Sunday, December 09, 2018

12 REAL Rules for Life

From Appendix C of Jordanetics.

All is vanity. What is it that we must bestow our care and diligence upon? Even upon this only: that our minds and wills be just; that our actions be charitable; that our speech be never deceitful, and that our understanding be not subject to error; that our inclination be always set to embrace whatsoever shall happen unto us.
—Marcus Aurelius

 After a modicum of reflection, these are my suggestions drawn from 50 years of various successes and failures.
  1. Embrace the iron. Lifting weights will not only help you stand up straight, it will make you stronger, healthier, and more confident. The iron teaches the weak to be strong and it teaches the strong to be humble.
  2. Take the wheel. You are the ultimate architect of your own decisions and actions. Even if you were dealt a bad card by life, even if your genetics are inferior, your upbringing was terrible, and your instincts are suboptimal, you are the only one who can improve yourself. You are driving and only you can determine the destination.
  3. Be the friend that you want to have. Smiles are contagious. Loyalty inspires loyalty. Stand by those who stand by you. Give every friend who fails you a second chance. Only abandon those who have repeatedly proven they cannot be trusted and do not wish you well.
  4. Envision perfection and pursue excellence. You will never achieve perfection. But if you envision it and you strive for it, you may well achieve success, and perhaps even excellence.
  5. Put a ring on it. Marriage is the manifestation of love. Children are the manifestation of hope. Raising a family to serve as the foundation of future generations is how Man rebels against an uncaring universe, a fallen world, and the spirits of despair and destruction. Yes, there are real risks, especially in the current social and legal environment. But they are well worth taking nevertheless.
  6. Set your face against evil. You will encounter evil within and evil without on a daily basis. Stand against all of it, without fear, without hesitation, and without remorse. And when you fail, when you give into temptation, when you are defeated, regroup, repent, and rise again.
  7. Do what is right. Learn to listen to the still, small voice of conscience. Do what you know to be right, not what you can rationalize, justify, or excuse. If you have to talk yourself into something, then you probably already know in your heart of hearts that you are doing the wrong thing.
  8. Tell the truth in kindness. It is too hard and too exhausting to spend all your mental energies trying to keep track of an ever-growing multitude of exaggerations, false narratives, self-serving spins, and outright lies. Just tell the truth, as you best understand it, without taking pride in it or using it to hurt others.
  9. Learn the easy way. You will always encounter those who are stronger, smarter, and more successful than you are. Rather than envying them or attempting to tear them down to make yourself feel better, do your best to learn from them and apply those lessons to your own life. It is considerably easier and more efficient to learn from the mistakes of others than it is to make all of those same mistakes yourself.
  10. Believe the mirror. The most reliably self-destructive mistake you can make is to lie to yourself about who, what, and where you are, because doing so precludes any real self-improvement. Be ruthless with your self-assessments, without wallowing in self-pity or despair.
  11. Get back on the horse. Perseverance is one of the most important skills a man can develop. There is absolutely no substitute for the confidence and the courage that comes from the certain knowledge that you will get up again after an opponent, or life, knocks you down.
  12. Find a best friend. Dogs teach us many things, perhaps the most important of which is what unconditional love is. No matter how rich and successful a man may be, there is no life that the addition of a dog would not considerably improve. And yes, all dogs go to Heaven, obviously, because Heaven would not be paradise without them.

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Blogger ash December 09, 2018 8:03 AM  

Add this to the 10 commandments, and you're set!

Blogger MATT December 09, 2018 8:50 AM  

12a. Train your damn dogs

Blogger Robert Coble December 09, 2018 9:00 AM  


A couple of parallels that I learned elsewhere:

No. 9 (from chess, by GM Arnold Denker):

"Shave on someone else's face."

No. 11 (from martial arts, particularly jiu jitsu):

Romaji: Nana korobi, ya oki
Literally: Seven falls, eight getting up
Meaning: Fall down seven times, get up eight times. An encouragement to persevere (ganbaru)

Blogger Unknown December 09, 2018 9:12 AM  

These all are pretty useful ones indeed. Thanks!

Blogger Unknown December 09, 2018 9:31 AM  

Vox, that is excellent. I like #6 and # 12 in particular.
I expect you really are a Christian.

