Featured Five Rules

The Featured "Five Rules" is selected by the editor, possibly with input from random strangers. The criteria is simple - I [we] liked it.

The featured contributor is Brian Johnson:

brian johnson is a marketing consultant and professional speaker; he has presented to crowds that number in the thousands, but he is most proud of being a husband and father of two beautiful daughters.

Here are Brian's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Challenge yourself.
Set goals that make you s-t-r-e-t-c-h. It is a cop-out to make things too easy - always take it to the next level and don't be afraid to fail. I would rather fail trying to do something that made me expand my abilities and work harder than I ever thought I could rather than succeed at doing something I knew I could accomplish with my eyes closed.

2.) Make yourself a brand.
Sit down and decide what you want to be, and what you want people to associate with you. Map it out and then work hard to make it a reality. When people think of me they think of three things: someone that helps organizations with their image and messaging; a captivating and entertaining speaker; a loving husband and father. That is my brand. Who are you?

3.) Realize that happiness isn't something you "obtain".
The sooner you realize that happiness is not something you obtain like a piece of furniture or a job, the more likely you are to achieve it. Most people think they will be happy if they get a promotion, make a sale, start a relationship with someone, or buy a certain kind of car. But happiness is created, not acquired. Have you ever wondered why - as a general rule - people with less are happier than people with more?

4.) Live responsibly.
This has many meanings to me - but basically it means don't ignore injustices, treat others with respect, do what is right for the world and environment, and quit thinking it is "someone else's" job.

5.) Get a dog.
A dog loves you unconditionally. A dog thinks you are the greatest, coolest, smartest, most successful person in the world. Get a dog and work hard to live up to its expectations.

Brian currently resides in New York City.


Check back soon for a new Featured "Five Rules".

And check out the new compilation post - "Five Rules For Life" - editor's choice.


Submitted by Kamil Jed

kamil jed is a writer, producer, reporter, and social entrepreneur. visit his site - three times theory - to find out more about him.

Here are Kamil's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Don't panic.
We're doomed - that's generally true. But, in the meantime, we can be brave and happy. Sure, there's a small list of things you should avoid - especially when you're young - like long term commitments, or life/health hazards...but the message is: enjoy your freedom. And first of all - stay calm.

2.) Participate.
Don't only think about things, but breathe them - engage your sweat and blood. Be part of it, not apart from it. And over all - share with others.

3.) Anticipate.
You have one source of income? Cool, work on another one. You love your partner? Marvelous, don't forget about your friends. You feel great with children? Awesome, just keep in mind they will be gone in 10 years. Get ready.

editor's note - the only constant is change!

4.) Believe in your choices.
Are you feeling you've landed somewhere or with someone by accident? How so? Everything you are now is either the result of many decisions or just an inertial force. Much better that it is decisions - your decisions. Listen to feedback, but don't let people sabotage your plans. Almost everyone has this inclination to give advice, but not always with good will. And rarely do they have better knowledge of the situation than you have.

5.) Acknowledge that nothing is as it seems.
Appearances can really be misleading. Less is more, big is small - it depends how much you research it. And be ready for surprises. Did you know that Jimi Hendrix was a very shy guy? Not to mention that Jack Nicholson was growing up with his sister and she turned out to be his mother!

Kamil currently lives in London, England.


Submitted by Terry Shannon

Another New Year, another set of resolutions. The "Five Rules" submission below is an excellent read to help you get motivated.

terry shannon is a personal trainer and fitness nut. he offers the following advice:

"I make my living helping people get fit, but in reality you don't need me. You can do it all yourself if you just follow a few basic rules."

Here are Terry's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Eat what you want - in moderation.
You want a cheeseburger? Go ahead and eat it. You want a chocolate bar? No problem. You don't have to go on a restrictive "only eat A, B, and C" type diet as long as you eat in moderation. There is a big difference between having a cheeseburger and fries once a week, and going to McDonalds every day. There is a big difference between eating a candy bar every now and then, and eating one twice a day...or worse yet, as a meal replacement. Eat what you love, just do it in moderation. And mix in salads, smoothies, and other healthy meals.

2.) You have everything you need to exercise right now.
Many people put off exercising because they don't have the right equipment. They say:

- "I'll join a gym next month."
- "I'll get a new bike in May."
- "I need to get a new pair of shoes or some work-out clothes first."

