The Stones of Life† (sometimes called The Secrets of Adulthood‡)
As I progress towards the end of my fourth decade of life on planet Earth I reflect what have I discovered over time and with experience. I call these discoveries my Stones of Life.
Stones of Life are a little like Marcus Aurelius and his Meditations. They are a source of guidance and self-improvement.
I’ll add to this list when a new stone of life reveals itself or an old one is remembered. Most of these are not particularly deep but each one was a revelation when I finally figured it out. However I’m going to start with my values. Why? Well I can’t put it much better than this:
Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to. When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you’re satisfied and content. But when these don’t align with your values, that’s when things feel… wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness.
My Five Values
Here are my five values:
- Be honest to myself and with others
- Accept who I am
- Live in accordance with Nature  
- Respect myself and others
- Focus what is good for my health
Note on point 3 above: A human who is expressing the very best in his or her development; their ultimate ‘best self’. They are growing and changing in an effort lead a virtuous life:
- living in harmony with your environment,
- your community,
- your means and your ability.
Doing this shouldn’t contradict your duties, goals and values
Whether or not we achieve a virtuous life, depends on both our circumstances (things out of our control) and our choices (things in our control). In other words, it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you choose to play the game.
My Stones of Life
Fundamentally I believe this to be true: We are supposed to enjoy life and to do useful things. While we are still here, we are supposed to have a good time, and also we are supposed to accomplish something. When we are neither doing something that is useful or that is fun then we are wasting our time. The Stones below help me to “enjoy life”, “do useful things” and to be true to my values, in one way or another. The first seven points are the most important (to me anyhow):
- As an adult I can deal with any situation.
- Life isn’t all that fair.
- Everything that happens comes and goes.
- Disappointments are tough but keep them in perspective.
- Happiness can be found in lots of ways.
- It’s the way you think about events, not the events themselves, that gives peace of mind.
- Every day is precious.
- Life’s too short to drink bad coffee.
- Being with someone who loves you for who you are is better than being alone or being with someone out of obligation.
- Fitness means being able to play more.
- Being out doors makes me happy.
- Spend less time awfulizing – situations never turn out to be as bad as I think.
- It’s okay to say I don’t know or to ask for help.
- Don’t over analyse situations.
- The days are long, but the years are short.
- Beware of thought traps.
- Don’t try to be good at everything.
- Ticking stuff off list makes me feel good.
- Outer order contributes to inner calm.
- You manage what you measure.
- Being in debt is like being in prison; it traps you.
- What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE. In other words, try, make mistakes and persist! [this TED video has more on this idea.]
- You are in control: if you think you’re happy, you generally are.
- I bring my own weather to the picnic.
- I manage what I monitor. So if something’s important to me, I should figure out a way to monitor it.
- Life with music is better than life without.
- A lot of what we do is a means to an end, but it’s important to do stuff which is an end in itself.
- Everyone is human so try to see the good in people and help them: adopt the golden rule.
- Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you experiences which are generally better than material goods.
- Life is short. This is it. Enjoy the ride as this isn’t a dress rehearsal: On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero – Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club: A Novel
- It’s important to say yes more often, unless it means more work that you don’t enjoy.
- Forgive and let go.
- Without action nothing will happen.
- Take care of this moment.
- Learn constantly.
- If you are unhappy it’s your choice.
- Practice negative visualisation.
- Accept what you can’t change.
- It’s easier to keep up than to catch up.
- The biggest waste of time is to do well something that we need not do at all.
- To keep going, we sometimes need to allow ourselves to stop.
- Progress, not perfection (perfect is the enemy of the good).
- The more we accept ourselves, and what’s right for us, the more other people accept us.
- People are happier when they’re kept busy. It keeps them feeling positive.
- Happiness, anger, sadness, fear, disgust, and surprise are the only six emotions that are universally expressed.
- Your most vivid memories are probably wrong.
- Even the illusion of progress motivates us.
- You can’t multi-task.
- Your unconscious mind reacts first and its not always correct.
- When you remember a past event, you’re remembering the last time you remembered it.
- Memories get distorted over time, and every human has at least one piece of false memory.
- One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself.
- People with low self esteem are often bullies.
- 80% of conversations are complaining.
- Just because something is important to me doesn’t mean that it’s important to someone else.
- Relationships are more important for your health than exercise.
What are your Stones of Life? Leave a comment, or thought, below:
† Stones of Life is from the book The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness by Dr Steve Peters
‡ The Secrets of Adulthood is from the book The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin