Some Simple Rules for A Happier Life

Rick Kraft

WE make life too complex. We get anxious, we worry and we lay in bed at night having a hard time sleeping. We carry too much with us in our daily lives.

As an attorney, I meet with troubled people living with a cloud over their heads. They share the story that led them into my office and the stress-filled steps they are having to walk.

They are anxious, upset and often have been losing sleep. They typically leave my office with a different mindset than when they came in.

I encourage clients to take the burden off their shoulders and put it on mine. I am glad to carry it for them.

It bothers me that every hour of every day these people with problems are living with a lower quality of life because of a bad set of circumstances. I meet people walking in a valley of their lives. We identify the valley and look at the mountain on the other side. My job is to come along beside them and walk them to the other side.

For us to experience life to the fullest, we need to carry less baggage, to find a way to walk lighter. Most loads we carry are in our minds. We choose our burdens by what takes place between our two ears. It is all in our head.

My challenge to myself is to choose the burdens only I can carry, and to simplify. I try to live life according to some basic rules.

I saw a list of rules that someone put together called “Simple Formula for Living.” It got me thinking how we can take simple basics in life and make them so complex.

The rules are: “Live beneath your means. Return everything you borrow. Stop blaming other people. Admit it when you make a mistake. Give clothes not worn to charity. Do something nice and try not to get caught. Listen more; talk less. Every day, take a 30-minute walk. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Be on time. Don’t make excuses. Don’t argue. Get organized. Be kind to unkind people. Let someone cut ahead of you in line. Take time to be alone. Cultivate good manners. Be humble. Realize and accept that life isn’t fair. Know when to keep your mouth shut. Go an entire day without criticizing anyone. Learn from your past. Plan for the future. Live in the present. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.”

I will highlight some of the rules that I believe are most important.

“Stop blaming other people, admit it when you make a mistake, and don’t make excuses.” A victim blames others, a hero takes responsibility and rises above. Too often when we are knocked on our rears, we blame others for our poor situation, and then just sit there and make excuses. I try to stand up quickly and keep moving in the direction I need to move. Admitting you fumbled is taking responsibility.

“Give clothes not worn to charity” is a recognition of the blessings you have received and passing your blessings on to others. How many things do we hoard when others would love to have and use them?

“Strive for excellence, not perfection.” Often we aim for a 10 and then hit an eight. Rather than be upset because of landing short of a 10, why not celebrate the eight? How you see the world will be driven by how you view your efforts. I can be depressed because I was two short or satisfied because I was successful in hitting an eight. Aim for the moon. If you miss, you will at least hit the stars.

“Realize and accept that life is not fair.” Recognize you were born into an unfair world and you will die in an unfair world. In the race of life, there are some who got a big head start on you and some who began way behind you. Take what you have and do the best you can with your life regardless of fairness.

“Be humble” and “Go an entire day without criticizing anyone.” Humility causes you to value others more than yourself. Not criticizing others causes you to value others more than yourself. Do you try to rise higher by pulling others down? Put your energy into better equipping yourself to help others rather than having an attitude that you are better than others.

“Learn from the past. Plan for the future. Live in the present.” Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it unless it motivates you to fly higher. Carrying the past with us slows us down. Looking to the future allows us direction for the present and keeps us from ending up in a place we don’t want to be.

Live in the present. Each day is valuable. It is lived and then gone. When we go to bed each night we have one less day to live. Don’t waste a single day trying to live in the past or being anxious about the future.

My challenge to you today is to live lighter and simplify. Ninety-seven percent of what you worry about will never happen.

Let others carry burdens they can carry. There is freedom in living with a lighter load.

Be humble and don’t criticize others.

Make life less complex. Follow some simple rules and live life to the fullest today.

Just a thought …

Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker, published author and attorney. To submit comments, contributions or ideas, e-mail to