Forty Guidelines for Becoming a Classic

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“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (1.1.82)
  1. Know that it’s not too late.

  2. Know that you’re not too old.

  3. Cultivate your own individual style.

  4. Be yourself; let others do the same. And avoid trying to find your satisfaction vicariously through someone else’s life.

  5. Be able to articulate your values and beliefs.

  6. Each day, use your creativity, interests, and talents in some way.

  7. Write/Draw/Dance/Play music . . . to satisfy yourself, not for anyone else’s approval.

  8. Embrace this truth: If you try to do something according to someone else’s opinions—in place of your own—you’ll probably either not like the results or give up before finishing.

  9. Acknowledge that if you’re procrastinating, there’s something wrong with the situation. Figure out and address the problem.

  10. Learn something new every day.

  11. Learn for the pleasure of learning.

  12. Have a sense of purpose in life and keep that purpose shining in your heart and mind.

  13. Understand that your sense of purpose doesn’t have to be flashy, obvious to others, or highly specific (such as “become a bestselling author” or “sing Aida at the Met”).

  14. Develop and keep routines and traditions that support order and meaning in your life. Include time for meditation and reflection.

  15. Notice the interesting small details in nature and all of life.

  16. Keep a journal so that ideas, impressions, and memories don’t fade and days don’t get lost in the tide of years.

  17. Practice being fully present in the moment.

  18. Define the present moment as meaningful and interesting.

  19. Discover the positive potential and lessons in difficult situations.

  20. Value your blessings while you have them, and not just in hindsight.

  21. Do the best you can and then let it go. Don’t rehash the past by asking, “Did I really do my best and try my hardest?”

  22. Once a situation is past, forgive everyone for everything (which does not mean letting bad situations recur).

  23. Realize that other peoples’ behavior makes sense from their frame of reference.

  24. Don’t try to change other people, but allow for the possibility of their changing. (Your example is more powerful than your arguments.)

  25. Believe that no matter how hard others try to make you feel inferior, you are an equally important and valuable human being.

  26. Minimize contact with energy vampires and other people who don’t make you feel good about yourself.

  27. Don’t allow yourself to feel like a child who has misbehaved. You acted as you did for a reason, even if you will look at the situation differently next time.

  28. Look for and take opportunities to give honest encouragement.

  29. Recognize that encouraging others doesn’t mean trying to please them to win their favor.

  30. Don’t allow yourself to act out of fear of rejection or criticism.

  31. In relationships, act from the beginning according to the principle of mutual respect; it can be exceedingly difficult to change the relationship dynamics later.

  32. Identify a mentor to help you strengthen your confidence, courage, and dedication to your values and life focus. A mentor can be someone you admire but don’t know personally.

  33. Find and seize opportunities to see life from others’ perspectives and situations.

  34. If you’re lonely, reach out to someone to whom you could give pleasure.

  35. Be aware that reaching out to and helping others can take many forms, including writing and other creative endeavors.

  36. Don’t value helping strangers above helping family members and other loved ones: both kinds of service are infinitely important, so serve where and how you can.

  37. Realize that if you fail to honor your own fundamental needs, you won’t be able to continue helping others over the long haul.

  38. If you are doing an assignment or task for someone else, first accept it consciously as something you are choosing to do, and then put your own stamp on it.

  39. Accept that getting stressed won’t lead to greater punctuality/perfection/approval than will staying calm.

  40. Strive, in your own way, to advance justice and kindness.

4 thoughts on “Forty Guidelines for Becoming a Classic

  1. I loved this and like to think I have learned much of it during a long life. I would add to #24 – by changing how we interact with another person, it may cause them to change in response. That, however, should not be our purpose but, rather a happy result of changing ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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