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Twelve Rules For Everyday Life

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

Three years ago, Jordan Peterson published a self-help book called 12 Rules For Life, which he said was an antidote to chaos. He followed it up with 12 More Rules For Life.

There follow my own twelve rules, nothing grandiose, just something I have learned from personal and painful experience. It’s good to learn from our mistakes, but less painful to learn from the mistakes of others.

1) Always check the local morning reports – this one is purely practical. If you are travelling by public transport, by car, or simply walking to the local shops, it helps to know if rain is expected, if an important road is closed, if a train line is down…

2) Do at least one good deed every day – I follow this one meticulously, which is why it’s always better to catch me in the mornings. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, maybe leaving the waitress in the local greasy spoon a reasonable tip.

3) Count up to 10 before you do something impulsive or possibly life-changing. Better still, sleep on it. For some people, teenagers and young men of a certain type, this is life-saving advice. How many murders or serious assaults have been committed more or less on the spur of the moment over a trivial insult or misunderstanding? If you really can’t let something go, remember that revenge is a dish best served cold.

4) Always admit your mistakes – this is a difficult one. You don’t have to admit your mistakes to other people, but you should always admit them to yourself, especially when you have been conned. There is absolutely no shame in this; highly intelligent people are often more easily duped than dullards; history is replete with examples of this, including sham religions and claims of the supernatural. Most deceptions are more prosaic, they may involve simple lies, or honest mistakes, but failing to acknowledge them may be expensive in more ways than one.

5) Never trust anyone – including the man in the mirror, at least not entirely. As the man said: Doveryai, no proveryai –  Trust, but verify.

6) Never lend money – if someone asks you for money, either refuse or don’t expect to be repaid, so don’t ask. Remember this valuable aphorism: all debts are paid.

7) Never borrow money – coupled with the above this is a famous Shakespearian quote, but borrowing unwisely is likely to land you in deeper trouble than lending unwisely. Having said never borrow, there are obvious exceptions. For most people, a mortgage is reasonable, provided you have done your homework. For some people too, buying a vehicle on some form of credit may be essential, but in both cases you should always consider the worst case scenario. As with the above, remember all debts are paid. And that creditors have better memories than debtors.

8) Always look for the hidden agenda – there always is one, but by the same token remember that just as an honest, upstanding person may lie convincingly, so too may an habitual liar tell the truth.

9) Follow the Bongino rule – the multi-talented Dan Bongino said to apply this with any claim about Donald Trump, the former and rightful President of the United States. The rule is to wait seventy-two hours after hearing something before making a judgment. More prosaically, try not to rush to judgment. Sometimes it can take considerably longer before all the facts are in. When Lewis Sproston was arrested for the murder of Sally Anne Bowman, the police were confident they had their man, but after the poor bloke had been held for four days, the forensics ruled him out. Had he been arrested in 1955 instead of 2005, who knows what might have happened?

10) Always keep an open mind is a corollary of the above, or an extension of it. A better version is always keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out. UFO researcher Timothy Good used those exact words forty and more years ago. Alas, he has since gone against his own advice.

11) Never put all your eggs in one basket. Just because this is number 11 on the list, doesn’t mean it is less important than the preceding 10. Putting all your eggs in one basket can leave you with no basket and no eggs. Of course, most ordinary people don’t have the luxury of being able to spread their portfolios over a dozen countries or even a dozen companies, but just as you should never trust any individual entirely, so you should never trust anyone or anything else when you can spread your risk, even if this guarantees you a lower return.

12) Never give up on people entirely. This is an important rule. People who have suffered badly may sometimes end up hating the entire human species; ever woken up one morning and wished you could see the whole world burn? Of course you have. Then sometimes a small act of kindness, perhaps by a total stranger, or the sort of person you would normally cross the road to avoid, makes all the pain worthwhile.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this site. This site does not give financial, investment or medical advice.

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