There’s something about “rules to live by” that’s kind of comforting.
It’s the kind of thing that you can think, “no matter how screwed up my life gets… I can keep it in check, and stay in control as long as I follow these proven rules”. I like them in the same way that I like songs that directly say in the lyrics, “Everything is gonna be alright”. Maybe it’s a comforting yet neurotic, anal-retentive thing… who knows?
It seems like good sense to follow the advice from Ghostbusters… “Never get involved with possessed people.” (Actually, that’s more of a guideline than a rule) Sure, there’s going to be occasions where the “guidelines” aren’t going to be followed… but at least we come out of those situations believing that particular one more than ever.
And besides, when someone says, “Never play 3-card-Monte against a cigar-smoking Albanian Transvestite in Tijuana during Lent”… you know there’s a good story behind that. Not to mention that it probably IS good advice…
But all the rules that we come up with have stories behind them. Maybe not overly-exciting stories… or even particularly long ones. (Though when someone asks for an explanation, saying “It’s a long story” is always an impressive-sounding answer.) A few of the ones that I like, aren’t originally mine. They may be a saying that I’ve read in a book, maybe heard an impressive “long” story from someone else, or from just plain sitting and thinking. Some rules could be very specific… so, if it doesn’t apply to you… you don’t need to bother remembering it.
Probably the only magazine I read on a regular basis is Men’s Health, and most months, they have a recurring feature that is some kind of a list… “25 things you should never regret” or “30 excuses to get rid of”. I often see small snippets of good advice in there that I figure can apply to my own life… and I try to.
Naturally, it’s boring to live your whole life following rules. Where’s the flexibility? Where’s the spontaneity? That’s why I try to keep my personal rules a bit on the open side… I don’t like to include ones that might restrict a little of the fun in life. Hopefully, the ones I have are honestly good guidelines for improving oneself… but still allowing for things like adventure and a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude. Besides… since I take the Ghostbusters approach and call them “guidelines”… it’s okay to break them every now and then, should the situation apply. Cause there will ALWAYS be exceptions to every rule.
So here are some of MY guidelines to live by:
Never underestimate a cross-eyed stripper.
Never flex for anyone older than 6.
Don’t trust your eyes, unless you know where to look.
Don’t always dismiss a message because of the source.
Be careful when sharing information on “How To Be Amazing”. Not everyone wants to know.
There is no such thing as Constructive Criticism.
Just because someone doesn’t seem “mysterious”… doesn’t mean there’s no mystery.
“Deep” people… rarely are.
Every mistake and embarrassment seemed like a good idea at the time.
“Freedom” does not absolve one of responsibility or consequences.
When writing fiction… be honest.
When writing reality… embellish only a tad.
When writing opinions… don’t embellish at all.
Facts are realistically honest.
Metaphors are emotionally honest.
Don’t blame someone for being ignorant… Blame them for wanting to remain that way.
You are what you do when it counts. (this one is my personal motto… I got it from the book Armor, by John Steakley)
I hope to add to this list in the coming years.
Some links to a few other lists that I’ve found:
Niven’s Laws (from Sci-Fi author Larry Niven)
The Pentabarf of Discordianism (pointed to me by my friend SeeSee)
The 16 Rules of Bob Parsons – founder and CEO of GoDaddy.com
So how about you? What are some of YOUR “rules to live by”?