50 Rules for Success

The Rules for Success aren’t set in stone, aren’t secret or difficult. And they are based on observations of happy and successful people. Those who are happy are those who follow most of them. Those who seem miserable are the ones who don’t follow them. And the successful ones don’t even realize this is what they are doing. They are natural Rules for Success Players.

(1) KEEP IT UNDER YOUR HAT

"If A is succes in life,
then A equals X plus Y plus Z.
Work is X; Y is play; and Z is keeping your mouth shut."

-Albert Einstein-

You are about to discover ways to become possitive, happier, more successful in everything you do. So there’s no need to say anything to anybody about it. Keep quiet. No one likes a smart arse. That’s it. First Rule: keep it under your hat.

There may well be times when you do want to talk to other people about what you are doing because, quite naturally, you want to share it with somebody. Well, you can’t and you don’t.

Let them find out for themselves with no clues from you. You may thinks this is unfair but it is actually fairer than you believe. If you tell them, they’ll shy away. And quite rightly so – we all hate being preached at. Just get on with it, do it quitely and go about your daily life happily and smugly without having to tell anyone anything.

(2) YOU’LL GET OLDER BUT NOT NECESSARILY WISER

"Wisdom doesn’t automatically come with old age. Nothing does-except wrinkles. It’s true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place."
-Pauline Phillips pen name Abigail Van Buren

There is an assumption that as we get older we will get wiser; not true I’m afraid. The rule is we carry on being just as daft, still making plenty of mistakes. It’s just that we make new ones, different ones. We do learn from experience and may not make the same mistakes again, but there is a whole new pickle jar of fresh ones just lying in wait for us to trip up and fall into. The secret is to accept this and not to beat yourself up when you do make new ones. The Rule really is: be kind to yourself when you do muck things up. Be forgiving and accept that it’s all part of that growing older but no wiser routine.

Looking back, we can always see the mistakes we made, but we fail to see the ones looming up. Wisdom isn’t about not making mistakes, but about learning to escape afterwards with our dignity and sanity intact.

(3) ACCEPT WHAT IS DONE IS DONE

"The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance."
-Nathaniel Branden-

People make mistakes. Sometimes very serious ones. As often as not, the mistakes they make aren’t deliberate or personal. Sometimes people just don’t know what they are doing.

If you want to, you can let go of any feelings of resentment, of regret, of anger. You can accept that you are a fabulous human being because off all the bad things that have happened to you, not in spite of them. What is done is done and you need to just get on with things. Don’t use the labels ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Yes, I know some of it is indeed bad, but it is how we let it affect us that is the real ‘bad’.

I realized that even if I could get on front of me all the people who had ‘done me wrong’, there would still be nothing they could do. I could shout at them, berate them, rant at them, but there would be nothing they could do to make amends or put things right. They too would have to accept that what’s done is done. There is no going back, only forwards. Make it a motto for life – keep moving forwards.

(4) ACCEPT YOURSELF

"The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.
-Stephanie Perkins-

If you accept that what’s done is done, you are left with yourself exactly as you are. Ypu can’t go back and change anything, so you’ve got to work with what you’ve got. I am not suggesting anything New Age here such as love yourself – that’s far too ambitious. No, let’s begin with simple accepting. Accepting is easy because it is exactly what is says – accepting. You don’t have to improve or strive for perfection. Quite the opposite. Just accept.

Yes, we can change lots but that will come later. We’re only up to Rule 4 here.

We have to accept that we are the way we are – the result of everything that has happened. It all just is. You, like me, like all of us, are human. That means you’re pretty complex. You come fully loaded with desire, anguish, sins, pettiness at times, mistakes, ill temper, rudeness, deviation, hesitation and repetition. That’s what makes a human being so wonderful, the complexity. None of us can ever be perfect. We can start with what we’ve got and who we are, and then we can only make a choice, each day, to strive for some kind of better. And that’s all they can ask of us – to make that choice. To be awake and aware, to be ready to do the right thing. And accept that some days you aren’t going to make it. That’s OK, don’t beat yourself up. Accecpt that you will fail from time to time and that you are human.

(5) KNOW WHAT COUNTS AND WHAT DOESN’T

"Don’t just count your years, make your years count.
-George Meredith-

Being here counts. Being kind and considerate counts. Getting through each day without seriously offending anyone or hurting anyone counts. Having the latest technology doesn’t.

Sorry, I don’t have a downer on technology. In fact, I probably have pretty much all the latest gizmos. I just (a) don’t overly rely too much on any of it and (b) see them all as useful tools rather than having any intrinsic meaning in themselves, in a status symbol or one-up personship kind of way.

Do something useful with your life counts. Going shopping because you’re bored doesn’t.

This Rule means focusing on what is important in your life, and making positive changes to ensure you feel happy with what you are dedicating your life to [see Rule 6]. This doesn’t mean long-term plans mapped out to the smallest detail. It means knowing, roughly, where you are going and what you are doing.

Just don’t go mistaking the trivia for what is really important. Having time for loved ones and friends is important, what brand of washing powder you use isn’t. Nurturing our children and teaching them real values is important, dressing them in designer fashion isn’t.
You get the idea. Think about what you do that counts – and do more of it. There are some things in life that are important and a whole lot of things that aren’t.

(6) DEDICATE YOUR LIFE TO SOMETHING

"Most achievers I know are people who have made a strong and deep dedication to pursuing a particular goal. That dedication took a tremendous amount of effort.
-Donald Johanson-

I have some things I dedicate my life to, I do, but keep it under my hat See rule 1. They might be crazy things, but at least I have something I can focus on. something (for me) that counts.

Now none of this is big stuff and by that I mean I don’t go around with this emblazoned on my forehead -I dedicate my life to… sort of thing. It’s more that, quietly, in my heart, I have something that I can devote my attention to. It’s a yardstick by which I can measure (a) how I’m doing, (b) What I’m doing and (c) where I’m going. You don’t need to trumpet it. You don’t need to tell anyone (See Rule 1). You don’t even need to think it out in too much detail.
A simple internal mission statement will do. Disney’s mission for example is: "To make people happy"

Decide what it is you are dedicating your life to. It makes the rest much easier.

(7) BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR THINKING

"Common sense is what tells you that the world is flat."
-Bertrand Arthur William Russell-

Once your thinking gets crystallized, rigid, formed, you’ve lost the battle. Once you think that you have all the answers, you might as well hang up your boots. Once you get set in your ways, you’re already part of history.

To get the most out of life you have to keep all your options open, keep your thinking and life flexible. You have to be ready to roll as the storm breaks-and by golly it always breaks when you least expect it.
Try to see life not as an enemy, but as a friendly sparring partner. If you’re flexible you’ll have fun. If you stand your ground you’re likely to get knocked about a bit. You have to see life as a series of adventures. Each adventure is a chance to have fun. learn something, explore the world, expand your circle of friends and experience, and broaden your horizons. Shutting down to adventures means exactly that – you are shut down.

But even saying yes to every opportunity isn’t set in stone as a rule, because that would be inflexible. The really flexible thinkers know when to say ‘no’ as well as when to say ‘yes’.

(8) TAKE AN INTEREST IN THE OUTSIDE WORLD

"The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile."
-Bertrand Arthur William Russell-

Taking an interest in the outside world is about developing you for yourself, rather than for the world’s benefit. I’m not suggesting you have to watch the news constantly, but by reading, listening and talking, we keep abreast of what is happening. Successful people don’t get bogged down by the minutiae of their own lives, they don’t live in a tiny bubble.

Make it your mission to know what’s going on in the world – in current events, music, fashion, science, movies, food, transport, even TV. Successful people are able to hold a conversation on pretty well everything and anything because they are interested in what’s going on.

