Although what I’ve learned is probably no different from what life has taught other people, here are a few of the principles I’ve acquired so far.
- Marriage. Romance and love are not the same, a lesson probably learned only by experience. Romantic love, from what I’ve seen, is an insufficient condition for a successful marriage. What is thought to be love at the outset of a marriage is generally a mirage, for love develops slowly in marriage and continues to do so throughout its life. For a successful marriage, perhaps the two most important components are similar values and a sense of humor.
- Work. There will always be many who are richer or more distinguished than I am, so if my purpose in working is to attain these extrinsic rewards, I will be disappointed, for I will always compare myself to those whose attainments are greater. But if I work principally for the pleasure or the fulfillment it gives me, my success is assured. This assumes, of course, that such work can be found. There are few blessings greater than finding and keeping it.
- Listening. Most people like to talk about themselves and need only a little encouragement to do so. (Witness this essay.)
- Advice. There are few who do not like to give advice, and even fewer who are prepared to take it.
- Humiliation. Next to murder, the greatest crime is the deliberate humiliation of another. If murder kills the body, humiliation mutilates the soul. It is generally never forgotten or forgiven.
- Kindness. I cannot know what troubles plague those with whom I come into casual contact. Even those with the most cheerful countenance may harbor great sorrow. So if I can avoid needlessly adding to their burdens, I try to do so. If I cannot make their life better, at least I try not to make it worse.
- Planning. Planning is more useful for giving the illusion of control than for managing the actual course of events. Chance plays an important role in life, for better and for worse.
- Worry. We generally worry about the wrong things. The calamities we lose sleep about usually don’t materialize, whereas the calamities that befall us are usually unanticipated.
- Dessert. The second bite is never as good as the first.