Life's Rules
© 2011 P. Arthur Stuart
Updated August 4, 2020

If you would like to listen to this page, click the play button -- ►

Axiom One

Never lie to yourself.

I think, in one of William Shakespeare's plays he wrote, "To thy own self be true." Regardless of who said it, it is profoundly true. I know that there are many people that lie and cheat; and they appear to become successful. These people are usually extremely egotistical or sociopathic. They are the only ones that matter—to themselves. But for most of us that really care about others, and believe that lying and cheating is wrong, then this rule should be the number one to follow.

Axiom Two

Take responsibility for your actions.

While I was working for a school district, I co-facilitated a seminar: "The Seven Habits of Effective People." "Be Proactive" was the first habit. I have come to the conclusion that being Proactive is the basic foundation of who we are. The stronger the foundation, the stronger the structure. When faced with a situation requiring action, there are three responses: Reactive, Proactive, and In-active.

Scenario 1: You are in a small boat and you notice that it is beginning to leak.

Reactive: You jump overboard and start swimming to shore. You also forgot your life jacket.

Proactive: You evaluate the leak and put your hand or something else, like a rag, over it to stop or minimize it while you see if there is anything available to make a temporary fix. You're already wearing your life jacket.

In-active: You just sit there, while the boat is sinking, and wait to see what is going to happen.

Scenario 2: Someone begins to yell at you.

Reactive: You yell back as loud as you can and threaten to punch them.

Proactive: You remain calm. Determine what the person is saying. After you have determined what the problem is, you respond calmly and do what you can to abate the problem.

In-active: You just remain how you are and look off into space, while hoping they will go away.

In summary: reactive people act without thinking; proactive people take time to evaluate and respond; and in-active people do nothing.

If there were only two rules to follow, they would be, "Never lie to yourself and Take responsibility for your actions."

Axiom Three


Like water is considered the universal solvent, exercise is probably the universal health builder -- both physically and mentally. There are many benefits to a regular exercise program, so it's difficult to understand why someone who could, doesn't? The choices of how to exercise are virtually limitless, as are the places, and times. You can simply walk or join a gym. And the least strenuous, is Dynamic Tensioning, for those that have limited mobility.

A few of the widely accepted benefits:

Improved cardio-vascular circulation and heart conditioning.

Reduces Stress.

Improves weight control.

Reduces risk of many illnesses and disease.

Strengthens muscle and bone.

There are two types of exercise. One is aimed at the cardio-vascular system and the other at muscle development. Most, if not all, exercises do both to some degree.

Everyone I've ever spoken to has said they always feel better and refreshed after they've exercised, and it usually last for a long time. I for one can attest to it. I cannot think of a single time I haven't felt better after my run or when I've exercised.

Let's end the exercise rule by referring to the Nike slogan, "Just Do It."

Axiom Four - - Added 2020

Be Prepared

You never know what will happen tomorrow, life changes in an instant. If you've learned anything from the pandemic of 2020 it should be that things change quickly and almost without any warning. Millions of people lost their jobs, jobs that they thought were secure. Lives were lost and numerous people got sick and ended up with lifetime problems. Add in earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, wildfires, accidents, the list is endless and most happen without advanced warning. While I was writing this, August 2020, there was a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. It wasn't an attack; it appears to have been cause by improper storage of fertilizer. Over a hundred people were killed, thousands more were injured, and tens of thousands of lives have been changed---all in an instant. I know you can't plan for every possibility but some basic preparation can be done. Have an evacuation plan, have some money in the bank, make sure your safety devices work, e.g., smoke alarms, insure the fire extinguishers are charged, are some of the things to do. On a personal note, make sure your records are in a safe place and that your resume, job history, references, and educational records are up to date. I guess, I'm just saying, there is no way we know what's going to happen, however, there are things we can do to be ready for whatever.

Laugh at Yourself.

Success is usually preceded by failures, sometimes a lot of them.

When I was early into my Naval career, one of my shipmates told me a saying, when he saw that I was having a real difficult day. The saying is, "A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits." I really do think of this when I run into problems and challenges.

I understand that Thomas Edison had tried hundreds of different materials under varying conditions until he discovered that tungsten in a vacuum produced usable light from electricity.

I believe that there are two essential elements needed for success: A strong belief in what you're doing and unwavering commitment.

Adjust your attitude for success.

When I think about attitude, I am reminded of a joke I heard over fifty years ago:

There were these newly weds that had just checked into their suite. The guy was the size of an NFL linesmen. He was 6 feet 6 inches and weighted around two hundred and ninety pounds. Our girl was a high school cheerleader. She was 5 feet 4 inches and weighted about 105 soaking wet.

When they were just about settled in the guy took off his pants and handed them to his wife. He said, "Put these on."

The girl looked at the pants and giggled, responding she said, "These are too big I can't wear them."

He replied, "Now you know who wears the pants in this family."

It took his wife lest than a half second to reach down and remove her panties. She handed them to her husband and said, "Put these on."

Holding them up he looked at them and began to laugh. He then said, "I can't get into these."

His wife then stated, "And you won't until you change your attitude."

You have probably heard or read the saying, "The customer is always right." Yes! There are times when the customer is probably wrong and even downright out-of-bounds. For the sake of this rule, let's leave out any aggressive, abusive (abusive can be very subjective, so be careful) or criminal behavior. That aside, follow, the Two Rules in dealing with customers, bosses, and other people you deal with, that you need or want to support you.

