Holding up the bar in the 1930s. Who knows? Maybe these men were discussing the points made in today's post?
How does a person live in a steady, untroubled state without drama? To put it another way, how might one live life on an even keel? There are probably many ways to approach that particular question, but here's my take on it. See what you think.
1) Get serious about life!
You don't actually want to live in your parents' basement forever, right? So, stop drifting. Decide on a goal, make plans to achieve it (LEGALLY), and follow through. Make a decision even if it turns out to be the wrong one. But whatever you do, don't become so anxious about making the decision ("Oh, my God! What if I choose. . . THE WRONG OPTION???") that you never do it for fear of skinning your knees. That is part of life. But above all, you need to get serious about life much sooner than has become the norm for people everywhere. You can't remain a feckless adolescent until you're 40th birthday. Honestly. Have you noticed though? More and more, the tendency seems to be that sterotypical deer-in-the-headlights stasis, but that is not how to get ahead in life.
2) Abandon the passive approach!
Assuming you;re on board with my point above, you aspire to being more than a part-time barista after you round 30, and you're still reading, you've got to climb into the driver's seat of your own life. Stop waiting for others to tell you what to do, how to do it, or good fortune to simply fall into your lap. Quit blaming things on bad luck or the negative influence of others. You control your own life and related decisions. No one made you blow up at your supervisor at work the other day but you. That was your choice. So, let's work to increase our self-awareness and related degree of self-control, ok Bubba? Time to mend fences, apologize, and accept the consequences when Monday morning roles around. Next time, suck it up, and keep your mouth closed.
3) Delay gratification!
Don't overextend yourself financially. It's all about self-awareness and self-control. Avoid the seductive idea of credit and paying for things with plastic if at all possible. Unless you can pay more than the minimum amount each month, the interest will kill you. In most instances, save up until you can pay cash for whatever the desired item might be. Where big ticket items like houses and cars are concerned, delaying gratification might mean going a little smaller than you'd like to at first. Or buying a fixer-upper perhaps. Or getting a dependable used car without too many miles on it instead of the latest model with all of the options and in a special color. Leave something for later once you're in a more secure financial position in five, 10, or 15 years' time. That overwhelming sense of entitlement and desire to have it all before we reach our 30th birthdays isn't helping us any, Scooter.
4) Don't commit the crime if you haven't got the time!
As the theme song for that old 1970s TV series Baretta advised, "No, no. no. Don't do it!" It's always amazing the number of people out there who clearly still think in the 21st century that they somehow won't get caught for crimes ranging from petty thievery and shoplifting to much more violent serious crimes like rape and murder. Sooner, or later, the police will figure things out and find you. Count on it. It's rare when that doesn't happen. Detection and related investigative procedures and tools improve all the time, boys and girls. So, it's really better to keep your nose clean, quit looking for an easy buck, and get on with your life in a legal sense. You really don't want to cripple yourself forever after by engaging in crime and possible incarceration, a personal history that might be very difficult to shake off after the fact.
5) Use your common sense!
Hello? Many people seem to lack this in 2020 from what we can observe on a daily basis in most situations, so it's worth pointing out that we are born with a fairly high degree of agency and the freedom to exercise it. That doesn't always mean we should however. Put another way, if something seems like a bad idea, it probably is. If you have ask for advice because there is some nagging doubt in the back of your mind, it's probably something you shouldn't do. It might, just might, be better to think everything through one more time, whatever the issue at hand might be. As my son's elementary school motto goes, "Be proactive, make good choices, stop and think!"
6) Accept responsibility for your own actions and choices!
Neither a popular idea, nor something that most want to hear in 2020, but you know what? A lot of the time, people are their own worst enemies and are all too ready to blame perceived misfortune or bad luck on "The Man," the "inherently flawed system" they choose to believe is somehow stacked against them, institutional this or that, or they simply fall back on that perennial favorite of undergraduates everywhere, "It's just not fair!" Please. Society neither "makes" a person commit a robbery, nor puts the gun or knife that takes an innocent life into someone's hand. Individuals are the ones in charge of how they think and behave. It's time to stop shirking the responsibility we have to each other, and, to be perfectly frank, to ourselves.
