Altar Call -- Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
Sunday, April 9, 2006

Ten basic principles that can change your life

We already have Ten Commandments. God gave them to us and they need no improvement from me. They simply need to be followed so that we can live the way God wants us to live.

I want to share some additional ideas that can help us live well. I prefer to call them suggestions or principles that can improve the quality of our lives. These are principles I have learned in the school of hard knocks. Since that is the way most of us learn how to live, you may be already using these principles in your own life.

One, life should be lived in chapters. My forester son Tim tells me that the rings in a tree tell us the story of that tree. Each ring is a chapter of sorts. We can see what years there may have been a drought.

††††††††† In reading a book I often look ahead to find out the length of the chapter I am reading. In life we all have times of transition, pain, and change. We cannot always choose the circumstances of our lives, but we can choose to put down a period and conclude some experience. We can put an end to one thing and begin something new. We may have a chapter of discouragement, but we can decide that it is over and begin a new chapter of celebration.

††††††††† Two, give up trying to be perfect. Progress, not perfection, should be our goal. Get off your own back. The demand for perfection is a burden you can give up for Lent and forever. Aim to make a little progress each day, and be at peace about your imperfections. Trying to be a "perfectionist" is unhealthy. It ruins life for yourself, your family, and your friends.

††††††††† Three, celebrate your mistakes. You will make mistakes; we all do. But when you make one, especially a big one, consider it so excellent that you want to remember not to make it again. You celebrate it by injecting a little humor into your guilt. Then you can laugh at yourself and invite others to laugh with you. Such celebration helps you become the victor instead of the victim.

††††††† Four, cut "if only" out of your vocabulary. When we indulge in the use of "if onlys," we are simply trying to dodge our responsibility for a problem. Try never again to begin a sentence with "if only." Substitute the word, "because." Hereís an example: "Because I am in charge of my life, I will not allow this problem to throw me."

††††††† Five, donít blame other people for your problems. How you react to what other people do and say is more important than what they do and say. You cannot control what other people do; you can decide how you will respond to their behavior. Accept the fact that sometimes you are your own biggest problem. Then give other people a break and work on yourself.

††††††† Six, accept the reality that nobody is perfect, including you. Accept the imperfections of others. Doing this will help you not to blame them when things go wrong. Since other people are like you and me, they will sometimes say things that are insensitive and stupid. Go ahead and forgive them because that is what you want them to do for you when you are insensitive. When others do not measure up to your expectations, relax and remember that we live in an imperfect world. To survive we have to offer one another the gift of understanding. It is perfectly alright to be wrong sometimes.

††††††† Seven, laugh a lot every day. Humor is so important that we should look for it constantly. If you are having a really bad day, find something funny you can share with others to get a good laugh. If nothing else works, go look at yourself in the mirror. That works for me every time.

††††††† Eight, smile when people rain on your parade Ė and move on. Life is too short to let jerks jerk you around. Jerks are everywhere, ready to put a damper on anything you say. When they do, just smile and move on with your life. Refuse to let them get your attention because what gets your attention gets you.

†††††† Nine, if you fuss a lot, stop it. Complaining gets you nowhere. It is a choice you can make so make it. Think about this: nobody ever wakes up in the morning and says, "Boy, I sure hope I run into somebody today who is complaining." Believe me, if you fuss all the time people do not want to be around you. Do yourself a favor and quit fussing. You will live longer and have more fun.

††††††† Ten, when the bottom falls out of your life, pray for spring. Remember that winter doesnít last forever. Bad times, winter times, come to us all. But things have a way of changing, like the seasons of the year. When it is wintertime in your life, hang on, for spring will come!It has again this year; it always will.

††††††† So there you have it -- ten basic principles that can change your life. Keep Godís commandments. Then consider these suggestions too. They help me. They may help you too. + + + +