Words to Live By

Words to Live By

As I get older (reticent to say mature), there are a few things I try to keep in mind. I guess you could call them words to live by. They may not be life changing, but they are things I’ll mention to my daughter as she grows up, especially if she grows up to be anything like her Pa.


If something brings you joy and isn’t hurting anyone, enjoy it! Don’t apologise.

Starting with the biggest one, which I learnt in college.

I realised that concerning myself too much with what other people thought was energy-sapping and pointless. I’m not sure how or why it clicked, but I’ll happily tell people about watching Steps perform live, completing Metal Gear Solid 25 times, or crying whilst watching The Dark Knight Rises.

Any issues with the things that are bringing me joy aren’t mine, so I’m not going to concern myself with them. So spend your energy enjoying things, not worrying about how it’s perceived.

Ride the wave.

Act on something when you’re interest is piqued. That wave has risen up, so ride it for as long as it lasts. When it subsides, move onto the next one, and don’t feel bad about it. Doing something when your heart isn’t it, especially a hobby, can be damaging to your relationship with it.

This ties into the “sunk cost fallacy”; when you continue an endeavour due to already already invested costs (time, money, energy).

The X-Wing Miniatures game taught me this one. Full of highs and lows, I’ve loved and hated the game. The first time I decided to take a break I was terrified that I’d wasted the substantial amount of money I’d invested. Sure enough, I came back around, and now I have a healthy relationship with it. Sometimes I play and sometimes I don’t. In the meantime I ride other waves, which may not even be games. It’s not going anywhere, so I don’t worry about it.

Close the loop.

My most recent addition to the ‘words to live by’ set. This is a very recent discovery but an extremely worthwhile one. An open loop is something that is unfinished, or something that’s on your mind. Unless there’s a way to close it, or at least put it down for now, it will drive you crazy.

Handing it off can take the shape of taking the next step, or even be as simple as writing it all down. I’ve found keeping notes and to-do lists immensely helpful in this regard. The open loops are in those words, not in my head.

You can’t always close loops, and some are good to keep open and think about. But close them off when appropriate and give yourself a break. You’ve likely got enough on your plate, so do yourself a favour.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

This quote by Ted Roosevelt covers several points for me. You do not know what is going on in other people’s lives. Perhaps they’ve got a nice car, or they go on lots of holidays. It’s safe to assume they also have their own problems to deal with. Most importantly, if you spend your energy thinking about how things are so good for others, you’re losing sight of what is good in your own situation. There’s a tendency to compare from a place of weakness, so you’re rarely going to come out of it well. Also be aware that you might be comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle or end.

If you can’t forget it, act on it.

Things don’t always go how you’d like. It’s perfectly natural to have things go against you, and for people to say and do things that you don’t agree with. You can either forget it and move on, or you can raise the issue and tackle it.

This is a particularly sore point that I’ve learnt the hard way. Do not sit on things and hope they’ll go away! I struggle with anything resembling confrontation, and procrastination on this sort of thing this has cost me. Recently I’ve acted more positively in just such a situation and been surprised by people’s responses. People can be oblivious, so pointing out how something has made you feel is worthwhile.

Stinky Pete

It turns out Toy Story 2 had a massive effect on me growing up. I continue to be haunted by the story of Prospector Pete being kept mint in box for decades. He became lonely and embittered. So if I’m not using something, or can’t display it, I try to move it on. Use things and love them. If that isn’t happening what’s the point? You don’t want a load of Stinky Pete’s in your loft.

Don’t stress about reboots!

A more tongue in cheek set of words to live by to finish off. Just don’t worry about them! Everything is cyclical, so you can bet that the property you have great affection for will come back around in a new guise. But this time it will most likely not have been made for you! This is the nature of things. If you enjoy the reboot, great! If you don’t, let others enjoy it. No one can take away your version.


An important caveat that I should mention is that I don’t live by these things all of the time. I frequently mess them up or forget them. But it’s good to remind myself of them every so often.

Do you have any words to live by of your own?

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