7) Avoid chemical dependencies and addictions.
At the risk of sounding like the late Nancy Reagan, just don't. Don't even start. If you're bored, frustrated, or desperate, seek help BEFORE problems ensue. Be proactive. Talk to your doctor, spiritual leader, or confide in a trusted friend or family member who has your best interests at heart. Or volunteer to fill those empty hours. Not only will alcohol and drugs screw up your life and the lives of others in a myriad of unanticipated ways, but addiction will forever after make it exceedingly difficult to get your life back in gear, on the right track, and beyond those ill-advised, previous indiscretions. Let's not forget either that alcohol and drugs will mess up your physical appearance, age you far beyond your years, and might result in various health problems later in life. Assuming you live to tell the tale that is.
8) Stay out of bed until you know someone really, really, really well.
Surprise! That takes more than a few days, weeks, or months. Here's a dirty little secret. Sex clouds our judgement, so it's really better to wait until both parties are very sure about the relationship and where it's going before deciding to hit the sheets. At the very least, it will spare one or both parties considerable disappointment and heartache. Why share that part of yourself with someone who is emotionally unavailable, interested only in the short term, and unworthy of our affections? That's an exceedingly quaint idea for 2020, I know, but there we are. It's how I'll advise The Young Master in another couple of years.
9) Delay children until you're 'stable' in several senses.
On a similar note, let's set aside the rosy view of parenthood for just a moment and be brutally honest about it. Parenthood is a thankless, difficult task under the best of circumstances. Children are a huge strain on even the most solid relationship when it comes to time and finances, and parents need to be on the same mental page about a litany of things. Factor in the possibility of emotional immaturity on the part of one or both parents along with a host of other potential hardships, and you've got a recipe for disaster. The research out there suggests strongly that children brought up in stable environments do much better in school, childhood, and adult life than those unfortunate enough to be born into chaotic situations. It's really best to wait until you and your partner are set up for the long term in the financial and relationship sense in whatever form that might take. Birth control of various types is cheap, folks. Wait on kids until you've got your ducks in row where education, emotional maturity, stable employment, relationship, and joint finances are concerned. Remember, it's no longer about you once The Stork drops off Junior or Little Sweetpea.
10) Get an Education!
Contrary to many in higher education, I don't believe that everyone is necessarily college material in 2020. Some people just aren't, and it's wrong to continue pushing this utopian post-WWII ideal given how much post-secondary education now costs. That approach has, in large part, led to the current student loan debt crisis. Trade schools might be a better option for many, providing more clearly marketable skills -- of which we are in need -- at a more reasonable cost in terms of time invested and money spent. Again, not an idea that is popular in the current '(free) college for everyone' climate, but there we are. Clear-eyed honesty with ourselves and others about this particular issue is not something most seem willing to consider. On the other hand, the current political situation is a solid argument, if ever there were one, for the ability of the broad electorate to think more critically. And the habit of critical thought is best fostered, and more likely to come about, through a completed college or university degree program. On that note, check out The Foundation for Critical Thinking website if you're wondering what in the world I am blathering on about.
If one feels the need, practicing some sort of spiritual life will certainly provide guidance on a number of fronts. While I was raised in the Episcopal Church, I have not attended church routinely for years and keep my spiritual beliefs private. Nevertheless, the efforts of my parents, grandparents, my maternal uncle (an ordained Episcopal and later Catholic priest), and the late Father Cosby undoubtedly provided a solid moral and ethical grounding that continues to serve me well today. And while I do not think we need a theocracy controlling the sociopolitical life of the United States (or anywhere else), some semblance of spiritual community and guidance, if people so choose, might very well provide the foundation and structure that is so clearly missing from many lives in our current era. iPhones won't do that, ladies and gentlemen.
There are probably many other related points I've missed when it comes to enjoying a steady, untroubled life, so feel free to chime in with those suggestions should they occur to you. In any case, I think these eleven points might provide a good start when it comes to keeping one's life on an even keel, but I am interested in what others might think. Drop me line via a comment should the muse seize you.
Stay out of bed until you are married. Period.ReplyDelete
That's probably the best idea, though how many will actually have the presence of mind to remember it in the heat of the moment is something else entirely.ReplyDelete