The happiest, most well-balanced, most successful people in life are those who are part of something. part of the world, not cut off from it. And the most interesting, stimulating people to be around are those who take a great interest in what’s happening around them.

(9) BE ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS, NOT THE BEASTS

"It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more."
-Woody Allen-

Every single day of our lives we are faced with an immense number of choices. And each and every one of them usually boils down to a simple choice between being on the side of the angles or the beasts. Which one are you going to pick ?. Every action we make has an effect on our family, people around us, society, the world in general. And that effect can be positive or detrimental – it’s usually our choice. And sometimes it is a difficult choice. We get torn between what we want and what is good for others, personal satisfaction or magnanimity.

And making the decision to be on the side of the angels is often a tough call. But if we want to succeed in this life – and I measure success by how close we get to generating that self-satisfaction/happiness/contentment – then we consciously have to do this. This can be what we dedicate our lives to – angels and not beasts.

Now, the problem is that no one is going to tell you exactly what constitutes an angel or a beast. Here you are going to have to set your own parameters. But come on, it can’t be that difficult. I think an awful lot of it is self-evident. Does it hurt or hinder ? Are you part of the problem or the solution ? Will things get better or worse if you do certain things ? You have to make this choice for yourself alone.

It is your interpretation of what is an angel or beast that counts. There is no point in telling anyone else that you are on the side of the beasts, as they may have a totally different definition. What other people do is their choice and they won’t thank you for telling them otherwise. You can of course watch, as an impassive, objective. observer and think to yourself: "I wouldn’t have done it like that". But you don’t have to say anything.

(10) ONLY DEAD FISH SWIM WITH THE STREAM

"In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on."
-Robert Lee Frost-

Life is difficult. If it was all fluffy and easy we wouln’t be tested, tried, forged in the fire of life. We wouldn’t grow or learn or change, or have a chance to rise above ourselves. If life were a series of lovely days, we’d soon get bored. if there was no rain, then there wouldn’t be any feeling of great joy when it finally stopped and we could go to the beach.

So, be thankful it is a struggle some of the time, and recognize that only dead fish swim with the stream. For the rest of us there will be times when it’s an uphill, upstream struggle. We will have to battle waterfalls, weirs and raging torrents. But we have no choice. We have to keep swimming or get swept away. And each flick of our tail, each surge of our fins makes us stronger and fitter, leaner and happier.

Try to see each setback as a chance to improve. They make you stronger, not weaker. You only get burdened with as much as you can carry – although I do appreciate that at times it may seem as if it’s a whole lot more. And of course the struggles don’t come to an end, but there are lulls in-between-times-backwaters where we can rest for a while and enjoy the moment before the next obstacle gets thrown our way.

And whatever situation you’re in now, it’s going to change. So what are you in ? Lull or struggle ? Rain or going to the beach ? Dead fish or healthy salmon ?

(11) BE THE LAST TO RAISE YOUR VOICE

"Use soft words and hard arguments."
-English verb-

This can be a really hard one. Especially when you love to have a good schout. You might come from a big robust family where shouting was a way of life and the only way to get yourself heard, get any attention or to make a point.
Dysfunctional ? Yes. Noisy ? Yes. Helpful ? Probably not.

There are two situation where people lose their temper – justified and manipulative. The first is when you run over their foot with your car and refuse to apologize or acknowledge you have done anything wrong. In this situation they are allowed to shout. The second situation is where people use anger to get their own way – a sort of emotional blackmail. You are allowed to ignore them, or be assertive to control the situation. You are not allowed to shout back.

Calm people get trusted. Calm people get relied on. Calm people get looked up to and given responsibility. Calm people last longer.

(12) BE YOUR OWN ADVISOR

"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we didn’t."
-Erica Jong-

Deep down within all of us is a fount of wisdom. This is called intuition. Listening to your intuition is a slow learnt process. It starts by recognizing that tiny inner voice or feeling that will tell you when you’ve done something you shouln’t have. It’s an incredible still, quiet voice and needs silence and concentration to hear it properly to begin with.

The key is when you hear your intuition telling you whether something is the right thing to do or not – before you do it.
Imagine, in any situation, that you have small child standing at your side and you have to explain things to them. Imagine they ask questions – ‘Why are you doing that ? What’s right and wrong ? Should we do this ? – and you have to answer. Only in this situation, you ask the questions and you answer yourself. And you’ll find you already know everything there is to know and everything you’ll ver need to know.

Listen, and it’s all there. If you are going to trust any adviser, who will it be ?
Quick poin of clarification here. When I say listen, I don’t mean listen to what goes on in your head. Now that really is where madness lies. No, I mean a stiller, quieter voice. for some it’s more a feeling than a voice – what we call gut instinct. And even if it is a voice, a lot of the time it doesn’t speak at all -unlike your mind which babbles on incessantly- and if it does, you can miss it in the torrent of words that our mind produces.

This isn’t about predicting what’s going to happen. What we’re about to do, big decisions we have to make, why are we behaving in the way we are. You already know the answer, if you ask youself.

(13) NO FEAR, NO SURPRISE, NO HESITATION, NO DOUBT

"Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."
-William Shakespeare-

Where does this come from ? it’s from a seventeenth-century samurai warrior. This was his four-point key to successful living – and swordsmanship.

No Fear
There should be nothing in this life that you are afraid of. If there is, you might need to do some work on overcoming that fear. Here I have to confess to a certain fear of heights, I avoid high places if I can. Whatever you fear, face it head on and defeat it.

No Surprise
Life seems to be full of them doesn’t it ? You’re going along swimmingly and suddenly something huge rears up ahead of you. But if you look carefully, there were clues all along the way that it was going to happen. No surprise there then. Whatever your situation now, it is going to change. No surprises there. So why does life seem to surprise us then ? Because we are asleep half the time. Wake up and nothing can sneak up on you.

No Hesitation
Weigh up the odds and then just get on with ot. If you hang back, the opportunity will have passed. If you spend too long thinking, you’ll never make a move. Once we looked at the options, we make a choice, a decision and then go for it. That’s the secret.

No Doubt
Once you have made up your mind about something, don’t go over and over it again and again. Stop thinking and enjoy – relax and let it go. Stop worrying. Tomorrow will come along as certainly as it can. There is no doubt about life. It just is. Be confident. Be committed. Be sure of yourself. Once you have committed yourself to a set course, a path, a plan, then follow it through. have no doubt it was the right thing to do and no doubt that you will succeed. Get on with it and trust your judgement completely.

(14) I WISH I’D DONE THAT – AND I WILL

"All personal achievement starts in the mind of the individual. Your personal achievement starts in your mind. The first step is to know exactly what your problem, goal or desire."
-William Clement Stone-

Regrets, I’ve had a few….You might be expecting me to say there’s no room for regrets or ‘if onlys’. As it happens, they can be very useful – if you choose to use them to make a difference going forward.

There are three types of ‘I wish I had done that’ scenarios.
(1) The first is when you genuinely feel you didn’t capitalize on an opportunity, or that you missed out on something.
(2) The second is when you see somebody who’s done something great and you wish it had been you.
(3) The final type is not you, but the others – the people who hang around with a sort of permanent ‘I could have been a contender’ mentality. If only I’d had the chances, the lucky breaks, the opportunities. For this last group, the bad news is that even if Lady Luck had come up and bitten them on the bum they’d still have missed it.

When it comes to looking at what others have achieved, this world is divided into those who look at others enviously and those who look at others as a motivational tool. If you find yourself saying "I wish I had done that/thought that/been there/seen that/experienced that/met them/understood that", then you need to learn to follow up with a "And now, I will….".

Obviously, if the regret is that you didn’t win an Olympic 400m gold medal, because you gave up athletics at 14, it’s not going to happen if you’re now 34. What you can do is resolve not to let any more opportunities pass you. So you can choose to book those scuba diving lessons and, in doing so, ensure that you won’t be saying "I wish I’d learned to dive" in another 20 year’s time.

