30 Fundamentals of a Wonderful Life

30 Fundamentals of a Wonderful Life

Recently I had my first golf lesson with a professional golfer. Now, this is not the first time that I had played golf – I picked up a golf club for the first time approximately 9 months ago and subsequently played on and off with friends. I studied a few golf books and received a few good tips from my friends, but frustration finally sent me in search of professional help.

At the lesson, the first thing I did was hit some golf balls whilst the coach watched. Then, he told me this: “first, we are going to work on the 4 fundamentals of golf: grip, stance, posture, and alignment”. If you think about each of them – grip, stance, posture, and alignment – you can imagine why it was that I did not hit too many golf balls in that first lesson. The swing – that all important element that is the final determinant of how the ball is hit – would not be the focus until I had the fundamentals under control.

This golf lesson got me thinking. It seems to me that there are certain fundamentals not only in golf, but in life, that we should have under control before we turn our attention to loftier ambitions. For example, many people who desire wealth will begin investing (the swing) without developing any financial intelligence (the fundamentals).

For the non-golfers out there, another great metaphor is the construction of your dream home. Imagine you are wanting to build a beautiful, multi-level home (your life). Once the site is prepared and you are ready to build, the first step is the laying of the foundation (the fundamentals). It is crucial that this foundation is strong, for if it is upon this that the rest of the house is built.

Here then are what I consider to be 30 fundamentals of a wonderful life. Yes -I’m sure there are more, but if you can manage to get each of these under control you will have a strong foundation upon which to build a wonderful life.

successSuccess

Defining what success means to YOU: success will mean different things to different people. In these modern times, traditional ideas of success involving impressive job titles and high salaries are being challenged by such ideas as “time affluence”. Decide what is important to you, and don’t waste time chasing someone else’s idea of success.

Strong work ethic: expecting great success without being willing to work hard for it is a recipe for mediocrity. If it seems that others just get lucky, remember the following quote from the famous golfer Gary Player:

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” – Gary Player

Focus on adding value: stop focusing on what you want, and start thinking of how you can add value to other people. When you help other people get what they want, they will be more willing to help you.

Abundance mentality: this is the understanding that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. With this mentality, you are willing to share prestige, recognition, and profits.

Motivation: what drives you to succeed? When you understand the reasons behind what you do (eg to provide for your family), you will gain purpose and clarity.

Goals: there have been numerous studies that have shown people who set goals are more likely to succeed than people who do not. By setting goals, you focus your attention on a target which, in turn, focuses your mind on finding ways to get there.

Personal Growth

curious A curious mind: a curious mind loves to learn new things. If you have ever watched a small child play you will know exactly what I mean. So instead of just accepting things “as is”, ask yourself the questions: What? How? Why? Who? When?

An open mind: some of our beliefs and actions are so ingrained that we automatically disregard any evidence that we should think or act otherwise. Keep an open mind, and you may just come across a better way of seeing or doing things.

A willingness to change: it is one thing to want to live a better life, but are you really willing to make the necessary changes? The following quote explains this concept perfectly:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein

Defining your values and principles: who are you? What are you about? And what do you value? If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend taking the time to write a personal mission statement.

Awareness: are you on autopilot? If so, turn it off and decide to live consciously. In short, this means to being committed to awareness as a way of existing in the world. Awareness of your beliefs, awareness of your own power, and awareness of your freedom to choose your own destiny.

Self-discipline: you may have the best intentions in the world, but without self-discipline you will fall victim to the temptation. If you have problems with self-discipline, burn the following quote into your memory and recall it whenever temptation arises:

“The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret”

Happinesssunset

The ability to enjoy the now: it’s important to plan for the future, but too many people have “destination addiction” which means they can’t enjoy then present. Stop. And enjoy this very moment….

Find your purpose: in his book Happier, author Tal Ben Shahar defines happiness as:

“The overall experience of pleasure and meaning.”

Different people find different ways to fill their life with meaning. One thing is clear though: meaning comes from developing a sense of purpose.

Gratitude: instead of focusing on what you don’t have, try appreciating what you do have. If you are reading this, chances are you are better off than the vast majority of the world’s population.

Quality relationships: happiness is closely linked to the quality of your relationships in your life. Take the time to keep in touch with friends and family.

Perspective: when things get tough, it is so important to be able to step back and gain some perspective on life.

