Adam Winger | | living a better life

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” —Eleanor Roosevelt


What is your first thought when you see the word commitment? Mine was having someone committed for a psychological evaluation. I obviously watch and read too many mysteries. Commitment isn’t about this it’s about you committing to live your life by certain principles no matter what happens or by committing to a cause you’re passionate about. For example, I’m committed to helping others be better human beings. And I’m also committed to testing my truth against the truth of others by listening and then checking to see if my truth is still true.

Here are nine principles that if you commit to them will lead to a better life.

1. Live simply

Simply is a small word that like most of the English language has many meanings. To the Mennonites in parts of Pennsylvania, it means traveling using horses and buggies. To some Quakers, it means wearing simple clothes and speaking using simple language. But to the general populace, it hasn’t had any real meaning since advertising and marketing became prevalent.

Throughout most of my life, we have lived the opposite of simply—we were told to “keep up” with the mythical Jones. Buy the new styles every time they changed. Trade-in your car just because a new model year has started.

Living simply in today’s society is becoming a more meaningful concept as we try to save our planet. We need to buy things that will last and get a new one only when the previous one no longer works. It also means that we don’t buy just for the sake of buying. How many shirts and pairs of shoes does one person need in their closet.

2. Learn to let go.

We’re human. We make mistakes. But, unfortunately in, psychology we tend to dwell on these mistakes for long periods into the future making ourselves miserable. Remind yourself that the past is gone. You can’t change it. So, learn from your mistakes so you won’t repeat them and move on.

For example, you give a speech and you hear someone in the crowd say the idea is stupid. If you’re like me, a human who desires the acceptance of those around him or her, you immediately feel bad. You wonder what you could have done better. Just learn to accept that their comment was their opinion and doesn’t diminish you in any way. We have to learn to accept other opinions that are different than ours and find the common truth if we’re going to live together in harmony.

Learn to let go so you can live in the moment. Don’t live in the past or stay focused only on a future that may never come. Be mindful and fully in the moment.

3. Be kind and forgive.

We’re all a part of a single human race living on planet earth. My daughter lived in North Carolina for a while. Told me one time that when someone was doing something stupid or wrong that you should just say, “bless their pea-picking heart.” A way to respond with an interesting sort of kindness. I’m not sure about the theology, though.

But we need to treat everyone with kindness and compassion rather than anger because getting angry solves nothing. Accept the situation. If traffic is bad and it’s going to make you late there’s nothing you can do, accept it. If a homeless person is blocking the sidewalk, say hello and step-around. As you begin to make kindness a habit then you will find, you don’t need to forgive as much.

Forgiveness is different in that someone has said something bad about you and done something too wrong or you have done something you don’t approve of. Let it go. Forgive yourself and them. Holding a grudge simply makes it harder to live in kindness without stress.

4. Create your path.

Take time for yourself to determine your path for your life. If you don’t decide who you want to be and how you want to live, you’re like a leaf in a stream simply riding along as the stream takes you where it wants.

Develop a vision for your life. What you want to be. What you will commit to being in this world. Apply a little realism as well. I wanted to be a basketball star. But I’m at least a foot short and I only have one speed and little pivot capability. So I wasn’t a basketball star, I became a referee for 25 years.

Then develop your purpose. My purpose is to help others realize their potential.

Your purpose could be to garner as much money as possible or to make money so you can support the poor and needy. Whatever you choose make sure it’s yours and not placed upon you by someone else.

5. Time can’t be controlled.

You can’t save time, or control it yet, although many science fiction writers envision such a possibility. I just finished reading Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. It’s an eye-opening book about how we should look at time and its management. I highly recommend you take a look at the author’s ideas.

The author basically makes the case that we can’t manage time and makes the case that we’re the time we’re trying to manage. Time moves from moment to moment whether we want it to or not. But we can control ourselves.

6. Know yourself.

We worry about others and how they think about us, but we seldom regularly take time to consider ourselves. We have to examine our actions and thoughts on a regular basis to better understand ourselves.

If you don’t like what you see. Only you can change yourself.

Practice mindfulness to learn how to become better at being in the moment.

7. Respond to a situation, don’t react.

When we receive a stimulus, we have time to think about what we’re going to do. If we let our emotions take over, we generally react. This can often lead to hurt feelings and the need to repair relationships.

But, if we take a moment to think and either respond with a question or craft how we want to respond we avoid this trap. It seldom works to give a flippant response to a stimulus we receive.

8. Build relationships with others.

Relationships are necessary because humans are social animals and need others. We all need friends and psychologists who have been studying this phenomenon for a long time. Robin Dunbar in the book Friends goes into great detail about this topic detailing how many layers of friends each of us can have.

It’s a very interesting book and talks about friends and relationships. The author’s theory is that we have layers of friends based on closeness with 5 being the number of our closest friends and up to 150 total. That is unless you’re a politician and then everyone is your friend (HaHa).

9. Listen and then communicate clearly.

Listening to each other and working on our communication skills is something that seems to be falling by the wayside. We seem to be taking the easy way and deciding whom we want to listen to based on their tribe. In reality, we should be listening to everyone and finding the kernels of the truth they have.

Listening requires you to be totally in the moment. Focused on what the other person is saying and not thinking about your response. You need to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand what they said.

Communication skills then come into play as you speak your piece clearly and without rancor. The purpose of communication isn’t to beat the other person down or to win an argument but to reach an understanding of each other’s position.

Note that these nine points are about you. Your understanding of who you’re and what you want to be in the world. They’re about self-awareness and mindfulness. About being present in the moment and about taking the time to build a better you. YOU are unique and combining your uniqueness with others will make you a better human being!

“Do every act of your life as if it were your last. Each day provides its own gifts. Everything that happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.” — Marcus Aurelius