Blogger Unknown December 09, 2018 9:49 AM  

Me again.
I just read your 12 real rules to my wife, and she heartily concurs on all 12 points.
If THAT crazy bitch agrees with you without qualification, you must be on to something.

Blogger Tupla-J December 09, 2018 10:08 AM  

@6, That is an odd way to speak about a wife you have freely chosen.

Vox's rules are excellent. Now I'm considering a dog.

Blogger Hammerli 280 December 09, 2018 10:08 AM  

In many ways, #1 and #4 are two sides of the same coin...with #11 as the milled edge.

Success depends on excellence. Excellence is hard, and demands both effort and tenacity. If you want a World Championship, you had better be willing to practice. To practice hard. To go out and fail, then pick yourself up and get back to training. And keep doing it for decades.

Been there, did that. Got the gold medal. :-)

Blogger KBuff December 09, 2018 10:09 AM  

Nicely done. Thank you for those.

Anonymous Anonymous December 09, 2018 10:13 AM  


Blogger Silent Draco December 09, 2018 10:33 AM  

Hammerli280, got one addition to your thought: practice hard and practice right. Practice like you expect under competition conditions, only harder. Vox described the high-intensity training circuit class, that knocked him on his back. It sounded like he was gong back for more, because it helps build the acceleration and impulse needed for European football. From some previous blog posts, it explains why he has so many younger opponents playing cautious around the 'old man.' Agility, burst speed, and partial imitative yielded by an opponent - gotta love it, and work your butt more to use it right.

When the shoulder heals up, I have more arm and forearm training to do. Talked to PT about what to train to, and a safe amount of additional weight to use as a goal. Need the extra strength to keep the arm steady and easily stay up on target, when on the range. At this time of life, maybe not a gold medal, but I want to shoot both accurate and precise. Then I can think about senior competition; not dead yet.

One thought on point #12. Your dog will show disappointment in you, if you let him down. He will also show great joy and love when you correct that and live up to his expectations as master. The ears and eyes are major tells, for immediate feedback. The walks, throwing and tugging games, and other responsibilities apply almost all the points before it.

Blogger pyrrhus December 09, 2018 10:34 AM  

#12 is so true...As one of my longtime friends said, it seems like all our friends are dog people...

Blogger Josh (the sexiest thing here) December 09, 2018 10:50 AM  


Blogger Warkicker December 09, 2018 11:09 AM  

This is terrific, Vox. Had to hug my Weimaraner after reading this.

Blogger Jill December 09, 2018 11:11 AM  

So many of these involve swallowing back pride or embracing it..but it's really honesty that must be embraced, rather than pride. Being Eeyore is not honest self-assessment. I learned one thing from Scott Adam's success as a cartoonist: making use of honest self-assessment of ability. He wasn't the best artist, but he had moderate abilities that could be stacked together to create success. No effacement, no grandiose thinking--but, what can I do with my actual skills? Otherwise, Adams fails philosophically about many things because he oddly seems to lack honesty about everything else. As a materialist, though, he doesn't have the magical thinking of many Christians, the poverty and prosperity gospels which align with false humility and grandiose pride respectively.

Blogger Andres December 09, 2018 11:31 AM  

Thank you, Vox. I've been reading your blog almost daily for 4 years (I am aware is not a long time when compared with some of the regulars here) and I don't think I've ever written a comment. But this list is so inspiring, that I just had to tell you how much I appreciate it; it truly describes what makes a good man. I agree wholeheartedly with all the rules, but #6 and #12 are my favorites; about that last one, my three American Stafforshire Terriers are the best judges of character I know, and I blindly trust their instinct to detect evil.
I'll print several copies of this and share them far and wide, with due credits.

Blogger Joe December 09, 2018 11:36 AM  

I think #7 is one sentence too long: sometimes, you have to talk yourself into doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is rarely the path of least resistance.

Blogger MichaelJMaier December 09, 2018 12:05 PM  

7 Do what is right. Learn to listen to the still, small voice of conscience. Do what you know to be right, not what you can rationalize, justify, or excuse. If you have to talk yourself into something, then you probably already know in your heart of hearts that you are doing the wrong thing.

Every big decision in my life that has gone awry, that voice was telling me not to do it. But I let others dissuade me.

Every one.