Accepting those things that cannot be changed: I have always loved the profound wisdom of the following quote, commonly known as the Serenity Prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Wealth wealth

Financial intelligence: before investing in real estate or the stock market, invest in yourself by developing your own financial intelligence. As they say, knowledge is power.

Spend less than you earn: to gain wealth, you must spend less than you earn. Just consider the opposite for a moment: if you spend more than you earn, you are accumulating debt.

Proper management of debt: have you ever felt up to your eyeballs in debt? It’s not a good feeling. There are circumstances where debt is good, but if you fall into the debt trap you can become a slave to making the repayments.

Patience: Without patience, you will be drawn towards high risk investments such as speculative stocks or get rich quick schemes. Sure there are some winners who get rich quick, but there are also a lot of people who get hurt (especially if they haven’t taken the time to develop their financial intelligence). Be prepared to get rich slowly.

Adequate protection of assets: it is one thing to accumulate assets, but if they are not adequately protected you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Life does go awry every so often, so be prepared.

Health

Recognize the importance of your health: it is often said that “your health is your wealth”. Many people do not, however, appreciate their health until it is gone. Save yourself a lot of pain, and learn from others’ mistakes.

Exercise: if you want to be fit and healthy, you must exercise.

A healthy diet: there is truth to the old saying “you are what you eat”. If you want to live a long and healthy life, make sure you maintain a healthy diet. Yes, this is common sense – but common sense does not necessarily translate to common practice.

Relationshipsfriends2

Treat others as you would like to be treated: this is known as the Ethic of Reciprocity, or the “Golden Rule”. Imagine if everyone lived by this principle.

Love yourself: I don’t mean this in a vain sense. I just believe that before asking another person to love you, you should take the time to find things you love about yourself.

Have good manners: good manners are said to be the lubricant of social interaction. Saying “please” shows you respect someone, and saying “thank you” tells them you appreciate them.

Be real: show a genuine interest in other people. And don’t be afraid to let them see the real you, even if it means you feel vulnerable. I believe it is when you are at your most vulnerable that people fall in love with you.

Peter Clemens

Peter Clemens is founder of The Change Blog and author of The Possibility of Change books series. Click here to learn more about Peter and his books.

42 Comments

  1. I second that – it’s an excellent read.

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  2. Great article Peter– really good synopsis on basic fundamentals that we ALL should focus on….

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  3. Thanks guys.

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  4. Real Nice Peter, I strive to not let all the Negative come near all the Positive I want. TY

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  5. great article. i think perspective is one of the most under-rated fundamentals in the list. it’s very helpful to remember that no matter what you are going through, other people have been there, other people are there, and a lot of them may have it a lot worse. thoughts like this can really open the heart and take the “edge” out of painful experiences.

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  6. Great article. I like “destination addiction” that’s catchy and stuck with me!

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  7. This is an absolute bliss. Thanks for this great collection of wisdom – it is so direct and concise. It is surely going to change my life.

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  8. You should put these little recycled bits of rhetoric on large posters with pictures of eagles and mountain climbers and lighthouses and sell them to the empty and the heartbroken. Or maybe just middle-managers.

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  9. Peter – As a young entrepreneur I have realized many of the facts that you put forth in your post, you described it perfectly. I think that many of the fundamentals you’ve described can be applied to my everyday struggle of becoming an entrepreneur. I would just like to thank you for a wonderful post and was wondering if I could write up a post on my site about yours. I believe the spirit of the post fits very well with the content I am looking to provide on my blog. Thanks again.

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  10. Great advice … but what if you know you’re not leading the life you’re supposed to, but have no idea what that life is?? I guess this falls under finding a sense of purpose.

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  11. Oscar: I spent quite a bit of time writing this article, and each of these bits of “rhetoric” actually mean a great deal to me. If you think differently, then that’s just the way things are.

    Btw – I will be sure to let you know if I do make up some large posters. I’m sure with your sarcastic sense of humor you will be able to make up some “original” parodies….. thank you, buh-bye, and have a nice life ……….

    Everyone else: thanks for the positive comments :)

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  12. Another great article.
    For me, your first point says it all; define what success means for you.
    Too many of us, it seems, pursue success according to other people’s criteria and then wonder why we feel unsatisfied.
    Success can mean different things to each of us. By defining that success, we can start to achieve our success. The definition also gives us a clear aim and a set of criteria by which we can judge when we have achieved that success.