It is nothing more than procrastination. You can drop down right now and do ten push-ups. You can do ten squats. You can go outside and walk or jog, or find a bar and do ten pull-ups. You don't need fancy equipment, a big gym, or new clothes. Squats, push-ups, and pull-ups are body weight exercises that will impact your body as much as - if not more than - all the expensive equipment in any gym. Stop waiting on external things to happen before you make internal changes.

3.) Visualize who you want to be.
People underestimate the power of visualization. If you hold a picture of who you want to be in your mind and focus on it - what you look like, what you feel like, how you act, what you say, what you do...the person you want to be down to the smallest detail - you will naturally move towards and evolve into that person.

4.) Fixing your mind is as important as fixing your body.
What is "fixing your mind"? It means ridding yourself of the negative thinking, the bad attitude, and the destructive self-image. Visualizing - as mentioned above - is key. Surrounding yourself with positive people and focusing on positive information (turn off the nightly news!) is critical. And even if your body is not how you want it to be, revel in the fact that you are improving day by day doing #1 - #3 above.

5.) Take the first step, and don't stop once you do.
I could have said "just do it", or "take action". What is important is to start. Can you do twenty push-ups right now? Maybe not, but you can probably do a few sets of five. And if you do that every day, in about a week you will be able to do twenty. And then thirty. And then fifty. Have a salad or a smoothie every day; at first you may not notice a change, but after a week or two you will have more energy and your clothes will fit a little better. There is an old proverb that says "every journey starts with a single step"...take the first step, and don't stop once you do.

Terry currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.


Submitted by Noah L.

noah l is a music composer for television and a songwriter/producer in the record biz in los angeles. he has a love for great books, travel, cats, long dinners with good friends, the wilderness, and old british sports cars.

Here are Noah's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Give your pride and ego a rest.
Sure, we should all take pride in ourselves; but when it becomes a tool to separate ourselves from others and promotes a sense of superiority then we're the ones who end up suffering. Same thing with ego - this is a constant battle for me in the music business, but the times that I'm able to let my ego take a back seat are when things get easier, more productive, and more creative.

2.) Dump the drama.
This is something I picked up from my Dad by proxy. Give someone a break, accept an apology, go easy on the waiter who screwed up, let another driver move into your lane instead of rushing to not let him, actually listen when someone's talking, don't yell at someone just because you're angry, take a break from mad gossiping, try using logic instead of emotion when you're riled up. I truly can't understand why so many people prefer to make their lives difficult by being addicted to arguing, fighting, and theatrics.

3.) Dig yourself.
Yep, this is going into Oprah territory, but it really is the foundation for a content life. I'll go on record as saying that loving yourself is without a doubt more important than any other kind of love. Why? It's the only kind of love that you can truly depend on and that positively affects almost every portion of your life. I'm not talking Hallmark card love or being a pompous arse - I'm talking about simply accepting who you are, forgiving yourself when you mess up, and not comparing yourself to everyone else. It ain't easy for most of us, but damn does it make an immense difference when you can grab it.

4.) Breathe.
Most of us live in the past or the future, which are two places that don't exist. Fact: This moment is all that ever actually exists. When you think about all of the mental pain that goes along with staying mired in what happened or what will happen, it seems positively absurd to be anywhere else (even though it takes a hell of lot of practice to try and stay here). Be still for a second. Breathe. Give your mind a break from the miasma of constant thought and rumination.

5.) Don't spend your life wanting more.
More money, more love, more success, more things, more whatever...you're never satisfied. There's nothing wrong with having some goals and all, but life doesn't deal an even hand and one has to try to be content with what's happening right now. Since the future never actually happens, spending your life wanting what you don't have is a spot-on recipe for unhappiness since you'll always want something else and never actually get there.

Noah currently resides in Los Angeles, California.


Submitted by Sheryl Dunkin

sheryl dunkin is a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company. when she isn't working, she spends her time playing tennis and hanging out with her husband, as well as tending to a garden that she is trying to keep from dying (she has never been known for having a green thumb).

Here are Sheryl's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Keep a "to-don't" list.
Everyone keeps a "to-do" list, but I think it is just as important to have a list of things you don't want to do in order to keep you grounded and focused on positive, uplifting activities. My other four rules are the top items on my "to-don't" list!

2.) Don't talk bad or gossip about others.
Negativity is a disease that we bring on ourselves, and we do it by spending most of our time talking bad and gossiping about others. If it isn't true or it is ill-natured, don't say it or participate in conversation about it.