(15) IT’s OK TO GIVE UP

"When things go wrong, don’t go with them."
-Elvis Presley-

You know how you sometimes hear stories about people who have failed their driving test 35 times? Much as you admire their persistence, don’t you sometimes why wonder why they don’t just give up ? These are clearly people who just aren’t cut out to drive big, heavy, dangerous lumps of machinery around streets full of childeren, old people, dogs and lamp posts. Even if they do finally pass, there´s a feeling that it´s probably a fluke, and you probably still wouldn´t want to be a passenger on their next trip.

However, a good Rules to Success Player knows when they’re beat. If the word is telling you that you took a wrong turning, you can admit it honestly and put yourself on a different track. No one can be brilliant at everything, and sometimes you have to try things to find out whether you can do them. And maybe you can’t.

A few years ago a leading government minister resigned from her post, famously saying that she was simply ‘not up to the job’. Now, I’d never really rated her up to that point, but she rose hugely in my estimation -and that of many others- for that admission. That took guts. Maybe she wasn’t great at leading a government department, but she was certainly in a different league from most politicians when it comes to honesty, courage and self-knowledge. She’s an outstanding example of the fact that if you give up in the right way at the right time, you’re showing strength of character, not weakness.

(16) COUNT TO TEN – OR RECITE ‘Baa baa black sheep’

"When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred."
-Thomas Jefferson-

Every now and then someone or something is really going to get your goat. But now you are Rules to Success Player and you’re not going to lose your temper anymore. How, exactly ? The answer is in fact one of those old pearls of wisdom. You get in the habit of counting to ten under your breath while you hope and pray that the feeling of impending rage will subside. Once you have collected your wits and calmed down, you can find an appropriate response.

Being that counting to ten is essential.’Old hat’, I hear you say. Yep, but it works. You don’t like it ? Then you are most welcome to find something else to recite under your breath. A poem perhaps, but it has to be a short one. That’s why I suggested ‘Baa baa black sheep’.

Or you could try "I must go down to see the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky, I left my pants and socks there and I wonder if they’re dry". That might make you laugh as well as calming you down.

Someone asks you a question and you’re not sure of the answer. Take ten before you answer. They’ll all think you incredibly wise and considered and thoughtful. (Don’t tell them if you are actually reciting ‘Baa baa black sheep’). It’s a variant on ‘engage brain before opening mouth’too- that extended pause can save endless trouble.

(17) CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN CHANGE, LET GO OF THE REST

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
-Leo Tolstoy-

Time is short. This is another of those facts you can’t escape, it’s a given. If time is short then it makes sense not to go wasting any of it, not a single lovely drop of it. Successful people in this life are the ones who wring every last ounce of satisfaction and energy out of life. They pay attention to what, in their life, they have some control over and they simply, economically (time-wise), let go of the rest.

The only thing we can really, really change is – ourselves. Begin with ourselves and let it spread outwards. This way we don’t have to waste effort or energy or resources on things over which we have no control and no certainty of any success. By changing ourselves though we can be assured of a result.

(18) AIM TO BE THE VERY BEST AT EVERYTING YOU DO – NOT SECOND BEST

"I do the very best I can, I mean to keep going. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won’t matter. If I’m wrong, ten angels swearing I was right won’t make a difference."
-Abraham Lincoln-

Wow. What a tall order. This is a seriously difficult thing to aim for – and deliberately so. If you go to work, then do your job as well as is humanly possible. If you are a parent, be the very best parant possible. If you are a gardener, be the very best gardener you can be. Because if you aren’t, then what are you aiming for ? And why ? If you set out to do something, anything, and you’re deliberately aiming for second best, how sad is that ?

This principle is really simple, really easy. Let’s take parenting for example. What is the very best way of parenting possible ? There are of course no right or wrong answers here, it’s entirely a subjective assessment. What do you think the very best parenting means ? Good. now, are you going to aim for less than that ? Of course not.

None of this has to be incredibly detailed. For instance, your view of being the best parent could be as simple as ‘I’ll always be there for them’. You don’t have to provide details, even if it is just for yourself. Your aim is simply ‘To be there for them, always’, and that is your very, very, best. Now if you fail it is only because you weren’t there for them. Failing is fine. Aiming for second best isn’t.

All you have to do is consciously think about what your are doing and them aim for that, the best. The secret is to be aware of what you are doing and have some sort of benchmark where you, and you only, monitor your performance. Make your goals, your aims, simple and obviously attainable. Make sure you know what is, for you, best and second best.

(19) DON’T EXPECT TO BE PERFECT

"The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection."
-George Orwell-

OK, so you’re aiming to be the very best at everything. But what if you fail ? So long as you tried, that’s alright. Who have you ever met who never failed and anything, however small ? You are allowed to be human. In fact you’re actively encouraged to be human. Don’t try to set yourself above everyone else – the rest of us fail from time to time.

If you’re not a perfectionis in any way -sloppy, haphazard, unorganized, messy and with a ‘so what’ attitude, please skip this section. But I hardly know anyone like that. I have a friend who is a silversmith. His house is a tip, his personal life is all over the place, but every piece of jewellery he turns out has to be exactly right. Most of us have some perfectionist tendencies.

I can’t stand people who seem perfect. They make me feel inadequate. And that’s not a nice way to go through life, is it ? Going round making other people feel inadequate ? So let’s have none of it. Let’s all aim to be the best, but acknowledge, that it won’t always happen.

You are the sum total of everything that has happened in your life. The successes and the failures, the achievements and the mistakes. If you were to take any of the imperfect bits out of that equation, you wouldn’t be you.

This rule really does belong with the previous one, because I’m not saying that you can be uncomitted and half-hearted about everything you do because you don’t need to be perfect. The point is that so long as you’re aiming for the best, you shouldn’t beat yourself up when you don’t always make it. No only that, but you should celebrate your flaws and imperfections as an important and necessary part of you. This is an attitude that will make you a lot more fun to be around.

(20) DON’T BE AFRAID TO DREAM

"There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some people who face reality, and then there are those who turn one into the other."
-Douglas H Everett-

This may seem incredibly obvious, incredibly easy, but you would be surprised how may people seriously limit their dreams. They’re your dreams. There should be no limit to them. Plans have to be realistic, dreams don’t.

You are allowed to wish anything you want. Wishes and dreams are all private affairs. There are no wish police, no dream doctors who are on the rampage looking out for unrealistic dream. It is a private thing between you and … that’s it. Between you and absolutely no else at all.

The only note of caution here -and I do speak from a personal experience- is be very careful of what you wish for, what you dream of, because it might just come true. And where would you be then ?

A lot of people think their dreams have to be realistic to be worth dreaming about. But that’s a plan and that is something quite different. I have plans and I take logical steps to make them come to fruition. Dreams are allowed to be so improbable that they are never likely to come true. And don’t go thinking you’ll never achieve anything by sitting day-dreaming all day. Some of the most successful people have also been those who have dared to dream the most. It isn’t a coincidence.

(21) IF YOU’RE GOING TO JUMP OFF A BRIDGE, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW DEEP THE WATER IS

"Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down."
-Ray Bradbury-

Me, I’ve always been a risk-taker. Too much of a risk-taker some might say. In the long term I haven’t regretted the things I’ve done in life because they’ve made me who I am, and anyway you never know where the alternative would have got you. In the short term, however, I have often caught myself thinking, Why didn’t you see that coming ?

The answer, of course, is because I didn’t check how deep the water was before I jumped.

I’be always been terrified of ending up like those people I know who never take risks and who never go anywhere, change, grow, do anything, realize their dreams. I’ve seen it too often and I don’t want my name added to the list, thank you.
But over the years I’ve noticed that the people who are really happy are the ones who take risks, but they look ahead first. Not looking for excuses to stay on the shore, but looking to see how deep the water is. As I’ve learned (shamefully slow) to copy their example. I’ve found it makes me happier too. I get what I want, and without playing as heavily for it as I often used to.