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  13. Thanks Doug. I’m glad you agree about defining success. I purposely put it first as I consider this to be one of, if not the most, important on the list.

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  14. It’s a really good article indeed! Very well written, easy to read, pass a lot of knowledge. I appreciate that!

    Thank you for writing Peter!

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  15. Revisiting her oscar-winning role as the cynic, it’s azureone. Hi everyone. Sorry toybreak up the love fest but I have to insert some logic into this discussion and agree with Oscar. This list is nothing more than hackneyed platitudes. Each has been on a poster. Don’t believe me? Check the skymall catalog or visit http://www.successories.com . I have always found the demotivators series to be much more compelling as the images and taglines were well thought and fresh. Those of you who loved this list – what exactly were you doing with your life before Peter decided to pull this together from posters and bargain self-help books? Your astonished, gleeful praise of this list leaves me feeling that you must have been lost, aimless at your core. That is a very sad state. That could explain why you would latch onto such a poorly regurgitated version of a list that exists at every company, in every book, website, magazine or blog dedicated to self-help. Google any of the terms and the results are staggering. I will pick on only one phrase – ‘value-add’ – ahh…of all the ‘bull-shit bing’ words this is my least favorite. If a person is in a positive relationship (a job, a friendship, a partnership, etc.) then the other person or persons acknowledges value by maintaining a relationship. One needs to focus on maintaining the given relationship to keep and grow the value the other or others sees in them. You don’t add value like a side of fries or by adding an extra project. This is a meaningless phrase. A final note – people are not idiots. Yet, the platitudes in this list suggest that people are idiots – we can all say meaningless words to each other smile politely and feign happiness as we check off our list. That is what makes this list foul and unseemly to me.

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    • Does it matter where the article or phrase comes from? Ultimately no idea is completely original. All ideas, situations, people etc arise from a series of situations, people events that give rise to other events.

      Einstien’s theories (which were considered to be groundbreaking at the time) were only a result of his exposure to other theories and experiments that he had come in contact with through his life. Does that mean he was full of bull shit too? I mean his theories also lacked originality if you trace them back to their origins in prior experiments or assertions from preceding physicists.

      Steve Jobs stole ideas left right and centre and claimed them as his own. But he still produced pioneering products that changed people’s lives.

      Reading these platitudes once is never enough.

      It’s the repetition of the platitudes that adds value. To me what matters is that one reads the material (regardless of it’s source) and gets uses it to evolve to a better person than before they came across the idea.

      I agree that the term “value add” is way overused – I suffered 2 years of it through my MBA – but ultimately if a person doesn’t aspire to make the world a better place than they found it then what’s the point of their sorry existence?

      Keen to hear your thoughts …

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  16. Hi azureone,
    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. If you choose to be cynical about the article, there is probably not much I can do to make you think otherwise. I do, however, wish to confirm that is an original article and all the above points came from out of my head. Of course, someone’s ideas are always influenced by what they see and read, and I’m sure some of those motivational type posters have seeped into my head over time.
    Have a nice day, Peter :)

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  17. A very all ecompassing list of life’s fundamentals. Another fundamental to life a wonderful life is knowing God. Once we know Him our live seem to have much more purpose.

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  18. Awsome article. No wasted words. Thanks. Schools should teach a class and use this for a curriculum. Seriously. Most people in america will never read information like this on their own or be exposed to it in schools. If a person were to read these ideas and implement them it would have more impact than a phd. No Kidding.

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  19. I fully agree w/ workathomejoe. These are the kind of wisdom we need these days on this wisdom less generation…I;ll make sure all my kids read this. Will also put this in a 1 page leaflet to give away..(with your permission). If people read this on the bus or train, will have an impact somehow…

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  20. I am absolutely amazed at the things that I find on this website. I stumbled on it month or so ago and now spend a lot of my time on it perusing through the different articles. This is perhaps the most professional blog that I have ever read. I especially like they links to the other articles albeit, there really addicting, browsing through all of them.

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  21. No one can be great without first having a “great” grasp of the fundamentals. You have touched on so many great points in this article. Thanks.

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  22. Hi Peter,
    I discovered your site today and I’m totally fascinated by all the things I learned from these pages. Thank you very much for taking your time to share all this.
    Have a great day!

    Christina

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  23. You should re-post this article in December 08! It is full of resolution worthy suggestions for improving the quality of your life in many areas.

