Life Is A Game, And I Always Get Picked LastA little more than a quarter century ago a list began circulating that really caught on. Over the years it circled the globe with the help of no less impressive centers-of-influence than Ann Landers, who published it in her column, and Jack Canfield, who included it in his book, Chicken Soup For The Soul (the original one).
Over the years the list (take it easy, I'm going to tell you what list in a minute) found it's way onto refrigerator doors, morning mirrors, and other strategic locations where those to whom the list had spoken could enjoy, and be encouraged and nourished by it.
The list, my impatient friend, is "Rules For Being Human", and it was written by our friend, Chérie Carter-Scott, when she was in her mid-twenties. The "Rules" (there are ten) obviously connect, but the list's travels is also interesting in that Chérie's name did not stay attached to it for very long. Indeed, as the "Rules" made their way around our rock, free of charge, attribution was to Anonymous.
To put in perspective the level of anonymity that the "Rules" authorship had achieved, Chérie and Jack Canfield had been friends for years, but he did not know that the "Rules", which he included in his book, was a product of the then precocious wisdom of his friend.
Obviously, making money on your efforts and ideas is important and extremely gratifying. I'm a full-blooded capitalist, and so is Chérie. But I like people who think that creating and sharing something that others can benefit from is its own reward. Chérie is that kind of person. Someone else told Jack the "Rules" were Chérie's. He wasn't surprised.
Before I list the rules I want to tell you that Chérie's eminent and long awaited book, If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules, beautifully explains the meaning of the "Rules", and much more. Now, here are the "Rules", and (with apologies to Chérie) my own thoughts about them.
Rule Number One: You will receive a body.
Protoplasm. The stuff we're made of. The thing that holds up our clothes. The vessel our spirit drives around in. One to a customer, such as it is, notwithstanding rhinoplasty, angioplasty, and other assorted plasties.
Rule Number Two: You will be presented with lessons.
Man! Is that ever true. The world is hell-bent on imposing all of these lessons on me. And it seems that all of my lessons can be tracked by the knots on my head. Thankfully, there aren't too many duplicate knots. That's the challenge: not to avoid knots, but not to have too many matched pairs.
Rule Number Three: There are no mistakes, only lessons.
That's a good way to look at life, isn't it? Our friend Tom Feltenstein says, "Mistakes are successfully identifying what doesn't work." I should get Tom and Chérie together.
Rule Number Four: Lessons are repeated until learned.
Some folks never learn. Do you know anyone who is 50 and making the same mistakes they made when they were 25? You can recognize them by the rows of matching knots on their head.
Rule Number Five: Learning does not end.
Rule Number Six: "There" is no better than "here".
I like to use the word "journey". Life should be a journey with way-points instead of destinations: My career, my education; my relationships with those I love, with my Creator, with myself. To think otherwise is to long for the destination. Big mistake! In life, the destination involves lots of flowers without a pony, a cake, or a ring. It will come soon enough. No use me wishing it to make haste.
Rule Number Seven: Others are only mirrors of you.
If you don't like what someone is doing, check your position to make sure you are not actually seeing yourself. Taking another tack, our friend, Noah St. John, says we should seek out "loving mirrors". Those who can point out that we are often like the people who do the things we hate. The really good ones do it so that it only stings a little.
Rule Number Eight: What you make of your life is up to you.
As I used to tell my children, and as our friend, Jim Donovan, says in his book with the same title, this is your life, not a dress rehearsal. You only get one shot, so you might as well eat the whole thing.
Rule Number Nine: All the answers lie inside of you.
What happens when you go to a psychologist, counselor, or psychiatrist? Do you talk or do they talk? Of course, you do. It can be maddening, but eventually they make you realize that you had the key to your problems all the time, you just didn't know where you kept it. The best salespeople know that the solution to the customer's problem must first be mined from the customer's brain. Only then can you successfully deliver product and service.
Rule Number Ten: You will forget all of this at birth.
Had to have some help from the master with this one. In her book, Chérie says, "Remembering and forgetting is the dance of consciousness." As Fonzie said when he checked his hair in the mirror, "Heyyyyy!!". That's Fonzie-speak for "perfection", just like Chérie's book.
Write this on a rock... Your success and happiness lie inside of you. You are the screenwriter, director and the star of your own show. The rest of us, and the rest of the world, are just supporting cast and props. If you make it happen, you get the Oscar. If you mess up, you get the bill. Don't wait for someone else to choose you for their show. Choose yourself. Lights! Rolling film! Action!