3.) Don't over-commit yourself.
I used to say yes to everything - friends, family, work...if someone asked me to do something my automatic response was "yes!" without even thinking. As a result, I spread myself too thin, didn't perform to the best of my ability, and never had time for me. Now I am selective about what I say yes too, and it works out better for everyone.

4.) Don't participate in negative influences.
One of these has already been covered - gossip and talking bad about others. Others include divisive entertainment (talk radio, reality shows) and hanging out with people that are close-minded and not accepting of other views and opinions. If you avoid them, they can't influence you.

5.) Don't abuse your health.
Don't eat junk food, and don't sit on your couch watching television for hours on end. Eat healthy, avoid fast-food places, and go for a walk every day. Your body will thank you for it.

Sheryl currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas.


Submitted by Carol Ledger

carol ledger is an office manager and mother of two. she spends her time taking care of her children and providing them with positive influences. she likes to cook in her spare time, and has one several awards for her homemade salsa!

Here are Carol's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Your beliefs shape your reality.
Fully understanding this would eliminate the majority of your problems. If you believe that you can't succeed, you probably will not succeed. If you believe that the world is a cold, dark, mean place then most likely your experiences in the world will be negative. If you are having problems accomplishing something, search your beliefs. Chances are you hold something deep down that is in conflict with what you are trying to accomplish. Change it and change your results.

 2.) Turn off the television and get away from people for a while.
Go outside, enjoy the birds, look at the flowers. Play with a dog or a cat. Walk, and feel the breeze. Being away from other people and distractions will help you become grounded in reality, and what is important.

 3.) Put out what you want to get back.
If you seek abundance and happiness, put it out into the world first. Help others, be generous (you can be generous even in you don't have money - use your time), and show happiness to others. Once you put it out there, the world will give it back.

 4.) Avoid the negative influences.
Television, radio, the internet - they can be used for evil just as easily as they can be used for good. Avoid negative, destructive programs and sites. They affect you more than you realize. 

5.) Eat healthy.
Working out is important, but nothing has the impact of a healthy diet. And you can't go wrong focusing on fruits and vegetables, and building you meals around them. Eating healthy will give you the energy you need to take on the day.

Carol currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.


Five Rules For Happiness

Previous contibutor Tom Carson sent me the following photo with the short email:

"Jon, I thought you would like this for your site. I'm not sure where it originally came from (meaning, not me!). Best of luck in 2012!"

Thanks Tom (see his "Five Rules" here).


Submitted by Charles Malet

charles malet is a sales manager for an auto dealership, and a father of a teenage daughter (which, he says, is more much more demanding than his job). in his spare time he coaches youth soccer and takes his wife antique shopping.

Here are Charles' "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Use kind, encouraging words.
You will be amazed at the difference you make in someone’s day (and life) when you say something as simple as “good job”, “I appreciate your efforts”, “I support you”. Encouraging words foster goodwill, and goodwill will come back around to benefit you.

2.) Learn to say “I’m sorry”.
Most people hate admitting they are wrong, which feeds the “me vs. you” attitude that divides us. We all make mistakes, and when we do we should be quick to acknowledge them and say “I’m sorry”. We are all in this together – compassion will help us grow as a society (Rule 2A – similarly, when someone offers you a sincere apology for something they have done wrong, forgive them).

3.) Learn to say “thank you”.
I am amazed at how many people don’t acknowledge the efforts of others. Be it a waiter, the cashier at the grocery store, or the person in the drive-thru window, be quick to tell them thank you for their help. I once had someone tell me “I’m paying them, it’s their job.” This kind of self-absorbed attitude makes the world a little colder and people a little more distant; resist the urge to be stingy with gratitude.

4.) Take a step in the right direction.
You don’t have to conquer the world or achieve your goals in one fell swoop. Instead, you just need to take a step in the right direction. If you want to lose weight and look better, put on your shorts (or sweats) and go for a jog. Or take the stairs. Or go to the gym – even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Take a step in the right direction, and you will be one step ahead of the person who will start tomorrow.

5.) Choose happiness.
Happiness doesn’t come when you buy something. It comes when you realize you have the capacity for happiness inside of you, right now. It’s a decision, a choice. And it is totally up to you.

Charles currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.


