I am now a relatively old man. I have been not only surviving, but observing, for my whole life.
Because I love you, my readers, I will now pass to you some key observations I have made, and some suggestions about how life might be lived that flow from these observations.
1. Do Not Count on the Government to Solve Most of Your Problems. The government can keep us out of war, at least for a time. It can pay our meager Social Security. But it cannot, repeat cannot, keep us in a standard of living we have become accustomed to — at least for most of us.
The promises that politicians make are largely meaningless for most of us. They can promise to defeat Chinese competition, and maybe they can actually help with some of that. But they cannot guarantee that you will keep your job. They cannot keep promises to you about anything basic.
2. It's Important, Vitally Important, to Be Not Just Rested Each Day, But to Be Well-Rested. That's the difference between life and death, between productivity and zero.
Whatever you have to do to keep well rested, do it, and do it every day. I have suffered from this issue all of my life, and if you can do better at it than I have, God will bless you for it.
There is a reason that, in the Bible, we are told that even God felt the need for rest after Creation. We can believe that or not as we wish, but whether or not The Almighty needed to rest, we humans do.
3. Long Ago, a Smart Woman Friend Told Me This Simple Lesson: Health is Wealth. She was, and is, right on target. The difference in happiness we feel when we are healthy is far greater than how we feel if the stock market or the property market is up.
God made us so that our feelings largely dictate how we experience joy or fear, and our feelings are affected very much by our lungs and our intestines and our temperatures.
It's spectacularly vital to feed yourself sensible food, to avoid excessive drinking, to not smoke. Also, if possible, a sensible weight makes a big difference.
4. And This Is a Tricky One Indeed, You Must Look Far Into the Future to See to Your Retirement and to Solvency in Late Age.
But do not look only at the distant future. That way lies sorrow because none of us gets out of here alive, and for most of us, there is also ill health and, the cruelest of all, the loss of loved ones.
The loss of a parent, a spouse, old friends, children (really beyond-belief pain), all of those will happen.
Be sure that in the here and now you spend time with your loved ones, and love them handsomely. There is terrible pain associated with feeling that you messed up the time you could have had with the ones closest to you. Don't do it.
This is especially true about your spouse or love partner. Take time to love her or him with all your heart and soul. That's life or death.
5. Do Not Go With the Flow If You Know the Flow Is in the Wrong Direction. If you see all around you hatred and bigotry as the new fashion, then wear the old fashion of all-American inclusiveness and love.
I am not getting into politics right now, except to say I see signs of a scary racial movement toward a racial state. I will not join in that. Maybe I am wrong, but I will not hate myself — and that's vital.
6. As Life Goes on, Friends Tend to Fall Away. Do Not Let It Happen If You Can Avoid t. I live in an area that is largely alien to me politically.
I avoid talk about politics and just stay on thin, trivial subjects like cars and movie stars. That works.
7. Stay Away From Addictive Drugs. They Will Drag You Down. They will kill you and your family. I have seen it happen over and over again. Please don't think you are immune. You are not.
If the drug, including alcohol, is strong enough to make you feel better, it is strong enough to capture you and wreck your life.
8. Forgive Whenever Possible — and It's Always Possible. The man or woman who can forgive is truly walking in the footsteps of the Lord.
Please let go of the heavy burdens of resentment and revenge, and just cut the other fellow some slack.
Your life and his life will be lighter, more pleasant, unburdened.
Above all, forgive yourself.
9. Spend Every Second You Can Looking for Good Things Around You and Thanking God for Them. When you are in a line. When you are in a traffic jam. When you are at a broken toll booth — use that time to be thankful and to pray.
God bless you all.
Ben Stein is a writer, an actor, and a lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes cast him as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read Ben Stein's Reports — More Here.
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