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The Second Ten Commandments

Harvey Mackay
From an International Speaker, Author, Columnist and Consultant Perspective

Issue 80: March 2009
Page: 1 of 1 Author's Profile | Send to a Friend | Printer Version
We all know about the original Ten Commandments, but have you ever heard of "The Second Ten Commandments"? These pearls of wisdom, sent to me by a friend, have been often attributed to Elodie Armstrong. I have taken the liberty of putting my spin on them:

I. Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities. You can't saw sawdust. A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work. People get so busy worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, they forget about today. And today is what you have to work with.

II. Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass. Every crisis we face is multiplied when we act out of fear. Fear is a self-fulfilling emotion. When we fear something, we empower it. If we refuse to concede to our fear, there is nothing to fear.

III. Thou shall not cross bridges before you come to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this. Solve the issues before you right now. Tomorrow's problems may not even be problems when tomorrow comes!

IV. Thou shall face each problem as it comes. You can only handle one at a time anyway. In one of my favorite "Peanuts" comic strips, Linus says to Charlie Brown, "There's no problem too big we can't run away from it." I chuckle every time I think about it because it sounds like such a simple solution to a problem. Problem solving is not easy, so don't make it harder than it is.

V. Thou shall not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows. Just remember that all your problems seem much worse in the middle of the night. If I wake up thinking of a problem, I tell myself that it will seem lighter in the morning and it always is.

VI. Thou shall not borrow other people's problems. They can better care for them than you can. I must confess that I have broken this commandment because I wanted to help someone out, without being asked, or I thought I was more equipped to handle a situation. But I wouldn't have to deal with the consequences, either.

VII. Thou shall not try to relive yesterday. For good or ill, it is forever gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life and be happy now! We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get a better job, make more money, get married, have a baby, buy a bigger house and so on. Yet the accomplishment of any of those events may not make any difference at all. The Declaration of Independence says we are endowed "with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." You are responsible for your own happiness.

VIII. Thou shall be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. You can win more friends with your ears than with your mouth. Hearing is one of the body's five senses, but listening is an art. Your success could hinge on whether you have mastered the skill of listening. Most people won't listen to what you're saying unless they already feel that you have listened to them. When we feel we are being listened to, it makes us feel like we are being taken seriously and what we say really matters.

IX. Thou shall not become "bogged down" by frustration, for 90 percent of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive action. Seriously, has frustration ever improved a situation? Better to take a break, collect your thoughts and redirect your attention to a positive first step. Then go on from there.

X. Thou shall count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one. We all have something to be grateful for, even on the worst days. Hey, you're still on the green side of the grass, aren't you?

Mackay's Moral: These may not be chiseled in stone, but try them—they'll make your life less rocky.


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