Submitted by Xin Gu

xin gu is a performance coach who helps her clients achieve success. she teaches how to become a high performer, remove mental blocks and align closely with your ambitions. to learn more about optimizing your inner achiever, visit her website and subscribe to her e-newsletter.

note from Xin - "When distilling life rules, I have to generalize. This means these rules are applicable for most situations; please read them in that frame."

Here are Xin Gu's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Seek self-knowledge.
If you know who and what you are, you will know where and how to go about your life. This is the most effective way to get to what you want. To gain self-knowledge starts with being discerning: listen to your own thoughts, be cognizant of your actions, and really feel your feelings. Whatever comes up, don’t react, just accept.

2.) Don’t react, just accept and motivate.
Negative experiences in life tend to stall us. The trick is to move on from them as fast and as effective as possible. Moving on does NOT mean to reject the bad experience, living in denial, or wallowing in it. Instead, when you encounter a negative experience, simply pause, acknowledge something bad has happened, and then find a peaceful and motivating way to move on.

3.) Be authentically successful.
If you can align what it means to be successful with your authenticity, then achieving one will allow you to achieve the other simultaneously. To be authentically successful means bringing fruition, realization and materialization to your dreams. This is a worthy goal, as this is what YOU are about.

4.) Try everything twice.
We are often too quick to judge. When we don’t like something, the impulse is to reject it. Yet, that often carries the price tag of limiting our horizon unnecessarily. One rule that works well is to try everything twice. When you don’t like something at first brush, withhold judgment, and try it again. You’ll have a much better formed opinion that reflects what you truly like or don’t like. This will be a clear road sign for you as to where to go and where not to go.

5.) Laugh.
See the humor in things, especially when you feel stressed out. Alleviating intensity allows you to be clear-headed, and therefore able to act from a place of power. One quick way to see humor in things is to simply pretend you are an observer rather than the person going through the situation. As an observer, you’ll have a much easier time to laugh at the situation. After your laugh, trust me, you’ll have renewed energy to tackle the challenge.

When you know who you are, unperturbed by negative experiences, willing to stay open, able to see the humor in things, and always align your work with your authenticity, you are bound to be successful in life.

Xin currently resides in New York City, New York.


Submitted by Bennett Gavrish

bennett gavrish is a software developer by day and a novelist by night. he graduated from boston university in 2010 with a journalism degree. he released his debut novel, "train wreck", last year.

...editor's note - I met Bennett on the Internets (hey Redditors), and have read his novel "Train Wreck". It is a unique story and a well-written book - I highly encourage you to check it out. He also has a site where he reviews books here.

Here are Bennett's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Make time to be bored.
I hate wasting time, so I have a tendency to over-manage my daily schedule in an effort to constantly stay productive. It's a great strategy for getting chores and menial tasks done, but it does not foster creativity. As a writer, I've found that my best ideas come to me during a state of boredom. To take advantage of that, I have to force myself to leave empty parts of the day and let my mind wander. Even if you don't consider yourself a creative person, making time to be bored can give your brain a needed rest and help you focus later on.

2.) Don't do things you have to pretend are fun.
Throughout college, I played video games on almost a daily basis. The weird part was that I didn't actually enjoy playing them. But everyone I knew thought video games were fun, so I tried to convince myself they were. This was supposed to be a form of entertainment, yet playing them felt more like a task to me. Finally I stopped lying to myself, admitted video games weren't fun for me, and stopped spending so much time on them. It was a big relief and gave me a chance to explore other hobbies and activities that I actually look forward to. Remember – entertainment is supposed to be fun!

3.) Stop drinking soda and switch to water right now.
I'm no health or diet expert, but recently I lost 100 pounds by making just a few changes to my lifestyle. I know that the most effective change was to completely cut soda and other sugary beverages out of my diet and become a water drinker. I go through almost a gallon a day and feel healthier than I ever have before.

4.) Do only one thing at a time.
The invention of computers and smartphones have convinced us that multitasking is an important skill. Too bad our brains and bodies really aren't cut out to handle it. Whether it's at home or at work, you'll be most productive if you can simplify your tasks and set out to tackle them one at a time.

5.) Put yourself in the other person's shoes before judging.
It's easy to convince yourself that your own opinion is right and everyone else's logic is flawed. Don't be lazy. Take the time to adopt the perspective of other people before making a judgement about them. That guy that just cut you off in traffic during your morning commute? Sure, maybe he's just a dick – or maybe he's rushing to the hospital to see a sick family member. Either way, showing some patience and empathy can reduce stress and make you a more attractive human being.

Bennett currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts.