Some of life's great truths are so simple that you do not even have to experience the lesson to understand its meaning. Thus, I have several rules I live by - mantras or mottoes - whatever you choose to call them. So if you've ever wondered who I am or how I live or what I pounded into the heads of my kiddos as I raised them here it is:
1. Life is too Short. There is no further elaboration needed for this truth; no "to" followed by some ridiculous first world problem. Life is simply already too short. Really, it is! In the grand scheme of the universe and all of its history we are but an infinitesimal blip. So it is essential that we fully experience every moment we have in this life. Perhaps that is why embracing Buddhist philosophy came so naturally to me. Suffering, desire, mindfulness ... the clarity of it all really is beautiful. Basically, when you eat the mango, taste the mango; feel its weight in your hand and pay particular attention to how it is so full you fear the skin might burst; feel the juice that runs down your chin because, let's face it, it is impossible to enjoy a mango without getting a little bit sticky.
2. Life Exists Without A Clock. If we all slept when we were tired and ate when we were hungry and could ignore the man made construct of measuring time the world would be a much better place.
3. Read a Fucking Book/Knowledge is Power. These two go hand-in-hand. Whenever someone tells me they don't like to read I truly believe with all my heart that it is because they just haven't found the right books. Books open doors; fill voids; explain mysteries, and take you to places you would otherwise never go. Knowledge is the only thing that conquers fear and why would anyone choose to live in fear?
4. Would I want it if it had no value in the world? Would I want it if nobody would ever know I had it? Surround yourself with things you love and that have meaning to you. Ignore the rest.
5. If Money will solve it, it is not a problem. My friend Dave once told me this during a period when I was severely stressed about money. The more years that pass the more I realize how true his words were.
6. Leap and the net will appear. Some would say this is a crazy motto to live by, but it has worked for me so far. Things will always work out exactly as they should regardless of how much we worry or hate or fear. Just do it. Leap. It will all be OK.
7. Never take family business outside the family. This falls into the "lesson's The Godfather taught me" category. Keep family problems within the family. Likewise, never speak ill of a family member to an outsider.
8. Ignore Corporate Branding. I refuse to wear anything that is, essentially, an advertisement for a corporate entity. Don't gt me wrong - I like nice things. I still carry the same buttery leather Coach bag I got when I was 16 years old and you know what? Nowhere on it is there a logo that shows. Quality needs no advertisement.
9. All you really have to do is breathe. In the end the only action necessary for life is breathing. I used to get so caught up with worry - What will people think? What if I fail? What if I am not enough? A wise friend said to me, "Your mother will still love you and life will go on. All you have to do is breathe." Simple, but true. My mother loved me fiercely until the day she died; I'm still here, and life is good.
The Addendum: There are two rules that go with all of the above and they are: (1) Don't Make Promises you Cannot keep and (2) Never Bet More Than You are Willing to Lose. Much of life is composed of trust and risk. Make sure you are known for the first and people will be willing to favor you with the latter. Say what you mean and stand by your words. Be honest, but also be kind and your kindness will be returned to you five-fold.