Many years ago — probably about 20 — my mom’s cousin’s husband cut out article from the newspaper and gave me it to me. The article, from the now defunct Rocky Mountain News, hung on our refrigerator until it became dry and yellowed. Then I laminated it, and now use the article as a bookmark for some non-fiction books.
The article is called Ten Commandments for a Long and Peaceful Life, and it was written by Pauline Phillips and her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, otherwise and better known as Dear Abby. It’s actually brilliant, and I’ve decided to go ahead and reprint the contents here. If it can help anyone, then all the better.
1. Thou shalt not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.
2. Thou shalt not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.
3. Thou shalt face each problem as it comes. You can handle only one at a time.
4. Thou shalt not cross bridges before you get to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this.
5. Thou shalt not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows.
6. Thou shalt not borrow other people’s problems. They can take better care of them than you can.
7. Thou shalt be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It’s very hard to learn something new when you’re talking.
8. Thou shalt not try to relive yesterday for good or ill — it is gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life today.
9. Thou shalt not become bogged down by frustration, for 50 percent of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive actions.
10. Thou shalt count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones — for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one.
Dear Abby was not an expert in positive psychology, but she sums up some of its major teachings very well. Be mindful to live in the moment, maintain a realistic optimism, and practice gratitude.
For me, commandment number 2 is still my largest problem. Fear is a major player in my head, one that takes a great deal of energy to overcome, and I simply lack the energy to be brave and carefree on most days. Still, I like to think that I attempt to live up to at least most of the commandments, or aspire live up to these expectations. On some days, aspiring is good enough.