I’ve also had friends ask me to support them in ways that I haven’t thought through. There’s an instinct to help your friends when they are in trouble, but sometimes a loan that isn’t repaid is more than you can afford. Or putting in time to listen to their troubles invades so much of your life that your family suffers.

So whether you’re jumping off that bridge with a friend or on your own, just check the depth first. The water may indeed be lovely, but sometimes it’s better to stand on a bank and dip a toe in it, or paddle about a bit. so you have a better idea what it is you’re jumping in to.

(22) DON’T LIVE IN THE FUTURE

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough."
-Albert Einstein-

The future is where it’s all going to happen, I hear you cry. The future is where I’m going to be successful, happy, rich, beautiful, famous, in love, surrounded by the finest wines money can buy. Yep, thos might be plans or dreams or whatever. But again, this here and now is where it is actually at. This is the moment you must appreciate without all those other things you look for. Look, longing really is the sweetest thing. Having those dreams is brilliant. But appreciate that it is the you right now that is doing the dreaming. Enjoy being alive and having the strength and vitality to do all that dreaming.

If only this or that was changed everything would be perfect, wouldn’t it. Unfortunately not – it just doesn’t work like that. When this and that gets changed there will always be something else, waiting its turn and putting off that happiness until some later date. If you were to suddenly find that you were slimmer/fitter or whatever, then you’d probably find yourself waiting to be richer or that your partner was more loving. You’d find other things to wish to make you happy.

The me that is now is the real me, the future one isn’t yet born and may not happen.(You mean I might not lose that extra weight or get fitter? Yep, right.) And the stuff I have now is at least real, tangible, solid. Dreams are great but reality is fine too.

(23) GET ON WITH LIFE-IT’S WHOOSHING PAST

"In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on."
-Robert Lee Frost-

Every day, every second, life is whoosing past at an alarming rate. And it goes on getting faster and faster. I sometimes wonder if we aren’t picking up speed for take off, if you know what I mean -a sort of run-up before we leave. But the Rule, if you want your life to be successful, happy, fulfilled, meaningful, jam-packed with an adventure and reward, is simply to get on with it. And I’m sure you do or you wouldn’t be reading this.

So how do we get on with it ? Well, the easiest way is the same way we would get on with anything else we knew we had to do. We start with setting a target (a goal, an objective), make a plan, formulate a set of actions to take us towards the target and then, well, get on with it.

I’m sure you get the idea. You have to get on with life, but it is so easy to wallow if you don’t have a goal (or goals) and a plan. It’s very easy for the days to blur into each other if you’ve no idea where you are going or what you want to achieve.

I used to think that whatever turned up would be fine. I was a sort of adventurous fatalist – I would be ready for whatever challenge was thrown my way. But increasingly I see the huge adavantage of having a goal and working towards that rather than drifting aimlessly. It makes it so much easier for good things to happen.

(24) BE CONSISTENT

"It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently. "
-Anthony Robbins-

We should aim to be consistent about following whatever Rules we decide to live by (the ones on this page/or any others). There is no point in choosing a path if you’re just going to wander off it at whim.

It makes life easier for everybody else if you are consistent. Erratic people are difficult to live with and be around. So are moody people. If your friend and family don’t know how you’ll react to the same event or suggestion from one day to the next, you make them live their lives on edge. Unless you are a hermit. I am not talking about being predictable and boring. Your ideas and activities can be wonderfully unpredictable and fascinating. It’s just your behaviour towards other people that needs to be reliable and consistent.

(25) DRESS LIKE TODAY IS IMPORTANT

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."
-Mark Twain-

Today is important. Today is the only day you’ve got that has some reality in it. Why shouldn’t you treat it as important ? So dress like it matters.

And you do this by greeting each day as if it is important. You get up and shower/wash/shave/put on make-up/comb hair/ clean teeth etc. and basically do all those things to make you look good, feel good, smell good. And then you dress smartly, cleanly,snappily, stylishly, as if you were going to a job interview or a birthday or on an outing. If you dress for each day expectantly, importantly, smartly, then each day will become that.

But what about weekends, I hear you ask, surely we can relax then ? Of course, but it doesn’t mean you should let yourself go. At weekends you’re going to see friends and/or family and they too deserve to see you looking good, and as if they matter. Hey, not even your friends want to see you slovenly, dishevelled, untidy, uncared for. But this is really about you. If you greet each day as if is important, then it will do wonders to your self-esteem, your self-respect, your self-confidence.

But, hey, I don’t want you taking anything on trust. Try this and see what happens. If you don’t perk up and feel completely different within a fortnight, then go back to your old ways and to hell with this Rule. But I can quarantee you’ll feel great and face every day livelier and more energetic and happier.

(26) LEAVE A LITTLE SPACE FOR YOUSELF EACH DAY

"You have to allow a certain amount of time in which you are doing nothing in order to have things occur to you, to let your mind think."
-Mortimer Jerome Adler-

Most people think they get this but most people might be wrong. You may think you have a little quality time each day for yourself, but I bet you don’t. You see, even in our time alone we spend so much of it worrying about others, caring for our family, friends and loved ones, that there is very little left over entirely for ourselves. What I am proposing isn’t revolutionary or difficult or extreme. In fact it is pretty easy. Just leave a little space for yourself each day. Perhaps only ten minutes (ideally half an hour) put aside and devoted entirely to yourself. Selfish ? You bet. Of course it is and justifiably so – you are the captain, the engine, the driving force, the motivator, the rock. You need that time to regenerate, renew, invigorate yourself. You need that down time to recharge and repair. If you don’t, you aren’t taking on fresh fuel, your engine will run down and so will you.

So what are you going to do with that time ? Answer; absolutely nothing. And I do mean nothing. This isn’t time for lying in the bath, sitting on the loo, meditating, reading the newspapers, or sleeping. This is a little space for you, a breather, a time to sit still and do absolutely nothing. Just breathe. I find ten minutes sitting in the garden just breathing is a fantastic boost a couple of times a day. I sit there, not doing, not worrying, just being, while I appreciate the pleasure of being alive.

I find time spent doing nothing really important and as soon as I complicate it, it loses something. If I add a cup of coffee to my solitude, then it’s a coffee break, and not a space just for me. If I listen to music, then it’s a music break. If I have a companion with me and I chat, then it’s a social occasion. If I read the papers, then I have moved away entirely from the concept of a little space for me.
Keep it simple. Keep it bare. Keep it pure.

(27) LEARN TO ASK QUESTIONS

"The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions."
-Claude Lévi-Strauss-

Look, you may not like the answers but at least you’ll know. Most of the world’s problems can be laid firmly at the feet of assumptions. We assume that our bit of faulty information is a fact and things go on getting worse. We assume that other people like our plan, but they don’t and it all goes pear-shaped. Better to ask questions from the start and know what’s what.

Questions demand answers and answers require the situation thought through, to it’s logical conclusion.

Successful people are asking questions while others are reacting, panicking, misinterpreting, assuming, losing control and generally behaving badly. Ask questions of yourself constantly. Ask why you think you’re right – or wrong. Ask yourself why you are doing certain things, want other things, follow a particular course of action. Question yourself firmly and rigorously because maybe there isn’t anyone else doing it. And you need it. We all do. It keeps us from assuming we know what’s best for ourselves.

And of course there is a time to stop asking questions; of others and of ourselves. You have to know when to back off. All this takes a long time to learn and we all make mistakes as we go. Any questions ?

(28) HAVE DIGNITY

"The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances."
-Aristotle-

Alomost all successful people have a sense of their own dignity. Now, what do I mean by this ? Well, they are all pretty solid in themselves: they have worked out who they are and what they are about.
They don’t need to show off, brag about what they have, or who they are. They don’t need to draw attention to themselves because they aren’t particularly interested in what we think – they are too busy getting on with things in their own lives. They maintain decorum not because they are frightened of making fools of themselves or falling flat on their face but because they simply can’t be bothered with attention-seeking stuff.

It’s important -if you want to be successful- to show poise, gravitas, be a bit separate from the herd, have good manners, be polite and considerate and to be someone others might like to look up to. You don’t have to be all aloof and stand-offish, serious and grown up. You can still have fun, just don’t go making a prat of yourself. You can still let your har down, just don’t let go of control completely. You can still relax, just don’t fall off the edge.

Dignity is about showing self-respect and having quiet self-esteem. It’s amazing how others will respect you and hold you in greater esteem when you start the ball rolling.

(29) KEEP THE FAITH

"Faith is a path, not a destination."
-Robert F. Logan, Jr.-

Keeping the faith is about sticking to your promises, going down into darkness rose-crowded, proud, unreluctant, knowing you have done the right thing, stuck by your friends in times of trouble. These are perhaps old-fashioned values -honour, loyalty, trust, pride, support, fidelity, reliability, dependability, strength, seeing things through, constancy – but no less worth having for all that. We live in a throw-away society and keeping your word, being there when you said you would, being dependable and reliable, makes you stand out as a person of some value, some worth. This is a good thing.

We fight shy of being ‘good’ these days in case people mistake us for ‘goody-goodies’. But that’s another thing entirely. Keeping the faith is something you do. Being a goody-goody is when you try to convert others. Having your own values and keeping them to yourself (sticking to Rule 1) is fine. Trying to make everyone else do the same as you is a bad thing. That makes you a goody-goody.

It is entirely up to you whether you pick up this information and run with it. But I can quarantee you I shall keep the faith and the information I give you today will be the same information I would give you in 20 years time. Old-fashioned values don’t ever go out of style.

(30) YOU’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING

"Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean, sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean."
-Bob Dylan-

Look, we are tiny complex humans in a huge complex world (and ever bigger universe). It’s all so unimaginably, fantastically strange that believe me we’ll never be able to understand everything. And that applies at all levels and in all areas of life.
Once you grasp this rule you’ll sleep easier at night.

There are likely to be a few things going on around you right now, as there always will be, that will remain just slightly outside of your comprehension. People will behave oddly and you won’t understand why. Things will go unexpectedly wrong -or right- and it won’t make sense. Spend all your time desperately trying to work it all out and you’ll drive yourself crazy. Much better just to accept that there is always stuff that we won’t understand and let it go at that. How simple that is.

It’s the same principle for the big stuff, why things happen to us, why we are here, where we go afterwards, that sort of thing. Some of it we’ll never know, some of it we can try and work it out, butI have a sneaking feeling it won’t turn out to be anything like we think.

Be curious, ask questions, wonder to yourself, talk to other people if you like, but know that this won’t always give you a clear and correct answer. People don’t always make sense. Life doesn’t make sense. Let it go and discover the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’ll never understand everything. Sometimes it just is.

(31) LIFE IS A PIZZA

"Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it."
-Irving Berlin-

I love crispy pizzas and I like the soft squishy ones. Any pizza really. I love peperoni and mozzarella and tomatoes and juicy chunks of ham and piquant capers and crispy onions. Mind you, I hate olives, and they sometimes appear on pizzas without being ordered. Disgraceful. And those dried up tomatoes you sometimes get. The ones that are all chewy. Ugh ! I always pick those off and throw them away.

You know what I’m going to say. Yes, life is like a pizza with evetything on it. If you want the good bits you have to deal with the bad bits. If you love everything about your job apart from the one person you don’t like dealing with, recognize that the job comes as a package and you buy into it or jack the job. If you love your partner but hate the way they sulk after a row, accept them as they are and recognize that the sulking is the bit that reminds you of how wonderful everything else is. If your neighbour is friendly and keeps an eye on your property when you’re out and signs for your deliveries and babysits the kids, you just have to live with the fact she talks too much and stop moaning about it. And when you stop moaning, you’ll probably find you mind it much less.

The best things in life come with chewy dried tomatoes and olives. There’s no point moaning. Just pick them off, or swallow them down as fast as you can, and then sink your teeth into whats’left and relish every bite.

(32) ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE (OR SOMETHING) THAT IS PLEASED TO SEE YOU

"When something is missing in your life, it usually turns out to be someone."
-Robert Brault-

We all need someone who is pleased to see us. And no, the red light of the TV standby button isn’t enough. You do need a person or a pet.

Having someone or something who is pleased to see you is important because it gives you someone who needs you and that gives you a purpose, stops you getting self-absorbed, gives you a reason for getting on with your life. But what if you live alone and don’t have pets or children ? Well, voluntary or charity work is a very good way to quickly get in the situation where somebody is pleased to see you. Then again, it could be right on your doorstep.

Who is pleased to see you !

(33) KNOW WHEN TO LET GO – WHEN TO WALK AWAY

"It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go."
-J. C. Watts-

Sometimes you have to just walk away. We all hate to fail, hate to give up, hate to give in. We love the challenge of life and want to keep on until whatever we are trying to ‘win’ has been overcome, vanquished, beaten, won. But sometimes it just ain’t going to happen and we need to learn to recognize those moments, learn how to shrug philosophically and walk away with our pride intact and our dignity high.

Sometimes you really want to do something, but it is unrealistic. Instead of knocking yourself out, cultivate the art of knowing when to walk away and you’ll find it a lot less stressful.

If a relationship is coming to its end, instead of playing out long and complicated -and potentially hurtful- end games, learn the art of walking away. If it’s dead, leave it. This isn’t a Rule that should be in the partnership section -it’s here because it is for you, to protect you, to nurture you, This is nothing to do with ‘them’ but all to do with you. If it’s dead don’t go digging it up every five minutes to check if there’s a pulse. It’s dead, walk away.

You may want to get even – don’t get mad, walk away. This is much better than getting even because it shows you have risen above whatever it is that is driving you crazy. And there can be no better way of getting even to ignore something so completely it can be left behind. You are making your choice rather than letting the situation control you.

I don’t want to be rude but your problems -hey, my problems too- won’t even warrant a footnote in the history of the universe. Walk away now and look back after ten years and I bet you’ll be hard pushed to even remember what is was all about. No, this isn’t a ‘time is the best healer’ crusade, but putting space and time between you and your troubles does give you a wider view, a better perspective. And the way to do that is to walk away, put that space there. Time will put itself there, in time of course.

(34) LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

"The Best Health Care Plan Is A Self Care Plan."
-Nina Leavins-

You are the Boss, the Captain, the Driving Force. If you are sick, who is going to run the ship ? There is no one else. It makes sense to look after yourself. And I have no intention of getting all preachy here and telling you that you have to go to bed early, eat your greens and take loads of exercise – that would be pure hypocrisy because I don’t do any of those things. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, however. They are all a good idea.

An occasional quick body service might be a good idea, a regular check-up to nip any potential problems in the bud. Some foods are like dynamite and they fill you with energy, speed your metabolism and make you feel great. Other foods make you sluggish, get stored as fat and slow you down. Now the choice is entirely yours but the machine that is you runs better on high-energy food and worse on junk food.

Same with sleep. Going without makes you tired. Having too much makes you lethargic. Going back to sleep makes you feel blurry. Getting up straight away makes you feel good – and noble. Nothing better. But of course all this is entirely up to you. No one is going to stand behind you any more and make sure you’ve washed behind your ears or check if your shoes are clean and polished. You’re a grown up and on your own now. Fantastic. But it means you have all the responsibility too.

Rules Players eat well, sleep well, relax a lot, take exercise (and no, computer games don’t count). They also stay away from potentially harmful situations. They know how to stay out of danger, avoid threatening encounters and generally take care of themselves.

Looking after yourself is exactly that. Not relying on anyone else to make sure you are fed on time and fed well, washed and ready to go, comfotable, tidy, healthy and let out regularly for your walk. It’s great being a grown-up. You get to stay up all night partying if you want to, but you can also choose to take care of yourslef if you want to.

(35) MAINTAIN GOOD MANNERS IN ALL THINGS

"The test of good manners is to be patient with the bad ones."
-Solomon Ibn Gabirol-

You’re probably thinking that you have good manners already. Most of us believe we do. However, the more you hurry and the more stress you are under, the more manners are likely to slip. All of us, if we are honest, will admit to forgetting to properly express gratitude for something when frazzled by life, or feeling a huge temptation to push in front of somebody doddery when rushing to catch a train.

However rushed and fraught you are (and the following Rules shoudl make you less so), you should always make the effort to show these good manners.

* queuing without jostling;
* complimenting people when you need to (and when they deserve it, no use throwing compliments around if they are not justified and earned);
* not sticking your nose in where it isn’t wanted;
* keeping a promise;
* keeping a secret;
* keeping basic table etiquette (oh come on you know this stuff: no elbows, no talking with your mouth open, no overstuffing your mouth,
no flicking peas with your knife);
* no shouting at people who get in your way;
* apologizing when you get in someone else’s;
* being civil;
* opening the door ahead of people;
* standing back when there’s a rush;
* answering when spoken to;
* saying ‘Good morning’ and such like;
* thanking people when they’ve looked after you or done something for you;
* being hospitable;
* not grabbing the last piece of cake;
* being courteous and charming;
* offering vistors refreshment and going to the front door to say goodbye to them.

No matter how many small interactions with people you have each day. don’t let the manners slip. They cost nothing and yet can generate so much good will and make everyone’s life that much more pleasant.

(36) PRUNE YOUR STUFF FREQUENTLY

"When your environment is clean you feel happy motivated and healthy."
-Lailah Gifty Akita-

Why ? Because collecting clutter clutters your home, your life and your mind. A cluttered home is symbolic of cluttered thinking. Rules Players are clear and direct in their thinking and don’t collect junk. If only. We all do of course. All I am suggesting is that occasionally clearing some of it out might be a good idea or it overwhelms you emotionally and gets more and more cobwebby.

Pruning your stuff gives you a chance to get rid of anything that is useless, broken, out of date, un-cool, un-cleanable, redundant and ugly. It was after all, William Morris who said not to have anything in the house that wasn’t useful or beautiful. Those who are having trouble getting lift-off are those running along the tarmac still clutching black plastic sacks full of useless stuff they bought from the charity shop and have never thrown away-or opened since they bought them, cupboards full of junk that is just taking up space, drawers full of broken things and wardrobes full of clothes that they can no longer get into or which have so long gone out of fashion they may be worth something as collector’s item but will never be worn again.

There is an ‘unburdening’ effect that comes with pruning. You have more space in your home, a feeling of being more in control. and you get rid of that slightly overwhelmed feeling that comes with having piles of stuff accumulating everywhere. You don’t have to live in a spotless house full of designer furniture and minimalist styling. All I’m suggesting is that if you want to find our what’s holding you back, try looking in the cupboard under the sink or under the bed or on top of the wardrobe in the spare room.

(37) REMEMBER TO TOUCH BASE

"Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.-

Before you can touch base you have to know where base is. Base is home. Base is where you belong. Base is where you feel comfortable, secure, love, restored and trusted. Base is where you feel strong and in control. Base is anywhere you can kick your shoes off, metaphorically and physically, and rest your head safe in the knowledge you’ll be looked after.

Base is where you were before you got lost.

Base camp might well be rediscovering our roots- essential in an age when we all move around so much. Knowing who your family is, where you come from, what your real background is. It’s ok to have ambition and move on from our roots, but it’s also important to know who we are and where we came from. You can sometimes sense it in celebrities who have become incredibly famous or rich. Often they try to deny their past and pretend to be something else in the process they come across as shallow and fake.

For you base might be a place where you grew up, where you are reminded of the feeeling of growing up – the hopes and the fears, the younger you. Or it might be a person who provide the base – a best friend from many years ago who can remind you of how you were before it all got so confusing.

We all need time with people or in places where we can be ourselves, where we don’t have to explain, justify, provide background or give a good impression. That’s the joy of touching base -being somewhere where you are accepted without question and everything around you reminds you of what’s really important. Touching base is something that when we do it, we wonder why on earth we left it so long.

(38) DRAW THE LINES AROUND YOURSELF

"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."
-G. K. Chesterton-

Personal boundaries are the imaginary lines you draw around yourself that no one should cross either physically -unless invited in- or emotionally. You are entitled to respect, privacy, decency, kindness, love, truth and honour, to name but a few rights. If people cross the lines, blur the boundaries, you are entitled to stand up for yourself and say ‘No, I won’t put up with this.’

But you have to draw the lines first. You have to know what you will stand for and what you won’t. You have to set the boundaries in your own mind before you can expect others to respect them, stick to them.

The more secure you become with your boundaries, the less power other people will have to affect you. The more clearly defined your boundaries, the more you realize that other people’s stuff is more to do with them and less to do with you – you stop taking things so personally.

You are entitled to basic self-respect. You can’t expect others to respect you unless you respect yourself. You can’t respect yourself until you have formed a clear picture of who you are and what you are. And setting boundaries is part of this process. You have to feel important enough to set those lines. And once set, you have to be assertive enough to reinforce them.

Setting personal boundaries enables us to resist pushy people, rude people, aggressive people, people who would take advantage of us, people who would use us unwisely and unwell. Successful people are the ones who can recognize emotional blackmail, people playing games with them, people on the make, people who themselves are weak and needy, people who dump on others, people who need to make you look small to make themselves feel big. Once you’ve got those lines drawn around you, it gets a whole lot easier to stay behind them and be firm, resolute, strong and assertive.

(39) SHOP FOR QUALITY, NOT PRICE

"The difference between style and fashion is quality."
-Giorgio Armani-

I have to admit a girlfriend taught me this one, for which I am eternally in her debt. To me it seemed a natural thing to shop for price. Perhaps this is what chaps do. I would work out what I wanted and then go and buy the cheapest items I could and feel really pleased with myself for saving money. And then I was always dissatisfied with what I had. Stuff broke or didn’t work or wore out quickly or looked shoddy after a very short time. I was living in a mess – and a cheap one at that. What I needed to learn was the art of quality shopping.

Basically:

(1) Accept on the very best – second best is not for you, ever.
(2) If you cann’t afford it don’t buy it, or wait and save until you can.
(3) If you have to have ir, buy the very best you can afford.

There, that’s pretty easy isn’t it ? Well, for me it wasn’t as easy as that. It took me quite a long time to really get to grips with this one. I was impulsive. If I thought I needed something, I wanted it right then and there. And if I couldn’t afford the very best, I would settle for the cheapest. I thought that getting a bargain was what is was all about. We don’t like to talk about money and we don’t like to brag about how much something cost, too tacky by far – better to buy tacky in the first place.
I think not.

Going for quality doesn’t mean we’re stuck up or a load of toffs or living beyond our means – of you cann’t afford it, don’t buy it. Going for quality means you appreciate the finer things, can see the sense in buying well-made, well-produced things as they will:

(1) last longer
(2) be stronger
(3) not break so easily

And this means they will not need to be replaced so often, which means you might actually be saving money. They will also make you look better and feel better.

Before I buy something, I make sure it really is the quality I am going for and not just the price. I still shop around for a bargain though – it’s just now I look for the quality items but I’m prepared to find them at the lowest price.