Rule One -- The ______ is always right!
Rule Two -- If the ______ is wrong, refer to Rule One.

You will never know unless you go for it.

I found that the only things I regretted, were the things I didn't do. Yes, I made lots of mistakes, but I don't regret them. They were lessons in life. I really do believe I learned from them and in the end, they didn't make much difference.

Eat Right

There are at least two aspects to eating right. One being eating a balance nutritious diet. And secondly, calorie count. Eating a balanced nutritious diet provides for better health. Studies have shown that choosing foods that contain the recommended mix of ingredients reduce the risk of becoming ill, of getting various diseases, and provide the necessary materials for body support.

The second consideration is calorie count. It's pretty simple math, if you want to lose weight, then the calories out have to be greater than the calories in. The opposite is true for weight gain. Of course, if you just want to maintain your weight -- calories in and out need to be equal. Duh!

Perhaps, for most people, eating properly is the most difficult thing to do. As I understand, there are many "Apps" for smart phones and tablets that can assist you with nutrition and calorie counting. Most experts say that tracking and documenting what you do helps keep you focused and on task, which leads to achievement of goals.


We only have so much time allotted to us. Use it wisely. The worthwhile and important things take time.

I am sure you heard someone say, "I want to do it, but I don't have the time." My experience in talking with people is that they really don't want to do it and are in fact, violating the most important rule: Don't lie to yourself.

Choose a work that gives you a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment.

When I left my job with a hospital I worked at, my staff gave me a cup. On it were these sayings: "Success is Loving what you do," and "Loving what you do is Success." They really are words to live by. Also, for what it's worth, the value of a gift is not always related to its cost.

I was asked at a job interview what I would like to do most. I guess they thought I would say the job I was applying for. In truth there were many more things I would prefer to do but I lack the ability, training, or skills. I answered that I would like to be an assistant to a research professor but that I didn't have the qualifications and it wouldn't pay enough to support my family. I told them that I really like what I'm doing and get a great deal of satisfaction out of it. I have always like fixing things and getting them to work. The job I was applying for was at the top of the list of jobs I loved and could do.

A corollary to this rule is: Don't choose a job you hate and dread doing. We spend about one quarter of our lives working.

Sometimes, it's not the work that is bad, it's the people we have to work with. That was one thing that was really great about the military; you're never going to be stuck with someone more than a couple of years.


There are tons of books and numerous courses that tell you how to meditate. I suggest you use the KISS method -- Keep It Simple System.

Here's mine: 1) Find a quiet place where you are not likely to be disturb for a while. 2) Get comfortable. 3) Start taking slow deep breaths. 4) I need to meditate about this one for a while, but the idea is to "Relax your mind."

It's Best To Do It In Person

At the time, I was an Electrician's Mate First Class. Because making chief petty officer was becoming more difficult in my rating, due to limited openings, I applied to change my rating to Missile Technician. Since my ship was home ported in Newport, RI, I went to the Bureau of Naval Personnel to find out how my request was doing and if there was anything I could do to help get it approved.

At the bureau I met with a lieutenant that was going to process my request. I asked him what the status was. He told me he hadn't processed it yet, but because of my rating, which was considered critical, it would most likely be disapproved. I asked if I could speak to the officer-in-charge, not really expecting it to happen.

After I was introduced to the officer-in-charge, a naval Commander, I asked what I could do to improve my chances of getting my request approved. He told me, that by coming here and asking, you did the best thing. He went on to explain that when they receive a request, the requester is just a statistic, just one of the numerous people making requests. If a requester calls, then they become a person but there are still lots of callers. When a requester meets with us, as you are doing, they become an individual and it becomes that much harder to say no when you are facing them.

In summary, if you want something from someone, go see them, if possible. The next best thing is to call; in today's world, video call if your able.

Keep a Journal

If I were given an opportunity to do things over, one of my top picks would be to keep a journal. Most of us appear to lead simple lives that might not seem exciting or interesting, nevertheless, documenting it may prove to be interesting and valuable. You never know when good documentation will be needed for many situations, such as health issues or legal matters. It will also allow you to look back to see what you were like and how you've grown. A few ideas about keeping a Journal. It doesn't have to be just writing or even any writing, except for notes and data. My son carries a tape recorder and makes notes as things occurred. Regardless of how you keep a journal here's what I suggest.


Even if you don't keep a written journal, write anyway. When you write for yourself, spelling and structure can be ignored, as long as you can understand what you wrote later. Writing your thoughts and feelings when angry, may help to abate the situation and allow you to transfer it on to the paper or computer. For me writing is relaxing. I can say what I want, and it seems to relegate my concerns to the paper or computer. When I write I don't think about spelling or technical accuracy, I just say what I want and hope I can interpret it later.

Explore your creative or adventurous sides.

The point of this is to find something that is relaxing and fun to do. Things I've done: Silk screening, papier-mache figures, model building -- wood and plastic, visit local attractions, hike, take pictures, . . ..

You don't have to impress anyone; do it for yourself.

One bit on Safety

Never Cross in Front or in Back of a Moving or Running Vehicle Before You Know It's Safe To Do So.