Monday, November 29, 2010

Ten Simple Rules

What have you learned from your favorite columnist, radio host, books, websites, teacher?

A SURVIVOR IN NEW HAMPSHIRE wrote in to Dear Abby with a "top ten" list of Dear Abby lessons this person has learned.

1. No one can "make" you unhappy. You have choices.
I broadly agree with this, though there are some cases where it just isn't true, such as a child who is severely abused by the very people who are supposed to care for her. Can she really choose to be happy? But yes, a lot of adults are unhappy because they either literally choose to be, or they make choices that make them unhappy. You probably know someone who is only "happy" (comfortable, reall) when they are miserable.

2. The healthiest way to cure depression? Volunteer your hands and your heart.
I once heard in church an acronym for this – JOY, standing for "Jesus, others, and you". Seek to follow Jesus, seek to help others, and then tend to what you want, and you'll be a lot happier - Especially if you have people in your life who also follow this advice, and thus help you.

3. The best advice for raising children? Remember that you raise them to let them go.
I don't know if that is the best advice, but it is important to remember that parents should exert influence over their children and do so with the goal of making them self-sufficient and pleasant adults.

4. The best person with whom to discuss marital difficulties? Your spouse. Complaining to others may make you feel better for a day, but it will be at the expense of your marriage.
I fall short here. I am careful about what I say to others who know my wife, but ideally I use this blog to anonymously work through what goes on in my head, so that I will only bother my wife with what needs to be shared with her, and hopefully with a possible solution offered at the same time. But I fall short in bringing up everything with her that I should.

5. Don't "protect" those you love from the pain that will heal them.
Sometimes, there are lessons that need to be learned.

6. Never criticize without working toward a solution, particularly when it comes to politics.
People need to vent. But if it is possible to direct energy towards improvement, that is the best way to deal with anger or discontent.

7. Never forget abuse nor tolerate it again, but do forgive the abuser.
Only forgive an abuser who is truly repentant, but do not trust them with those you are obligated to protect.

8. What (and whom) you love is not shown through words but by where you devote your time, your energy and money.
For sure.

9. You are what you eat, read and watch on TV.
This is why you should never eat fruits, nuts, and vegetables, right?

10. Life is linear. Make every moment matter.
Yes, we only are this age for a moment, and we have a finite amount of time in this life.

Dear Abby points out she has never written that one should feel obligated to forgive and abuser.

There really aren't all that many rules one needs to follow to have a good life. The problem comes in dealing with the pain that can come from doing the right thing, dealing with delayed gratification, etc. Just consider the Ten Commandments. If everyone followed them, the problems of this world would be few.

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