Quick Tips for a Better Life

24 May 2013 · 11 comments

Though I moved into my new place just over three months ago, my walls are largely bare. I want to fill them with art, but I’m taking my time. I have a plan.

At some point, I realized that I have a lot of friends who are artists. I think it would be fun to pay them to create pieces of art for me. Apparently, they think it’d be fun too. Everyone I’ve approached has been eager to work on a personalized commission.

I’m just geting started with this project, but already have a handful of pieces. For instance, here’s a corner of the dining room:

IMG_0529

From left to right:

  • The yellow ceramic shell on top of the cabinet was created by Castle Riecke and her husband, Jim. When I was in high school, Castle was my first serious girlfriend. We reconnected a few years ago, and now try to hike or have coffee when time allows.
  • I commissioned the Kermit painting from Jolie Guillebeau. My favorite frog is sipping scotch and smoking a pipe while sitting on a pile of personal finance books. I love it.
  • The large ceramic vase on the floor was made by Kim’s cousin Freddie, who is better known as another type of artist.

When I met my friend Lisa for coffee a couple of weeks ago, I realized that she too has an artistic bent. She recently took some graphic design courses at a local university, and she’s just begun apprenticing with a fellow who does letterpress printing. She loves it.

“Hey,” I said. “I’ve been buying art from friends. Would you be interested in creating something for me?”

“Sure!” she said. She seemed excited. “Get me a few lines of text, and I’ll work on it over the next few months.”

That sounded awesome — but then I felt pressured to come up with something worthy of her work. I considered giving her one of my favorite quotes to play with, but then I decided I’d like something more personal. So, I spent a couple of hours last week compressing my life philosophy into a few sentences. When I’d finished, I’d boiled my personal creed down to one hundred words.

One Hundred Words by J.D. Roth

Breathe. Self-care comes first: Nurture your mind, body, and spirit. Be optimistic. Choose happiness. Don’t take things personally, and don’t make assumptions. Be good to people. Foster friendships. Be vulnerable and love passionately. Trust others. Trust yourself. Always do your best, but embrace the imperfections. Refuse to let fear guide your decision-making process. Act, even when you’re afraid. Ask for what you want. Collect opportunities, and create your own luck. Explore. Try new things, and keep an open mind. Be present in the moment. Share without reservation. Do what you love — do it often. Cultivate gratitude and joy.

Where possible above, I’ve linked to the person who taught me each lesson.

Meanwhile, on a related note, somebody posted an interesting question on AskMetafilter yesterday. RapcityinBlue wondered: “What’s the best piece of advice you got that worked nearly right away?” I always enjoy reading responses to this sort of thing. This time was no different. Here are some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom:

  • Listen when someone tells you something about themselves.
  • Never miss a chance to nap, ride a train, or let someone teach you something new.
  • Smile when you pick up the phone.
  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
  • Create a rule/filter in your e-mail client that holds all outgoing mail for 5 minutes.
  • Never cut what you can untie.

There are many other great tips in that thread, from advice about how to handle specific situations (snowboarding, computer programming) to general principles for living a happier life. It’s awesome.

I love it when people share the rules that help them lead a better life. What are some of yours?

1 bethh May 24, 2013 at 10:11

Apply yourself to the basics and progress will follow.

I got that in a fortune cookie over 20 years ago, and it never fails to help me stop floundering and take small, concrete steps forward. It only promises progress, which is entirely reasonable!

2 Frankerson May 24, 2013 at 10:16

Save some money for a rainy day, but save even more money for the day your house burns down.

3 Martin May 24, 2013 at 16:00

My rules are simple:

Never ever ever feel sorry for yourself. The world will try to bring you down. Step up and always be ready to slap adversity across the face.

Never miss a workout. Missing a workout/creating excuses/laziness does and WILL transcend to other areas of your life. Do 15 pushups in your washroom if you have to.

Do. Don’t think. Don’t worry. It’s just a weight. It’s just a beautiful stranger. It’s just a new type of food.

4 Lou Rodriguez May 25, 2013 at 07:02

This quote by Edwin Way Teale is a rule I live my life by every single day and would love to share it with you and your readers:

Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.
-Edwin Way Teale-

5 Steven J Fromm May 25, 2013 at 10:03

Great post just filled with adages and slogans to live by. Some of mine: Live and let god. Easy does it. We did not cause and cannot cure it. My perspective is to try to be kind and thoughtful to others as much as I can. Thanks for your inspiring post.

6 dh May 25, 2013 at 16:51

“Don’t think.”
— J. Krishnamurti

7 jlcollinsnh May 25, 2013 at 22:02

It’s OK for the other guy to get a deal, too.

Keep a mental list of people you’d like to have a cup of coffee with. Invite them.

Read.

There is nothing you can’t learn, no place you can’t go, if you read.

8 Alex May 26, 2013 at 14:11

My top three (in reverse order) from my mission statement…
3. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
2. It’s never too late to start doing the right thing.
1. You get out of something what you put into it.

I gotta say that while I initially acquired #1 struggling in school, it never ceases to amaze me how much it’s resonated in other parts of my life, particularly with relationships.

9 Andi B. May 27, 2013 at 10:27

1. Don’t let your mouth write checks your ass can’t cash.
2. Lead an honest life.
2a. Be honest about when you can’t do something or won’t do something.
2b. If you don’t have the courage of your convictions, you need new ones.
3. Peace and contentment are equally important to passion.
4. A life led for self will never be as interesting or make you as happy as a life led in the service of something greater.
5. Consequences are simply the learning tools of accountability.

10 mary w May 30, 2013 at 12:39

My first boss taught me, “Never complain. Never explain.”

11 retirebyforty June 1, 2013 at 09:12

I think it’s great that you are commissioning artworks.
I don’t really have a personal creed. It’s probably a good idea to sit down and think about this.
Mostly, I just try to treat people well and enjoy life.

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