(40) IT’S OK TO WORRY, OR TO KNOW HOW NOT TO

"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere."
-Glenn Turner-

The future is uncertain, scary, hidden. We would’t be human if we didn’t worry about things at times. We worry about our health, our parents/kids/friends, our relationship, our work and our spending. We worry that we are getting older, fatter, poorer, more tired, less attractive, less fit, less mentally alert, less everything really. We worry about things that matter and things that don’t. Sometimes we worry about not worrying.

Look, it really is OK to worry. Just so long as there is something real to worry about. If there isn’t, then all you’re doing is putting wrinkles in your brow – and that makes you look older you know.

The first step is to decide whether there is something you can do about whatever it is you are worrying about, or not. There are usually logical steps to take to eliminate that worry. I worry that people aren’t taking those steps, which means they are choosing to hang on to their worries rather than be free of them.

If you are worried then:

(1) get practical advice;
(2) get up-to-date information:
(3) do something, anything as long as it is constructive.

If you are worrying about your health, go and see a doctor. If you are worrying about money, set a budget and spend wisely. If you are worrying about a lost kitten, phone the vet/police/local animal rescue. If you are worrying about getting older, there is simply no point – it’s happening whether you worry or not.

If there is nothing you can do about your worry, then distraction is the only answer. Get absorbed in something else. A man with the rather impressive name of Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi identified something called "flow", where you are so absorbed in a task you are doing, so fully immersed, that you become almost unaware of external events. it’s a pleasurable experience and it completely banishes worry. He also said: "The quality of our lives improves immensly when there is at least one other person who is willing to listen to your troubles."

Worrying may be a symptom that you don’t really want to do something about the problem. It might be easier just to carry on worrying -or looking concerned and appearing to worry- rather than doing something about it. It is OK to worry properly, profitably,usefully. It is not OK to worry pointlessly or neednessly. Or at least, it is OK but it is a colossal waste of life.

(41) YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE

"I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about."
-Henry Ford-

Sorry if this comes as a shock but you’re not, no matter how much you want to be, no matter how much you think you are, no matter how much you deserve to be. If you are not in charge it doesn’t mean anybody else is either. We may all be on the same runaway train with no driver or there may indeed be a driver (the driver may be insane, drunk or asleep but that’s another thing entirely).

Once you accept that you are not in charge, you can let go of so much stuff. It’s very liberating. Instead of complaining, "Why isn’t it like this ? " you can accept it isn’t and let it go. Instead of metaphorically bashing your head against a metaphoric brick wall, you can walk away whistling with your hand in your pockets – you are, after all, not in charge and therefore not responsible.

Once you get your head around the wonderful concept that you are here to enjoy and not here to run things, then you are free to sit in the sunshine a bit more often, take time off.

If you or I were in charge, we’d probably interfere too much and get rid of most of the bad stuff and the human race would die out ever so quickly due to stagnation, lack of challenge, lack of motivation and lack of excitement. It is, after all, the bad stuff that fires us up, makes us learn and gives us a reason for living. If it was all good it would be awfully fluffy and boring.

A slight condition to this one though. You might not be running the show but that doesn’t discharge you of all responsibilities. You still have obligations -you still need to be respectful of the world you live in and the people you live with- it’s just that you don’t have overall responsibility for the whole show and everything in it.

Seeing as you are not in charge you can watch it like a movie and cheer at the exciting bits, cry at the sad bits and hide during scary moments. But you are not the director or even the projectionist. You are the audience. Enjoy the show.

(42) IF YOU CAN’T SAY ANYTHING NICE, DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL

"It is nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice."
-John Templeton-

It is very easy to moan, to complain. to criticize. It is much harder to always find something nice to say about a situation or a person. But think of it now as a huge challenge. Saying something nice is hard because our natural inclination is to moan.If someone asks how the weekend camping went, it’s easier to start on the bad weather and the problems with the campsite and the annoying behaviour of the people in the next door caravan, than it is about the joy of being with people you wanted to be with in a fantastic setting. When a friend asks how you’re getting on with your boss, the things they do that really annoy you usually spring to mind before the upsides.

When asked your opinion of someone, something, somewhere, you need to find something good to say, something flattering and positive. There is ample evidence that being positive has many benefits but the most noticeable is that people will gravitate towards you and not even know why. People like being around those who are upbeat, positive, happy and confident. We need to bite our tongues more and say good things more often.

Obviously if you are only going to say good things, then this cuts out back-biting, gossiping, slagging off, telling tales, being rude about people, complaining (you are not allowed to point out defects or problems but in a constructive way). And that could leave you with a big gap to fill.

Before opening your mouth, try -just for a week- to find something good to say. It’s one of those things that will amaze you by how it improves your life, but don’t take my word for it -just try it. And if all else fails, and you really can’t think of anything positive to say at all, then don’t say anything. At all.

(43) NEVER LEND MONEY UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO WRITE IT OFF

"Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me. "
-Anatole France-

The full title of this Rule should actually be: Never lend money -to a friend or your children or siblings or even parents- unless you are prepared to write off either the money or the relationship.

There is a story about Oscar Wilde who borrowed a book from a friend and forgot to return it. His friend turned up and demanded the book back, by which time young Oscar Wilde had lost it. His friend asked Oscar if he wasn’t jeopardizing the friendship by not returning the book. Oscar Wilde merely replied, "Yes. But aren’t you doing the same thing by demanding it back ? "

If you lend money -or a book or anything else- don’t do it unless you are prepared for it to be lost, forgotten, not returned, broken, ignored, whatever.

Don’t lend money to friends, don’t lend them anything if the non-return is going to matter you. It is your choice after all. You don’t have to lend anything to anyone. If you choose to do so, be prepared to write it off or don’t do it. Obviously if the money means more than your friendship, then of course demand to be repaid -and add interest as well.

And the same goes for siblings or parents, they’ll never pay it back. So who should you lend money to ? Strangers of course. And they won’t pay it back either.

(44) WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM ?

"I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me."
-Gabby Douglas-

We all want to win. At work and in most aspects of life, winning is good, and we don’t like to lose. No one sets out to be a loser. But we do tend to think that if we are going to win then someone else, someone around us, has to lose. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In every situation, the smart Rules Player weighs up the circumstances and asks: ‘What is in it for them ?’. If you know what is motivating the other person, you can help steer the situation (and your actions) so you get what you want, but they feel they’ve got something out of it too. The ‘win-win’ mentality might have come out of the workplace, but it applies to pretty much every situation and relationship.

To work out what others are likely to want and need, take a step back and remain a little detached, so you’re looking at the situation as if from outside. Suddenly it stops being you and they, and you’ll stop thinking that they need to give way in order for you to win.

Dealing with somebody who’s got the hang of this Rule is a rewarding experience, people will look forward to working with you, because there’s an air of co-operation and understanding. Once you’ve learned to always look for the other person’s ‘bottom line’ you’ll become very fluid in your negotiations and will gain a reputation for being adult and supportive, and that’s another bit of winning for you as well.

(45) HANG OUT WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE

"Don’t let people disrespect you. My mom says don’t open the door to the devil. Surround yourself with positive people."
-Cuba Gooding, Jr.

If you want to be successful in your life, at work, socializing, you need to be aware that there are two groups of people to hang out with. First, there are thos who lift you up, are positive about life, have energy and enthusiasm, walk their walk, talk their talk, and generally make you feel great to be alive. And then there are the moaners, who bring you down to their level of inactivity. The second group are not the group to hang out with if you want to make things happen and be happy.

So hang out with the positive, smart people. I mean people who feel life is an exciting challenge, worth wrestling to the ground and having fun with. The sort of people who have interesting points of view, who make you feel good talking to them, who have positive things to say or suggest rather than moaning. The sort of people who tell you that you look fantastic rather than criticize you.

