Rules For Livin’

Advice I’ll Give My Kids, If I’m Unlucky Enough To Have Any

Don’t cause suffering.

You’ll never be happy if you’re trying to live up to someone else’s idea of happiness or success. Happiness can only come from within.

To understand human nature, read the works of Terry Pratchett. Yeah, he wrote a lot, so you can get by just reading Mort, Wyrd Sisters, Small Gods, Men At Arms, Hogfather, Carpe Jugulum, Night Watch, The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full Of Sky, Wintersmith, The Shepherd’s Crown, and Nation.

Alcohol can make good times better, and bad times more bearable. It can also destroy you. Tread carefully.

Most of the things you do are out of habit. Good habits are hard to establish, and bad habits are damn near impossible to get rid of.

Study logic if you don’t want people to take advantage of you.

I don’t know if ethical consumption accomplishes anything, but things that are ethically made tend to be higher quality than the stuff that comes out of sweatshops.

Having a dog is probably the best way to improve your life, but dogs are a huge responsibility. They require an enormous amount of time, energy, patience, and money. Dogs are faithful, loving companions : if you can’t provide them with what they deserve, then don’t get one.

Don’t believe everything you read. Especially if I wrote it.

There’s a pretty good chance that you don’t like school. If you put in the effort now, you will absolutely appreciate it later on. If you try to coast now, you’ll regret it. I did.

To understand compassion and forgiveness, read the works of Spider Robinson. At the very least, read the Stardance trilogy, and the Callahan’s series.

Marijuana is pretty awesome, but it can also have some unwelcome consequences. From a health perspective, you should probably wait until you’re at least 25. From the perspective of being an open-minded, interesting person, you should definitely try it before you hit 22. Either way, do the research yourself, and be responsible about it.

If you’re going to get a dog, it’s almost always best to get it from a shelter.

Eyewitnesses are highly unreliable. So is memory. So am I.

People are people, the world over. The colour of your skin, the language you speak, your metaphysical beliefs, the contents of your underwear — none of that affects your worth as a human being.

You might be able to forgive the Germans, but I never will.

Just because you make great art, it doesn’t mean you’re a decent person. You can appreciate works of art created by someone without inviting them to your dinner parties.

Stand up against oppression. That won’t always be easy, but it will always be worthwhile.

If you want to understand practical moral behaviour, read the works of Diane Duane, especially her Young Wizards series.

You can judge someone by how they treat people over whom they have power. You will be judged the same way.

For moral and practical reasons, live up to your responsibilities and keep your promises. It will make you a better person, and it will make life easier.

Everyone should be able to cook, perform basic first aid, survive a night in the woods, balance their budget, present a reasoned argument, carry out basic home repair, and dispose of a body.

People are easily manipulated. This includes you.

Climate change may be the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, and your generation may be one of the last that can do anything about it. Take action, both in your own life and on the level of society. At the same time, recognize that failure is a possibility — be ready for shit to hit the fan.

Everyone is living their own life, and facing their own struggles. What works for you won’t work for everyone. Expecting others to live up to your standards is a recipe for disappointment.

Keep a Swiss Army Knife on your keychain — make sure it’s one of the models with scissors.

Give blood.

Something isn’t inherently better just because it costs more, but you often get what you pay for. Learn the difference between quality and price.

Paying $50 for a pair of boots that will only last a few months is stupid. Paying $700 for a fashionable pair of boots that might last a year or two isn’t much smarter. Paying $300 for a pair of boots that will out-live you is smart. Paying $80 for a slightly-used pair of those same boots is cunning.

Enjoying certain kinds of popular culture is great, but don’t let that define your identity. You are so much more than the TV shows you watch and the books you read.

Even if you don’t enjoy it, you should probably read the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare. They are foundational works in Western art, and you’re going to miss out on a whole lot if you aren’t familiar with them.

Like it or not (and I absolutely don’t like it), people from real life will judge you based on your social media. Be careful what you put online.

Food is awesome, delicious, and one of the great pleasures in life. And if you eat too much of it, you will die way too early. Learn to love moderation.

Be suspicious of authority figures, especially police.

Do what you can, and trust to fate for the rest.

Honesty is often the best policy, but it can also get you killed. Use some common sense.

Always use a condom.

Don’t believe anything without evidence. If new evidence arises, be ready to change your beliefs.

Whenever someone tries to convince you of something, ask yourself “What’s in it for them?”

Homeopathy and chiropractic are bullshit. So are most other kinds of “alternative medicine”. If it worked, it would just be called “medicine”. Those who think they work are generally being fooled by the placebo effect, arguments from authority, and post hoc ergo propter hoc. If you don’t know what those things are, then you probably shouldn’t be making decisions about your health-care.

Don’t have sex with someone unless they’re giving enthusiastic, informed consent. If you don’t know what that means, you ABSOLUTELY should not be having sex.

Study philosophy. It will make you unhappy, unemployable, and probably unhygienic, but it will also help you realize that none of those things matter.

Sometimes things just happen.

Read. Read things you disagree with. Read things you’ve never read before. Read books. Read magazines. Read cereal boxes. Just read.

You can’t control the world — you can only control the way you respond to it. And you can’t always do that.

Get enough sleep.

Anything that leads you to believe the world is other than it is can be dangerous.

Defend the weak, give to the poor, and always buy me a drink.

In an ideal world, art would only have to be beautiful. Unfortunately, our world is far from ideal, and artists need to consider the messages they’re sending.

The things you read, watch, and listen to shape the way you see the world. Pay attention to what they’re telling you — don’t accept anything uncritically.

Many people believe that if something bad happens to you, you must have done something to deserve it. This is called the Just World Fallacy, and although it’s obviously untrue, it’s also a popular psychological defense mechanism — if bad things only happen to people who deserve it, and you don’t deserve to have anything bad happen to you, then nothing bad will happen to you. Not only is this foolish, it means that people who hold this view tend to lack empathy for people who are suffering, and are unwilling to change harmful systems.

Sometimes you need to accept an imperfect solution. Tinkering and nitpicking in order to figure out the perfect solution will often waste more time and energy than that solution will save.

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. There’s a lot of shit out there that ain’t worth doing.

Just because something is legal, it isn’t necessarily moral. Just because something is illegal, it isn’t necessarily immoral. If you’re going to break the law, be very careful.

Forgive those who trespass against you, but be very cautious about giving them a second chance.

Take pride in your appearance, the way you present yourself, and the general state of your home, but keep it in perspective, and shun vanity.

Revenge is a sucker’s game.

Sadly, your success in life is largely determined by luck, not by your own efforts or merit. It’s OK to take pride in your accomplishments, but recognize the contribution of external factors.

Approach the universe with hope, curiosity, joy, and kindness.

One day you will die. Make your life worthwhile. Leave the world a better place.