As we approach the new year, it’s time to think about resolutions, ways we can be better. I don’t know why, but recently I’ve been thinking about how to live a good life. After some reflection, I’ve come up with 10 new commandments which, if followed, would make anyone into a good person.
The Old Commandments
I know many Christians revere the 10 commandments brought down from the mountain by Moses, but I’ve always thought that those rules of life are outdated for the way we live our lives now. I think it’s time to update the commandments for our times. So here are my new 10 commandments.
- Be kind to others. Sounds simple, but it’s not so easy. Life is filled with frustration, which leads to irritation, anger and bad behavior toward the source of the problem. Controlling yourself and being nice can be a challenge.
- Respect and preserve nature. We’re destroying the planet, our only home and safe haven. We’re killing the plants and animals at a record rate. We’re polluting the air and water. We’re changing the climate. Unless we become better stewards of nature, our time as a species is coming to an end. We have to learn to share the planet with and nurture all living things as well as the planet itself.
- Share some of what you have. If you’re fortunate enough to have more than you need to sustain yourself, give some of what you have to those who are hungry, cold, homeless or sick. Wealth is a curse, not a blessing.
- Love somebody. A life without love is a barren life. Find somebody who can put up with you and share your life with them.
- Be passionate. Find something you care about deeply and pursue that passion with all your energy.
- Accept yourself, accept others. We’re all different, but we’re more alike really. Find a way to overcome hatred, both self-loathing and intolerance for those who are not like you.
- Be happy. Happiness comes from within you, not from outside sources. Focus on the good things in your life. Endure the bad things with dignity and grace.
- Work hard. Make a good effort, push yourself and see what you can achieve. There is satisfaction in daily toil and struggle.
- Explore the planet. Don’t spend your whole life in one place. Revel in the beauty of what’s out there, whether it’s a walk in your neighborhood or a sojourn to distant wonders.
- Forgive. People do bad things to other people. That’s a reality we all have to deal with. You can either cling to your anger for the injustices heaped upon you, or you can let it go and be free of it.
Who am I to offer this lofty advice? I’m nobody, an old man who has often failed to live by my own beliefs. These new commandments are not easy to live by. I’d say they’re far more difficult than the Mosaic commandments. Graven images? No problem. Don’t kill? I’m perfect on that one so far. But I struggle mightily with most of the things I’ve listed as my formula for living a good life. But the fact that I struggle shows that I’m trying to do better, to grow and become a better person. And I think that’s what life should really be about.