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  24. Peter,

    I stumbled upon your website trying to find ways to be a good salesman. I am 39 years old and have been surveying land for 18 years. I started my own business in 2002 and was headed down my career path just as I had planned. The economy has gone down the toilet and took all my clients with. They were custom home builders and now that they are gone, so is my business. I am left standing here with no money, a college degree, a mortgage that I am not sure how to pay, a genius IQ and no one will hire me so I can earn a living. I take that back, I ride Harleys in my free time and love it. I applied to a dealership in my area. They gave me a second interview yesterday and I believe that they believe in me and are going to give me a sales job. I am so excited that they have given me this opportunity. At first my parents couldn’t understand why I do not pursue a engineering/surveying career. I explained to them that I have been miserable doing this job for the last 8 years or so. I actually started my business because I was frustrated that so many surveyors take the easy way out and are not disciplined enought to do the job correctly. I feel free like a kid again. I am headed down a whole new career path and I have not been this happy in over a decade. I am grateful I found your sebsite and I feel that destiny has brought us together at this awkward time in my life. I have a new sense of purpose. I am borrowing the applicable parts of your mission statement until I develope my own and I am ready to conquer the world by selling one Harley at a time. I will be around for a while. Thank you for the advice !!!

    Scott

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  25. peter,

    I just discovered your website, through digg. I’ve only read a couple articles, but I already have 5 or more tabs on my browser open of articles that look interesting. surely I will be back and read more. keep writing! as I tend to obsessively check blogs that I like :D

    (small typo: “The ability to enjoy the now: it’s important to plan for the future, but too many people have “destination addiction” which means they can’t enjoy **then** present” should be “the” I think.

    later!

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  26. Hi, Peter

    It is indeed, a wonderful article. What one need is how to leave the life meaningfully. Your this article is like a search light for us.

    Look forward to have many more such articles from you.

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  27. Hey Peter,
    good! very good!
    your article has ignited a new dream and passion to my life,and encouraged me to make an effort to fulfil my goals. keep practising, keep the lists mentioned above in heard, and open mind–look the world with global perspective.
    Thanks a lot! ;)

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  28. Superb article more power to your elbow is really inspiring and can be of help to many that have the drive. am just thanking God for giving you this wisdom and insight.

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  29. Geat article!!! Thanks a lot. That`s useful

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  30. Hi Peter:

    Thank you so much for posting this article. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Are Success, Personal Growth, Happiness, Wealth, Health and Relationships the fundamentals of a wonderful life for you? I am a 43-year-old woman and I’ve been seriously ill for almost two years now. I would love to be a better person, which is partly why I ended up on this site. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I can’t work or play at all anymore. In fact, the life I used to have was gone in a heartbeat. I have been denied long-term disability benefits and have filed an appeal but I am very afraid I will be denied again in spite of strongly-worded letters from my Doctor and my Specialist. I am essentially bedridden although I force myself up and moving and any chance I have to help others, I do. What advice would you give for someone in my position to be a better person? I would be most grateful for any insight you might have.
    All the best to you and yours and I wish you continued success with your art,

    Sam

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  31. Good tips, really made me think how to have a wonderful life. Some people feel successful by helping others, others by working or making money. And it’s true that what you think is success others might not appreciate it as much as what it means to you.

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  32. thanks for your suggestions

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  33. Superb use of metaphor. Thank you Peter.

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  34. Great motivating post as always, I learn a lot from your writings. Keep it up… :)
    Stay Blessed

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  35. Lovely article full of common sense and logic, just one of many. Best wishes Peter.

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  36. Thanks.Great info

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  37. Hi Peter, came across this article a few days ago. Thanks for posting it on the internet – it is very inspiring and I especially like the ‘price of discipline v pain of regret’ quote!!

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  38. That’s a really good article. It certainly changed my attitude of life! Thank you! :)

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  39. Great read, I am developing a cd on the fundamentals of life and your definition is what I am looking for, may I quote you on this

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  40. I am inspired by your article …
    I am a 31 year old woman who wants to make some changes for the better :) and just reading this has made me feel I can

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  41. Hi Peter,

    Nice article. Thanks for sharing. I really like the idea of defining success. Something I need to do more.

    I also liked the quote “The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret” your point about “destination addiction”. Great things for me to remember.

    The golf analogy was very nice too. Beautifully put. Thanks.

    Reply

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