled to put a damper on anything you say. Explain that you bought something at a bargain and someone will say that you paid far too much for it. In this situation your best response is a smile. Move on and forget it. Don’t let the jerk in the crowd spoil your fun -- or your attitude.
Nine, if you are prone to fuss a lot, stop complaining. It is a choice you can make so do it. Think about this: nobody ever wakes up in the morning and says, "Boy, I sure hope I run into somebody today who is complaining." People would rather not be around you if you are constantly fussing about everything. So do yourself a big favor and stop fussing so much. You will enjoy life more and you will be more fun to live with.
Ten, when the bottom falls out of your life, pray for spring. Remember that winter doesn’t last forever. Bad times, winter times, come to us all. But things have a way of changing, like the seasons of the year. When it is wintertime in your life, hang on, for spring will come!
So there you have it -- ten principles that can help you live well and squeeze more joy out of every day. They are not easy principles to live by, but I know they can help because daily they are helping me. + + +