My children, these are the rules for a well lived life. First, the greatest from which all other rules flow:
When someone invites you to their home for a dinner, a night, a weekend, you bring wine and the amount of wine should be commensurate with the amount of hospitality you’re receiving.
Of course, bringing wine doesn’t always mean actually bringing wine.
If you are spending a weekend at an alcoholic’s ski house, then yes, bringing wine is probably a shit gift. Wine is also more an adult type of thing to bring. If you bring wine to your next sleepover, I’m probably going to get calls. Later in your life, if you’re the clown who brings wine to a keg party, you’ll bring shame upon our family.
So, a little judgement is called for but the point is that you should bring something when someone invites you to their home. And no, bringing your charming personality does not count. While I adore your poop jokes, most people are going to need a box of cupcakes to go with them.
There are many truths that will seem obvious to you and yet will be strange and foreign to others. Always remember that the reverse is also true. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t hold strong beliefs, but you should always hold those beliefs up to what you see in the world. Do not have expectations for the world to bend to or even care about your beliefs because once you go looking for something, it’s very hard to see anything else.
Instead, try your beliefs out.
See if they stand up. Listen to other people. See if their beliefs are worth exploring for yourself. Never try to force your beliefs on others. What they believe is their business. I recognize the irony in saying that and then advising you on what to believe. Never, ever believe in something just because someone else told you it’s true, even me.
The exception here is whether Han Solo shot first (he did). Believing otherwise is not only incorrect but morally bankrupt as I told you in the first thing I wrote for this site.
Exercise is not a hobby. We’ve evolved as active creatures and every part of your mind, body and soul will be better if you push yourself physically on a regular basis.
You do not pop your god damned collar. Only psychopaths wear socks to bed. In your life you will come across people who believe cats are better than dogs. There is no reasoning with such people.
Read. Read a lot. Read as much as you can. Reading can be an escape when you need it without numbing your identity like other entertainment can. It reminds you that there are so many lives out there. So many possibilities. Putting yourself in someone else’s head, even a fictional someone, perhaps even especially a fictional person equips you to live a better life.
Never forget that multitudes of people are worse off than you are to no fault of their own. You are not better than them innately. People are their actions.
Conversely, there will be many people you cross who have advantages that you don’t. I work my ass off to make sure that number shrinks because I want you to have every opportunity, but do not fall into the trap of thinking that you need to take something from people who have more money or skill. That is a waste of energy that could be spent in making your life better. Don’t ever think that anyone is better than you just because of who they are or where they were born ever. It’s worth repeating – actions make you who you are.
Related, believe in yourself and cheer for your team. You do not cheer against the other team. You strive to be better. You do not strive to make other people worse.
When it’s your turn to buy a round at the bar, you don’t go to the bathroom.
The movies you like can teach you a lot about yourself and life. For example, you don’t wear the shirt of the band you’re going to see. After a break up, the other party will not call you until you truly forget about them. In a zombie apocalypse, the barrier will always fail. The movies people like can teach you a lot about them.
If you’re only reading or watching things that don’t challenge your beliefs, then you’re reading and watching the wrong things. If everyone around you only believes what you do, then you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people. The people who only hang out with those who believe exactly as they do must lead a very sad and predictable existence and that’s not what I want for you. That’s not what I want for myself.
If you can’t see some of yourself in the person you despise the most, then you don’t know yourself very well.
The way you live your life is important. There will be times when it won’t seem important. There will be times when holding the door for a stranger will not seem like it matters. Times will come when a snide comment you make to a stranger or your spouse will not seem like a big deal. Giving up or giving in will seem like such a small matter.
It is never a small matter.
Find your tribe and tend to it with care. Be yourself because your true friends are out there and a fake version of yourself will draw fake friends. Approach the practice of choosing the people you surround yourself with as if it’s the most important thing you do. It is. Many people shouldn’t be trusted with something that can be broken. Once you find the ones who can, love them with all your heart. The rest of them don’t make a lick of difference and you shouldn’t spend any time convincing yourself that they do.
When someone dies, sending thoughts and prayers to the family is nice. Sending food is better.
There is a craft to living that I’m only just starting to understand but I hope my mistakes will help you realize the importance of this sooner. The way you live your life is the most important thing and that is not just true for the big events of your life but also for the way you comport yourself in your day. There is an art to walking out of a building. Not because of how you look but because of how you approach the world. There is a certain cosmic thrum that you can plug into when you’re making your way through a crowd. Have you ever watched a bird just floating in the wind? It’s barely working at all, just angling its wings just right to move with the currents. It’s like that.
It all matters. It all counts. It all makes you who you are. This is both infuriating and wonderful, is it not? The way you walk down the same stairs you’ve walked down every day matters. Today you might meet the love of your life at the bottom step.
Take a few minutes each day just to be thankful to be alive. It sounds so cheesy, and let’s be honest, it is, but think about the alternative. No matter what happens in your life, be it break ups or betrayals, wars or some maniac destroying your childhood by releasing prequels that make no damn sense, if you’re still alive, then it’s worth being grateful for that.
Take a deep breath.
Now get on with it. I’ll be the guy embarrassing you by cheering too loudly from the sidelines.