Let’s have a look at the people you do hang out with.

Which ones can you honestly say make you:

* Feel enthusiastic about seeing them ?
* Make you rise to every challenge ?
* Make you laugh and smile and feel great about yourself ?
* Support you and nurture you and encourage you ?
* Stimulate you with new ideas, new concepts and new directions ?

And which ones make you:

* Feel depressed after you’ve seen them ?
* Make you feel angry, dejected or criticized ?
* Squash your ideas and pour cold water on your plans ?
* Don’t take you seriously ?
* Don’t make you feel as if you can achieve anything ?

Hang out with the first group. Cull the second group -unless they are having a bad day (and we all have those). No point hanging out with people who don’t make you feel good – not unless you like being down.

(46) BE GENEROUS WITH YOUR TIME AND INFORMATION

"I keep six honest serving men, (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who."
-Rudyard Kipling-

As you get older -and probably not any wiser (see Rule 2)- you will learn a lot of stuff. Some of that stuff will be important to other people, often younger people, but not always. Share what you know with them. Don’t hold on to information for the sake of it. Don’t hold on to your time for the sake of it. What would you be doing with it that could be in any way more worthwhile ?

If you have a special talent or skill pass it on. I don’t necessarily mean you have to spend all your spare evenings down at the local youth club teaching young tearaways all about whatever it is you do or know about.

This Rule especially applies at work. It’s very easy to fall into the mindset that if you know stuff that nobody else does, then you have the upper hand. To believe that knowledge is power and you should hang on to every little bit of it. Actually, the most successful people in life are always looking to pass on what they know, to bring on others in their wake. You make yourself indispensable and you have just wedged yourself in a career rut.

If you’re not passing on your talent and skills, what are you doing with them ? What great secrets have you got that demand to be withheld from the world ? Or is it laziness ? Don’t go thinking that what you know is of no use to anyone. I quarantee it will be quite the opposite because the second you say yes, you become one step up from all those that say no. That makes you important, successful, decisive and generous, And that makes you special.

(47) KEEP THE MORAL HIGH GROUND

"If you don’t have integrity, you have nothing. You can’t buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing."
-Henry Kravis-

This is a simple one to say and a really difficult one to live up to. It takes a simple shift of vision, from being the sort of person who acts in a certain way to being a different sort of person who acts in a different sort of way. Look, no matter how tough it gets you are never going to:

* take revenge
* act badly
* be very, very angry
* hurt anyone
* act without thinking
* act rashly
* be aggressive.

That’s it, the bottom line: You are going to maintan the moral high ground at all times. You are going to behave honestly, decently, kindly, forgivingly, nicely (whatever that means) no matter what the provocation. No matter what the challenge thrown at you. No matter how unfairly they behave. No matter how badly they behave. You will not retaliate in like kind. You will carry on being good an civilized and morally irreproachable. Your manner will be impaccable. Your language moderated and dignified. There is nothing they can say that will make you deviate from this line.

Yes, I know it’s difficult at times. When people are being horrid to you it’s natural to want to get your own back and lash out. Don’t. Once this rough time has past, you will be so proud of yourself for keeping the moral high ground that it will taste a thousand times better than revenge ever would.

I know revenge is tempting, but you won’t go there. Not now, not ever. Why ?. Because if you do you’ll be sinking to their level. Revenge is for losers. Talking and keeping the moral high ground is the only way to be. it doesn’t mean you are a pushover or a wimp. It just means that any action you do take will be honest and dignified and clean.

(48) GET YOUR WORK NOTICED

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all."
-Sam Ewing-

It’s all too easy for your work to get overlooked in the busy hurly burly of office life. You are slaving away and it can be hard to remember that you need to put in some effort to boost your individual status and personal kudos for your work, but it’s important. You have to make you mark so you stand out and your promotional potential will be released.

The best way to do this is to step outside the normal working routine. If you have to process so many widgets each day -and so does everyone else- then processing more won’t do you that much good. The unsolicited report is a brilliant way to stand out from the crowd. It shows you are thinking on your feet and using initiative. If you subject your boss to a barrage of unsolicited reports, you’ll get noticed but in completely the wrong way. You have to stick to certain rules:

- only submit a report occasionally;
- make really sure that your report will actually work -that it will do good or provide benefits;
- make sure your name is prominently displayed;
- make sure the report will be seen not only by your boss, but by their boss as well;
- it doesn’t have to be a report, it can be an article in the company newsletter.

Of course, the very best way to get your work noticed is to be very, very good at your job. And the best way to be good at your job is to be totally dedicated to doing the job and ignoring the rest. Keep your eye on the ball and you’ll already be playing with a vast advantage over your colleagues. The Rules Player stays focused. Keep your mind on the task at hand-being very good at your job- and don’t get distracted.

(49) LIFE CAN BE A BIT LIKE ADVERTISING

"Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it."
-Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci-

Someone once said that half of the money he spent on advertising was wasted but he didn’t know which half. His point was of course that if you can’t tell which half, then you keep on doing the whole lot, fully aware that not all of it will produce rewards. Life is a bit like that. Sometimes it seems so unfair. You put in loads of effort and get nothing back. You’re polite to people and everyone seems rude back. You work up a sweat and others cruise it. Well, you have to keep on doing the 100 percent because you don’t know which bits will pay off. I know it sin’t fair but then life isn’t. Your efforts will be rewarded eventually but you’ll probably never know which efforts are being rewarded -or for that- and which aren’t.

We tend to think we are being lucky sometimes when actually we are just being rewarded for some bit of effort long ago that we have forgotten about. We have to keep going. You can’t give up on the grounds that you’ve had a setback or two because you don’t know which setbacks are the ones which count and which ones aren’t.

Most well balanced and happy people will tell you that sometimes you have to work at something without looking for a pay-off -apart from the immediate pay-off that we are being kept busy with and thus can’t get into trouble. Always looking for success, rewards, a pay-off, can be detrimental to our wellbeing when things don’t pay out. Sometimes it’s OK to do things just for the sheer enjoyment of doing them. They are a non-for-profit part of your life and can be immensly rewarding. No, you can’t se one.

(50) FIND A NEW RULE EVERY DAY -OR OCCASIONALLY AT LEAST

"Let us strive to improve ourselves, for we cannot remain stationary; one either progresses or retrogrades."
-Mme. Du Deffand-

So, that’s about it, 50 Rules for a successful and fulfilled live. Phew. But don’t think it is over yet. There is no time to sit still, there are no tea breaks for Rules Players. As soon as you think you’ve got it sussed, you’ll fall flat on your face. You have to keep moving forwards. This final Rule has to be to keep thinking up new Rules, not to stand still, to carry on developing this theme, adding to, improving on, evolving and growing and changing these Rules. These provide a jumping-off point. They’re not a revelation, more a reminder. These Rules are a starting point for you to pick up and run with.

I have tried to avoid the pedestrian (Time is a great healer) and the humorous (Never tip anyone who isn’t looking) and the impractical (Love everyone), the plain daft (Turn the other check – you get hit twice that way, better to run I say), the wibbly (Everyone is a rainbow), the obviously wrong (There are no victimes) and the very, very difficult (Spend 35 years in a cave and you’ll find the secret of the universe-and get a wet bottom). I have also avoided the trite (It’ll be alright on the night – my experience is it never is) and the unpleasant (Don’t get mad, get even).

When you learn something -from observation or just an illuminating moment- then absorb the lesson and see it there is a Rule there for future use. Try to find a new Rule every day- or at least occasionally. Being a Rules Player requires dedication, hard work, perseverance, keenness, ambition, enthusiasm, devotion and sheer doggedness. Keep it and you will live a fulfilled , happy and productive life. But go easy on yourself, we all fail from time to time and no one is perfect – I am certainly not. Enjoy and have fun and be good.