I’ve seen a lot of stories in places about how to succeed through personal growth. I’ll be polite and not offer a critique thereof. Because one learns from one’s mistakes, and I’ve got many years of major screw-ups, here is some dynamite advice for those who will do what it takes to get a better life.

Rule 1 Choose your parents well. I did well, but tall, thin and rich would have been better.
Rule 2 Don’t let your weight exceed your knees’ carrying capacity. Exceeding those limits, leg pressing up to 500 pounds and jumping off things has blown my knees.

Rule 3 Take good care of your teeth and gums. This should begin as your permanent teeth erupt, otherwise it’s too late. Besides all of my youthful cavities, I had my first crown decades ago from eating peanut brittle. Since then my original cavities are wearing out and I’ve had root canal. At least with modern dentistry, the pain is small, but the expense has probably been adequate to feed a small village for a year.

Rule 4 When exercising and you hear a tearing sound, stop and check your clothing. If it is your body that is tearing, stop that exercise. I thought that it was just my aorta ripping, but it probably was my hernia and my shoulder. Left shoulder now has five diagnoses which I can remember sometimes – degenerative joint disease, arthritis, bone spur, calcification and floating bodies (that last is creepy).

Rule 5 Don’t put much faith in political parties. One party, which gets support from some billionaires, would tell you how horrible billionaires are. I’d trust Bill Gates to do the right thing before a politician. The other party says things which could be translated as “don’t be poor”. A pox on both their houses.

Rule 6 The old cliché was that men (as I said, old cliché) died within six months of retiring because their whole life was based on work. Most of the retired people that I know are physically and mentally engaged and lead useful lives. For me it is volunteering in park restoration and a non-profit bookstore, hiking and snowshoeing (when there is snow in appropriate amounts). Reading local author Cheryl Strayed’s Wild has prompted me to write and get published many fine things. Not all of them are fine as you can see. Find something you like to do outside of work.

Rule 7 Be judgmental. This one goes against current orthodoxy. If you cannot change someone close to you who is seriously wrong, dump that person. If that drunk or racist (or any one of a number things) can’t or won’t change, put some distance between you. I’ve missed or overlooked some of these things and I learned to regret it.

Rule 8 If you have the whip hand in a relationship, use it gently. My foolishness had a part in breaking a serious relationship. Long term that was a good thing, but still.  
Rule 9 You can’t be whatever you want. I’d like to be able to sing like Al Green or Little Richard and play in the NBA. Not going to happen. Consider your real options.
Rule 10 Don’t become blackout drunk. If you do, you’ll have to accept what people said you did. In my case, it was not flattering.

Rule 11 About the only non-controversial health advice is exercise, fruits, vegetables, tap water and not-smoking. My mother who was a smoker, but otherwise healthy, probably would have lived to 100 if she hadn’t smoked. She only made it to 94.
Rule 12 There are problems that you can run away from. House fires come to mind.

Rule 13 Support population control and oppose war and the military-industrial complex. About war – Viet Nam, Iraq and Libya – that should be sufficient. The world’s human population is on track for disaster. Consider lebensraum, that woman that walks ten miles for water, pollution, devastation of resources. Above all war and human overpopulation, along with so many other tragedies, are related. This idea took form in my fictional “Attack”, “War” and “Reprieve”.

Rule 14 Pick and eat the low hanging fruit unless it is poisonous.
Rule 15 The best advice I ever got came too late “Don’t get old”.
Rule 16 More of a personal preference than a rule. I allow myself some harmless quirks. I don’t care for man buns, absurd shoulder pads on women, the misuse of “issue” and hundreds of other things. Because I’m mostly a decent guy I cut myself some slack.