For some time, I've been thinking that it's God.

Blogger VD December 09, 2018 12:12 PM  

Doing the right thing is rarely the path of least resistance.

Learn to read. I didn't say to take the path of least resistance. That is usually the road you rationalize taking.

Blogger Unknown December 09, 2018 12:18 PM  

12. Find a best friend.

But don't get a dog instead of having children. Single women in their 30s and 40s referring to their "fur babies" are pathetic.

Blogger Rick December 09, 2018 1:09 PM  

These are excellent. Especially like the marriage and children one. And hope. There is an awful lot of pressure against this these days (for good reasons) but Christ blesses it and he also spoke an awful lot about faith so it must be awfully important to keep it always. Important too to pray for your children. Sincere, reasonable prayers. I told my son he only needs to find one girl. Then I think he found the last good one. I didn’t expect it to be answered so it must be a miracle.

Blogger Unknown December 09, 2018 2:41 PM  

Yeah, it is. I was bein' a wise guy, lo siento.
We get along pretty good.
And we both love dogs.
Rule # 12 is spot on.

Blogger Hammerli 280 December 09, 2018 3:04 PM  

Dogs? Try a parrot or two. :-)

I wound up inheriting one, then was given another. Feathered toddlers.

Blogger Joe December 09, 2018 6:33 PM  

#19: Nice ad hominem, but your comment is not responsive to my point, which is that people generally don't have to talk themselves into doing the wrong thing, as doing the wrong thing usually lies along the path of least resistance. And rationalization, justification, and excuse-making are almost always ex post facto indulgences, not things we do to talk ourselves into doing the wrong thing. I still think #7 is one sentence too long.

Blogger dc.sunsets December 10, 2018 9:19 AM  

Rationalization is powerful. Few people simply look in the mirror one day and have all their rationalization-disguised weaknesses revealed.

For what little it's worth, I think a better approach is to take notice when someone who demonstrably loves you has a "story" of you that conflicts with your own. The urge to argue against them is often (perhaps almost always) driven by your own egocentric rationalizations. I learned uncomfortable truths about myself by accepting others as sometimes far more insightful observers of me.

Paraphrasing Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow, we are generally poor at identifying our own errors of cognition, especially when they involve our self-image and/or emotions.

Blogger VD December 10, 2018 4:58 PM  

Nice ad hominem

In addition to learning to read, you should also learn what "ad hominem" actually is.

Blogger Crush Limbraw December 10, 2018 9:59 PM  

The only thing I would add - all by the grace of God!

Blogger Bilroy December 11, 2018 2:55 AM  

Speaking of dogs, what's VD's take on the pitbull question?

Blogger PFrank December 11, 2018 4:30 AM  

I particularly like #1 because until relatively recently I would not have thought of it. But I have since learned that with application something I have no hope of doing today will become routine in time, though it may be months. For a variety of reasons I have found this highly beneficial.
I also think the last sentence of #7 is essential. I have seen people set themselves on a long, slow road to disaster as a result of failing to apply this principle.

Blogger Joe December 11, 2018 4:25 PM  

VD wrote:

In addition to learning to read, you should also learn what "ad hominem" actually is.

Thank you. I'll happily continue working on my reading skills, but I was pretty sure I knew what an ad hominem was. However, to be certain, I checked a couple of online resources, and here's what I found:


"An ad hominem [EXTRACTUM], short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attack on an argument made by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, rather than attacking the argument directly."

And from

2: "marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made."

I interpreted the opening sentence of your first comment ("Learn to read.") as a dismissive attack on my intelligence, and, as I couldn't see how anybody of at least average intelligence could have honestly read my original comment the way you appeared to, I interpreted the rest of your first comment as you knocking down a straw man rather than actually responding to my comment. (This is not to imply that my comment deserved a response, but you did respond...)

Still, allowing that perhaps the meaning of my first comment wasn't actually as clear as I'd intended, I posted a clarification, to which you responded with the above comment, which I believe also fits the above definitions of ad hominem rather well. Feel free to point out any errors in my logic.

And now, in anticipation of the ban hammer that must almost surely follow this impertinence on my part, I confess my gamma-ness, acknowledge your alpha-tude, and thank you for your grandmotherly kindness. Have a Nice Day. :)

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