“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” – Will Rogers
Some two-thirds of twenty year olds are liberals. By the time they are sixty, half of them will become conservatives. Many of us hitting sixty look back at our lives and say, “If I knew then what I know now, I would have made better choices and my life would have been very different.”
So I compiled this list of the ten most important things I have learned over the years that have made a great difference in how I am making my life better. From the choices I make to how I deal with people. Who we are when we’re alone, and how we interact with others, is all that matters in life.
- Confidence is all you need. The greatest hindrance to fulfilling your life is fear. Fear of failure, fear of mockery, and fear of success. Having confidence in yourself requires that you have the intelligence, experience, and morality to back it up. Being confident while being ignorant is simply arrogance, but if you are confident in yourself, your knowledge, and your skills, then you will succeed in anything to which you apply your hand.
- Most people lie most of the time. Understanding the ego of others is paramount in understanding people, and that most people do not have strong morals or developed maturity, so they lie to make themselves appear better and others appear worse. Understanding the old adage, “Take it with a grain of salt,” is realizing that, unless there is proof, you should take no one’s word for granted. Lying about others is what gossip mongers do best.
- Blatant honesty is not a good character trait. Everyone hears that “honesty is the best policy.” But that doesn’t mean you should tell the truth about everything to everyone. There are many things that are nobody else’s business, and many of them are things that they will use against you in gossip. There is a reason the 5th Amendment is in the Constitution. That reason exists in everything you say, and for the naïve it’s a hard lesson to learn what not to say.
- Life is more important than games. Entertainment and play is very important to us all. We work for our prosperity so we can have leisure to play. Some people have careers playing; athletes, actors, musicians, dancers, and writers. But unless one is making money from one’s play, it must not consume a person to the point of neglecting the necessities of life. Gaming, especially with computers, can easily become an obsession and cause one to neglect their responsibilities. Even if one does what is necessary, there is always something or someone that may be neglected in pursuit of games. It is important to have a balance between gaming and living.
- The world does not function in absolutes, but most people think that way. Liberals say morality is ‘gray’ but pass judgment in black and white. Everyone is prejudiced, but only a few are bigoted. Conservatives say morality is black and white and is only gray until you understand it. In the same way, liberals are bigots when it comes to conservatives or any group they dislike, condemning everyone, while conservatives believe in judging each person on their own merits. While prejudice may lead to bigotry, the righteous person will avoid that trap.
- People misinterpret everything you say, and you shouldn’t return the favor. Communication is a three-fold process. Something is said, that thing is interpreted, and the interpreter gives feedback to the speaker. This helps the speaker to clarify what they said. Without back and forth communication, something said poorly can lead to greater problems, and feedback that is ignored results in the same.
- Deal in what’s real. This is part of both dealing with dishonest people and with games. Life is what’s real, truth is what’s real. Don’t let fantasies distract you or lies deceive you. Dreaming and making goals is one thing, but believing in a fantasy world or allowing a conman to deceive you leaves no one but yourself to blame, which leads to the last thing.
- Be responsible for your own actions. Don’t blame others for your mistakes, don’t take credit for their successes, and most importantly, don’t make excuses or lie when you do wrong and someone calls you out on it. When you examine your life and find you are unhappy, no one is responsible for your failures in life except the person in the mirror. If you don’t want to be unhappy, make better choices and choose to enjoy what you do have rather than lament what you do not.
- Life is pain. Pain is what shapes us. It is not the good times that molds our character, but how we deal with adversity. Whether it makes us or breaks us, turns us to evil or turns us to God is what matters most. Whether we choose to fight evil and resist temptation or succumb to it makes all the difference in how we live and how our lives turn out. Who we are is more evident to ourselves when we are alone. What we do when no one is watching, what we say when no one can hear is more revealing of the person we are inside.
- Never be afraid to try. We are all born with the desire to strive for success. But fear of failure will keep us from even making the attempt. “If you want to win the game, you have to step up to the plate and swing at the ball.” Practice makes perfect is an axiom of achieving anything. Nobody is born an expert. It takes hard work and dedication. Winners never quit. All of these are rules by which to live your life if you are going to be the best that you can be. So many of us never achieve what we could because we are afraid of failure. Never betting more than you can afford to lose does not mean never betting, because if you don’t take the chance, you can’t win.
A good way to look at ourselves is to consider the Seven Deadly Sins and the Three Virtues and rank them in order. The Boy Scout Oath and Law are also good lists to honestly assess what traits are your strongest down to your weakest. Where each trait falls on your list is one of the best ways to understand yourself and what needs work to be the person you want to be.