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    Three rules of life

    March 31st, 2010

    “Three rules of life:

    1. set a good table;
    2. if in doubt, act like you own the place; and
    3. if you’re not in bed by 10:00 p.m., you might as well come home.”

    These were originally the three rules of dating. My father sat me down when I was about 15 years old, and explained these rules to me. At that time, it was more about going out and meeting girls. But as the years went by, they became the rules of life.

    Set a good table means we present ourselves well. Consider Thanksgiving dinner, where we have the good silverware out and the good tablecloth, and we actually put the green beans into a bowl rather than just setting them out in the pot we cooked them in on the stove.

    So, if I’m going somewhere where I should be wearing a suit, this saying tells me to wear a suit. If I’m going somewhere where it’s okay to wear jeans and a t-shirt, then I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It helps me present myself in the realm that I should be.

    The second one, “if in doubt, act like you own the place,” is about confidence. Confidence is displaying I’m comfortable with myself, and my surroundings.

    At times, I’ve gone overboard and made the mistake of thinking arrogance is the same as confidence. It’s not. Arrogance is off-putting. It’s something I used to keep people at a distance, and cover my insecurities.

    In the third part, “if you’re not in bed by 10:00 p.m., you might as well come home,” my dad meant I should remember that everything I do doesn’t work out. It’s about knowing when to follow through, and when to walk away.

    While this started as the three rules of dating, it has become the three rules of a successful life.


    Progress rather than perfection

    March 30th, 2010

    “Progress rather than perfection.”

    This says is the goal is not perfection. The goal is progress.

    I realized years ago, I procrastinated because it provided an excuse for not living up to my perceptions of my abilities.

    For example, if I waited until the last day to do something and then rushed through it, I would tell myself, “I could have done a better job, but I didn’t have enough time.”

    This was how I used procrastination to avoid being honest about my capabilities.

    By focusing on progress, and being honest with myself about my abilities, I’ve been able to accomplish much more in my life.

    I actually prefer the saying,

    “Progress towards perfection.”

    This altered version reminds me it is not just about progress. It’s also about improvement. We get things done and we learn from our experiences.


    The more you think about a conspiracy the bigger it gets

    March 29th, 2010

    “The more you think about a conspiracy, the bigger it gets.”

    On a simple level, this is about action.

    Many times, I find myself thinking about what I should do, rather than doing something. Sadly, many opportunities closed while I was thinking.

    On a deeper level it’s also about clearing away mental garbage. Nothing productive comes from obsessing on things outside my control. Knowing this, I don’t have to get upset with the way Congress is acting or whatever subject I latch onto to avoid looking at myself.

    Now when I start thinking about something, and my mind wants to run off on a delusion, I’ll tell myself, “The more you think about a conspiracy, the bigger it gets.”

    It is a reminder for me not to run down those roads, not to waste my time.

    This saying also applies to faith. . .

    I have many fundamentalists among my friends. Most of these fundamentalists respond to any question or comment as if it is an attack on them or their beliefs. Their paradigms tell them to deny questions, and their spiritual advisors seek to keep them from being tainted by reinforcing this aspect of their faith.

    When the faithful respond as if they are attacked, they are really strengthening their convictions. They argue their points using circular logic, like a scratched record repeating itself. This repeating of quotes solidifies their beliefs.

    In addition, when their quotes are not received the way they think they should be received, they run back into the arms of the flock where they are accepted. Sadly this behavior is also designed into the paradigm to create unity within the group.

    Side note here: if you are feeling offended by the above paragraphs ask yourself if you would feel the same way if I used multi-level marketing or a specific cult like the Hare Krishna as an example. If your honest answer is no, then why are you feeling attacked?

    This is one of my favorite sayings.


    Hidden needs drive us

    March 28th, 2010

    “Hidden needs drive us.”

    For years I found myself in a string of poor relationships. I was never happy in them and they tended to last much longer than they should have.

    Many of the women became obsessed with me, and when I ended the relationships began stalking me.

    These were always women with poor self-esteem. After all, what woman with any self-worth would have wanted to be with me?

    When I started improving myself, I realized all these relationships had met my needs. I’d found women who would not leave me.

    As a child I’d felt abandoned by my mother when my parents divorce. As an adult, a strong relationship ended when I began confronting my drug addiction. Again, I felt abandoned. My hidden inner need was a fear of abandonment.

    Satisfying this inner need became detrimental. Rather than attracting a woman to challenge me, to encourage me, to be supportive in my times of need I found women who wouldn’t leave me.

    Identifying other hidden needs comes only through self-awareness. Learning what really drives us and why we make the decisions we do, helps us improve our lives.


    You must have a vision of the future

    March 26th, 2010

    “You must have a vision of the future that includes yourself.”

    When I first heard this, I was despondent. At the time I was comparing myself, my life, and my lack of employment history with the people around me. This comparison left me feeling less-than and ashamed of myself.

    Hearing this simple statement helped me understand it wasn’t important how I measured up when compared with others. It was only important for me to be moving forward in my life.

    Based on this statement and another I heard shortly thereafter, (The saying “I look inside myself and see my worth, and know that I am good“) I began to create a vision of my future.

    Since then I’ve adapted this from the original. I believe that it works better to say:

    “You must have a positive and realistic vision of your future.”

    I added those three words, “positive and realistic,” because they’re so important.

    Without these three words I risk delusion. I risk creating daydreams rather than realistic visions.

    Original quote from Brian Holloway.