Altar Call -- Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
February 17, 2013


Ten valuable lessons learned from the school of life


Boundaries are important. Rules are necessary. And the best rules for living are clearly the Bible’s Ten Commandments. These guidelines have stood the test of time. Most people agree that when we violate the Ten Commandments we actually “break” ourselves. Lying, stealing or bearing false witness, for example, will eventually ruin life.

Along life’s journey all of us learn additional valuable lessons. I want to share ten such lessons that I have learned either from observation or the teaching of others. Though these principles are not original with me, they are, I believe, basic values for living a life of significance and joy. I have shared these lessons before and I believe they are worth sharing again.

One, life is lived best in chapters. The rings in a tree tell us the story of that tree. Each ring is a chapter of sorts. In life we all have times of transition, pain, and change. You cannot always choose the circumstances of your life but you can choose to put down a period and conclude some experience. You can put an end to one thing and begin something new. You may have a chapter of discouragement, for example, but you can decide that it is over and begin a new chapter of celebration. You have a choice.

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 – and those of others with whom you live. Living as a "perfectionist" is not good for yourself, your family, or your friends.

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 involved to laugh with you. Such celebration helps you emerge as a victor instead of a victim.

Four, discard "if only" from your vocabulary. When we indulge in the use of "if onlys," we are dodging 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 allow this problem to throw me." Then move on.

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 usually you are your biggest problem so give other people a break and work on yourself. You cannot change others; you can change yourself in significant ways.

Six, accept the imperfections of other people. Doing this will help you not to blame others when things go wrong. Take for granted what is obvious. We are all alike. We all sometimes 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.

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. Wait until next year to unload your troubles on those around you. If nothing else works, take a good look at your face in a mirror. That always works for me.

Eight, smile and move on when people rain on your parade. There is always someone 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 "wet blanket" crowd spoil your fun -- or your attitude.

Nine, if you are prone to fuss a lot, stop complaining. It is a choice you can make. Think about this: nobody ever wakes up in the morning and says, "Boy, I sure hope I run into somebody today who is complaining." Nobody wants to be around you if you are constantly fussing about something. So do yourself a big favor and stop fussing so much.

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; spring will come! + + +