30 Fundamentals of a Wonderful Life
Recently I had my first golf lesson with a professional golfer. Now, this is not the first time that I had played golf – I picked up a golf club for the first time approximately 9 months ago and subsequently played on and off with friends. I studied a few golf books and received a few good tips from my friends, but frustration finally sent me in search of professional help.
At the lesson, the first thing I did was hit some golf balls whilst the coach watched. Then, he told me this: “first, we are going to work on the 4 fundamentals of golf: grip, stance, posture, and alignment”. If you think about each of them – grip, stance, posture, and alignment – you can imagine why it was that I did not hit too many golf balls in that first lesson. The swing – that all important element that is the final determinant of how the ball is hit – would not be the focus until I had the fundamentals under control.
This golf lesson got me thinking. It seems to me that there are certain fundamentals not only in golf, but in life, that we should have under control before we turn our attention to loftier ambitions. For example, many people who desire wealth will begin investing (the swing) without developing any financial intelligence (the fundamentals).
For the non-golfers out there, another great metaphor is the construction of your dream home. Imagine you are wanting to build a beautiful, multi-level home (your life). Once the site is prepared and you are ready to build, the first step is the laying of the foundation (the fundamentals). It is crucial that this foundation is strong, for if it is upon this that the rest of the house is built.
Here then are what I consider to be 30 fundamentals of a wonderful life. Yes -I’m sure there are more, but if you can manage to get each of these under control you will have a strong foundation upon which to build a wonderful life.
Defining what success means to YOU: success will mean different things to different people. In these modern times, traditional ideas of success involving impressive job titles and high salaries are being challenged by such ideas as “time affluence”. Decide what is important to you, and don’t waste time chasing someone else’s idea of success.
Strong work ethic: expecting great success without being willing to work hard for it is a recipe for mediocrity. If it seems that others just get lucky, remember the following quote from the famous golfer Gary Player:
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” – Gary Player
Focus on adding value: stop focusing on what you want, and start thinking of how you can add value to other people. When you help other people get what they want, they will be more willing to help you.
Abundance mentality: this is the understanding that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. With this mentality, you are willing to share prestige, recognition, and profits.
Motivation: what drives you to succeed? When you understand the reasons behind what you do (eg to provide for your family), you will gain purpose and clarity.
Goals: there have been numerous studies that have shown people who set goals are more likely to succeed than people who do not. By setting goals, you focus your attention on a target which, in turn, focuses your mind on finding ways to get there.
A curious mind: a curious mind loves to learn new things. If you have ever watched a small child play you will know exactly what I mean. So instead of just accepting things “as is”, ask yourself the questions: What? How? Why? Who? When?
An open mind: some of our beliefs and actions are so ingrained that we automatically disregard any evidence that we should think or act otherwise. Keep an open mind, and you may just come across a better way of seeing or doing things.
A willingness to change: it is one thing to want to live a better life, but are you really willing to make the necessary changes? The following quote explains this concept perfectly:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein
Defining your values and principles: who are you? What are you about? And what do you value? If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend taking the time to write a personal mission statement.
Awareness: are you on autopilot? If so, turn it off and decide to live consciously. In short, this means to being committed to awareness as a way of existing in the world. Awareness of your beliefs, awareness of your own power, and awareness of your freedom to choose your own destiny.
Self-discipline: you may have the best intentions in the world, but without self-discipline you will fall victim to the temptation. If you have problems with self-discipline, burn the following quote into your memory and recall it whenever temptation arises:
“The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret”
The ability to enjoy the now: it’s important to plan for the future, but too many people have “destination addiction” which means they can’t enjoy then present. Stop. And enjoy this very moment….
Find your purpose: in his book Happier, author Tal Ben Shahar defines happiness as:
“The overall experience of pleasure and meaning.”
Different people find different ways to fill their life with meaning. One thing is clear though: meaning comes from developing a sense of purpose.
Gratitude: instead of focusing on what you don’t have, try appreciating what you do have. If you are reading this, chances are you are better off than the vast majority of the world’s population.
Quality relationships: happiness is closely linked to the quality of your relationships in your life. Take the time to keep in touch with friends and family.
Perspective: when things get tough, it is so important to be able to step back and gain some perspective on life.
Accepting those things that cannot be changed: I have always loved the profound wisdom of the following quote, commonly known as the Serenity Prayer:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Financial intelligence: before investing in real estate or the stock market, invest in yourself by developing your own financial intelligence. As they say, knowledge is power.
Spend less than you earn: to gain wealth, you must spend less than you earn. Just consider the opposite for a moment: if you spend more than you earn, you are accumulating debt.
Proper management of debt: have you ever felt up to your eyeballs in debt? It’s not a good feeling. There are circumstances where debt is good, but if you fall into the debt trap you can become a slave to making the repayments.
Patience:Without patience, you will be drawn towards high risk investments such as speculative stocks or get rich quick schemes. Sure there are some winners who get rich quick, but there are also a lot of people who get hurt (especially if they haven’t taken the time to develop their financial intelligence). Be prepared to get rich slowly.
Adequate protection of assets: it is one thing to accumulate assets, but if they are not adequately protected you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Life does go awry every so often, so be prepared.
Recognize the importance of your health: it is often said that “your health is your wealth”. Many people do not, however, appreciate their health until it is gone. Save yourself a lot of pain, and learn from others’ mistakes.
Exercise: if you want to be fit and healthy, you must exercise.
A healthy diet: there is truth to the old saying “you are what you eat”. If you want to live a long and healthy life, make sure you maintain a healthy diet. Yes, this is common sense – but common sense does not necessarily translate to common practice.
Treat others as you would like to be treated: this is known as the Ethic of Reciprocity, or the “Golden Rule”. Imagine if everyone lived by this principle.
Love yourself: I don’t mean this in a vain sense. I just believe that before asking another person to love you, you should take the time to find things you love about yourself.
Have good manners: good manners are said to be the lubricant of social interaction. Saying “please” shows you respect someone, and saying “thank you” tells them you appreciate them.
Be real: show a genuine interest in other people. And don’t be afraid to let them see the real you, even if it means you feel vulnerable. I believe it is when you are at your most vulnerable that people fall in love with you.
Photo by Nikos Koutoulas