Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

February 27, 2011


The ten principles by which I try to live my life  


Moses gave us Ten Commandments that he received from God. So far no one has improved those commandments. Break them and you buy yourself a world of misery. Keep them and your life has meaning and joy.

Not to diminish the value of the Ten Commandments, there are other helpful rules for living we may consider. One day I jotted down the guidelines by which I have tried to live my life. I cut the list down to ten. In no way are they a substitute for the Ten Commandments.  Ten just seemed like a good number. These guidelines are simply the ten guiding principles of my life and they have served me well. I have shared this list before but I have revised them in order to share them again.  

While these are “my“principles, they are not new, profound or original with me. In the course of my days I “found” these rules and embraced them.  As you mull them over, you will likely say, “That is one of my guiding principles also.” I have no monopoly on wisdom. I hope as you read them that you will find your heart saying, “Yes, that is a rule by which I also try to live.” You may indeed have embraced some of these wise principles long before I did. If one is new to you I invite you to claim it for your own. Here are the ten:  

One, live life in chapters. The rings in a tree tell the story of that tree. Each ring is a chapter of sorts. 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 wrenching 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. We can dismiss our guilt over failure and rejoice in a new beginning.

Two, make progress, not perfection, your goal. Refuse to burden yourself with the demand for perfection in everything. Instead, aim to make a little progress each day, and be at peace about your imperfections. Living as a "perfectionist" is not good for yourself, your family, or your friends. Perfectionism will not only drive your friends away, it will drive you nuts. Just give it up and get perfectionism off your back. You will immediately have a better life.

Three, learn to celebrate "excellent" mistakes. You will make mistakes; we all do. But when you make one, especially a big one, recognize it as being so excellent that you want to remember not to make it again. To “celebrate it” means to inject a little humor into your guilt so that you can laugh at yourself and invite others to laugh with you. Such celebration helps you emerge as the victor instead of the victim.

Four, eliminate "if only" from your vocabulary. When we indulge in the use of "if only," we are simply dodging our responsibility for a problem. Decide never again to begin a sentence with "if only." Substitute the word, "because." Here’s an example: "Because I am in charge of my life, I will not resort to whining or self-pity. I made a mistake but I will do better next time.” Enjoy the precious gift of “next time”! Be merciful to yourself as well as others. Mercy offers the gift of “next time.”

Five, refuse to 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, so give other people a break and work on yourself. You are your own worst enemy. Accept that and life will get easier. But stop kicking yourself; once is enough. Forgive yourself and move on.

Six, accept the imperfections of other people. This will help you not to blame them when things go wrong. Take for granted what is obvious. Other people are like you and me; sometimes then will say things that are insensitive and stupid. Do others the same favor you do for yourself: accept the fact that we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. When others do not measure up to your expectations, remember this and relax. It is perfectly alright to be wrong sometimes. You can probably remember a time back in1962 when you were wrong about something!

Seven, live no day without laughter. Humor is so important that we must 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. Here is a “good laugh” for today:

A grandmother was sick and in bed. Her five-year-old grandson fixed her a cup of tea. It tasted awful but she forced it down because she loved the boy. As she was sipping the last of the cup, she asked her grandson how he had made the tea. He said, “I could not find the strainer thing so I used the flyswatter.” Grandma gasped, “The flyswatter!” Realizing that Grandma was exasperated, the boy said, “But I did not use the new flyswatter, Grandma; I used the old one!” Laughter, as the Bible says, is wonderful medicine for the soul. Don’t leave home without it!

Eight, smile and move on when people rain on your parade. There is always somebody around who feels compelled to put a damper on anything you say. Explain that you bought something at a bargain and someone will say that you paid far too much for it. In this situation your best response is a smile. Move on and forget it. Don’t let the jerk in the crowd spoil your fun -- or your attitude. Be proud of yourself for not saying something stupid. A smile and silence are often a great response to the person who is trying to “get your goat.”

Nine, if you are prone to fuss a lot, stop complaining. It is a choice you can make so do it. Think about this: nobody ever wakes up in the morning and says, "I sure hope I run into somebody today who is complaining."  People would rather not be around you if you are constantly fussing about everything. So do yourself a big favor and stop fussing so much. You will enjoy life more and you will be more fun to live with. Work hard to offer positive comments in conversations with others.

Ten, when the bottom falls out of your life, pray for spring. Remember that winter doesn’t 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!

So there you have it -- ten principles for living that help us squeeze more joy out of life. They are not easy principles to live by; you could really call them “goals” for living. All I know is that my life is better for having tried to stay focused on these goals. Since the end of the road may be just around the bend, I plan to keep on trying to live by these rules, as well as those Ten Commandments. + + +