Ten Basic Rules For Better Living
Article By Manly P. Hall
(Excerpt from a book with the same title)
The popular idea that a worrier is a thoughtful and conscientious citizen is false. The Egyptians realized this when they included worry among the cardinal sins. Do not confuse thoughtfulness and worry. The thoughtful person plans solutions, but the worrier merely dissolves in his own doubt. If you think straight, you will have less cause for worrying. The worrier not only suffers the same disaster many times, but undermines his health and annoys all others with whom he comes into contact. There are many things in this world that require thoughtful consideration, but there is really nothing to fear but fear.
Each of us likes to feel that he is running his own life. The moment we recognize the rights of others to seek life, liberty, and happiness according to their own dreams, hopes, and aspirations, we begin to conserve our own resources. It is very debilitating to give advice which is ignored or rejected, and equally disappointing to attempt to posses and dominate persons who immediately resent and combat our dictatorial tendencies. We are hurt when they do not see things our way. If we save advice for ourselves and those who seek it from us, and who are therefore grateful, all concerned will be the better.
There is a tendency to overlook natural and simple blessings while we plunge on toward distant goals. Each individual has certain capacities. If he can recognize his own abilities and work with them, he can attain personal security. If, however, he is constantly seeking that which is not reasonably attainable, he can never know happiness or contentment. The wise man observes the disastrous results of uncontrollable ambitions, and chooses moderation. It is not necessary to be famous in order to be happy, nor must one be the leading citizen in the community in order to gratify ones social instinct. The ambitious usually pay too much for what they get, and are the more miserable after they get it.
There is no real distinction in being the richest man in the graveyard. Many earnest citizens act as though there were pockets in shrouds. We are supposed to have outgrown the primitive belief that we should bury a mans goods with him so that his spirit might enjoy them in the afterworld. Here, again, the middle course is the wisest. Let us reserve some of our energy for enjoyment, and not give all of ourselves to the task of accumulation. Many a man who has made a million has not lived to spend it. A rich life can be more practical than a monumental bank account.
Great tension is an abomination. The more tense we become, the more stupidly we are likely to act, and, according to the old Buddhists, stupidity is a cardinal sin. Today, many so-called efficient people are perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This is not so likely to be due to overwork as to unreasonable driving impulses from within themselves. Some say that they are overtaxing their resources to keep their jobs or to maintain extravagant families. Whether you believe it or not, you are a better producer and a better provider if you do not collapse from psychic exhaustion at some critical moment when you are most in need of good health. If your associates do not realize this, they may be in need of practical counsel.
As never before, we must brighten and lighten the corners where we are. The more seriously we take ourselves and our responsibilities, the duller we become. It is a saving grace to realize that, although living is a serious matter, we can take it too seriously. Also bear in mind that genuine humor is not bitter, cynical, or critical. It is the ability to laugh with the world and not at the world. If we must laugh at someone, let it be ourselves. Humor is a spice to living. It adds flavor to work, zest to play, charm to self-improvement, and proves to others that we have a security within ourselves. A sincere, happy laugh, like the joyous rippling of childrens laughter, relieves tension and restores good nature. Incidentally, it makes friends and inspires confidence.
Unless you believe in something bigger than yourself, have some purpose more vital than accumulation or advancement in business or society, you are only existing, not living. A simple pattern is to realize that the laws of Nature that put you here seem to be primarily concerned with growth. You are a success to the degree that you grow, and you grow to the degree that you become a wiser, more useful, and more secure person. In other words, we live to learn, and by this very process, we learn to live. Broaden your horizon, develop an interest in all that is fine, beautiful, and purposeful. Great internal good comes from the love for music, art, great literature, broad philosophy, and simple faith. Strengthen the inside of your nature, and the outside will be better.
Never by word or deed return evil for good, or evil for evil. Weed negative and destructive thoughts and emotions out of your personality, or they will ultimately contribute to your misery. As we look around us, we see the tragic results of individuals and nations that harbor grudges or nurse the instincts for revenge. The harmless life saves those who live it from many of the mortal shocks that flesh is heir to. Our critical attitudes and our long memories of evils that others have caused only reduce our present efficiency and endanger health and vitality. Even the selfish man realizes that he cannot afford to keep a grudge, and the unselfish simply will not permit grudges to accumulate because they know better and they believe better.
When ill-temper controls us, we are no longer able to control ourselves. In a moment of anger, we may create a situation which will require years to remedy. Why should we spend our time trying to recover from our own mistakes? If we disapprove, let us state our case simply and quietly, and remember that we should never try to correct another when we have already committed a fault as great as his. A quick temper is a serious handicap in business or in the home. It is useless to say that we cannot control anger. This is as much as to admit that we have lost the power to control ourselves. If we resent the unkindness of others and the collective irritability of this generation, let us make sure that we are not one of the irritating factors.
It is hardly necessary. Each of us seems to have an incredible capacity to do things badly and select unwisely. Actually, we are in trouble because we have not made constructive use of the power and abilities which we received as a birthright. Others can hurt us only while our inner life is too weak to sustain in the presence of trial or test. Instead of resenting misfortunes, and seeking to excuse our own limitations, we must face the facts. Either we are stronger than the problem and can solve it intelligently, or the problem is stronger than we are, and the only solution is to increase our own strength. Others are not to blame for our unhappiness. Each man must seek his own peace of mind, and, as the Arabian Nights so well expressed it, happiness must be earned.
About the author
Manly Palmer Hall (March 18, 1901 – August 29, 1990) was a Canadian-born author and mystic. He is perhaps most famous for his work The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy, published in 1928 when he was 27 years old. In his over 70-year career, Hall delivered approximately 8,000 lectures in the United States and abroad, authored over 150 books and essays, and wrote countless magazine articles.