Grandpappy's Advice for a Successful, Happy, Prosperous Life
Copyright © August 9, 2008 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
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(Personal Note: I wrote the following advice for my children, grandchildren, and subsequent future descendants.)
During hard times the impact of a bad choice or decision has a much more profound impact than during good times. Therefore a wise person will seek out practical advice that will help him or her avoid serious mistakes during hard times.
Most of our daily decisions have little or no impact on our future happiness. However, a few of our decisions do have consequences that will impact the rest of our lives. The purpose of the following advice is to clearly identify the really important choices you will have to make during your life and then provide some reasonable guidance so you can make the best choice in each situation.
One way to give advice is to wait until someone makes a mistake and then tell the person what he or she should have done. Although this may help the person avoid the same mistake in the future, it does not undo the damage that is already done, and it almost always makes the person feel worse.
A better approach, in my opinion, would be to provide some good advice before any decisions need to be made. An individual could then choose to follow the advice or ignore it. If ignored, at least the person would have known the right thing to do before making the wrong choice in life.
The advice that follows is not new or original. A lot of it is in the Holy Bible. And some of it is simply a "wise saying." The problem is that there are more "wise sayings" than a person could possibly follow in his or her lifetime. For example:
1. A stitch in time saves nine.
2. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Both of the above proverbs are good advice but a person could live a normal, happy, successful life without following either one.
The advice that follows is a brief summary of the "wise sayings" that should not be ignored. A person who voluntarily chooses to follow these "wise sayings" will have a much better chance of succeeding at whatever he or she decides to do in life, and he or she will also have a much better chance of finding happiness while here on this earth.
Unfortunately I personally did not understand the importance of all the following advice when I was young. Therefore I made a variety of mistakes that could have easily been avoided. As a result I gradually learned the truth of many of the following "wise sayings" through trial and error. The reason I am sharing this information is so you won't have to repeat the same mistakes I made during my life.
A young person is usually very susceptible to new ideas and modern ways of doing things. In some cases there is nothing wrong with these new ways. However, if the "new way" contradicts the advice that follows, then the new advice is simply wrong. You can save yourself a lot of heartache and grief if you will simply follow the time proven advice below instead of trying to invent some new way to "get rich quick" or "find true happiness."
If a person compares his or her own choices to the advice given below, then that person will gradually realize that the following suggestions are high quality advice. Eventually a person will realize that if he or she had followed this advice during his or her life then many mistakes and tragedies could have been avoided.
Fortunately it is not too late for you if you will trust me and believe that I sincerely desire for you to have a happy and prosperous life. If you begin today to follow this advice then when you are old you can look back on your life and be very pleased with the way your life was lived and with the things you accomplished.
The advice that follows is separated into eight major topic areas: Religion, Health, Friends, Family, Entertainment, Education, Work, and Wealth. In my opinion, if a person were successful in all these areas then he or she would have the best possible chance of experiencing real happiness.
Grandpappy's Only Proverb
If you wish to succeed, my advice you will heed.
If you wish to be poor, my advice you will ignore.
Grandpappy (Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.), August 1, 2008.
- Accept Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, as your personal savior. Carefully study the Holy Bible to truly understand what this really means.
- Select and join a local Christian Church that teaches from the Holy Bible instead of some other "inspired document."
- Be water baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- Worship and praise God in Church every Sunday, unless you are too sick to appear in public.
- Read your Bible for at least ten-minutes at the beginning of every day. Set a reasonable daily reading goal, such as 1, 2, 3, or 4 pages per day. The number of pages will depend on:
(a) the size of the pages in your Bible and the average number of words on each page, and
(b) how fast you can read and truly understand what you have read.
- Pray to God for at least ten-minutes each day immediately after reading your Bible.
- Practice what you read in your Bible. Diligently attempt to apply the Words of God to your own life.
- In the New Testament Jesus Christ gave His followers more individual freedoms than the Jews were allowed in the Old Testament. Therefore consult a good Bible Dictionary or Concordance before you attempt to follow every Old Testament rule or regulation. For example, it is now okay to eat almost any type of meat, including beef, pigs, wild game, and shell fish.
- All of the original Old Testament Ten Commandments still apply today.
- Give a portion of your total income to God by giving to your Church and to Christian Missionaries. However at least half of this money should be given to your Church.
- On a regular basis also give something to the needy, the poor, and to widows and orphans. This is in addition to the money you give to God.
- Always say grace before eating anything, regardless of where you are or who you are with. Always thank God for your food. Hold hands as you say grace if you are with your family.
- Adopt the following Family Motto: Hope, Honor, Humility.
- Do not lie, cheat, or steal. Shame on you if you even consider one of these sinful activities.
- If you do something that deserves punishment, then tell the truth and own up to it.
- Accept fair discipline without complaining. (Note: God disciplines the ones He loves.)
- Never use bad language or words you know are vulgar or offensive. Your words will reveal who you really are.
- To the extent possible, always obey the current laws of society unless they directly contradict the laws of God and the freedoms God bestowed on mankind in the Bible.
- Eat balanced meals. If possible eat grains, meat, vegetables, fruit, and dairy products.
- Taste a small amount of every food item. If you don’t like it you can spit it into a napkin or the trash.
- Eat small to moderate size portions of each food. Fill your plate once, but not to overflowing.
- Put small amounts of food into your mouth and chew each mouthful slowly and completely. Take your time while eating and truly enjoy the flavor of each mouthful of food. Not only will this aid in digestion, but it will also give your brain and your stomach enough time to acknowledge that you have eaten and this will reduce your feeling of hunger. This will help you to avoid eating too much and becoming overweight.
- Exercise ten-minutes every morning. For example, you could do sit-ups, leg raises, push ups, toe touches, and knee bends. You could also walk around inside your home for a few minutes.
- Never play hard contact physical sports such as football, ice hockey, wrestling, or boxing. You could easily be crippled or disfigured for life during a game that will quickly be forgotten by everyone except you. And you will only remember it because of your unfortunate accident.
- Never, never take any type of drug that affects your mind. Do not become a drug addict, or a tobacco addict, or an alcoholic.
- When you are old enough it is okay to drink wine or other alcoholic beverages in moderation. Never become drunk, regardless of the circumstances or the occasion.
- It is okay to take medicine to heal your body. It is okay to visit a Doctor when medical assistance is necessary. It is okay to go to the Dentist.
- Always get at least two or three different medical opinions before any type of "optional" medical procedure, and before beginning a daily lifetime dose of a prescription medicine. However, don't waste time on a second opinion for emergency procedures such as setting a broken bone, or stitching a wound closed, or getting a prescription for a sore throat, or getting a chipped tooth repaired.
- Take good care of your teeth. If possible, brush your teeth after each meal. Always brush your teeth before going to bed at night.
- Protect your skin from the sun with a hat and clothes, or lotion or oil. The effect of the sun's rays are cumulative and they will cause you serious skin problems as you gradually get older.
- Do not intentionally cut, injure, or disfigure your body. Never get a tattoo for any reason.
- Always practice good safety rules. Wear the proper safety equipment whenever appropriate.
- Be very careful when using tools and machinery, when using a ladder, while in the bathroom, and around all types of animals including domestic farm animals. Hold onto the stair hand rail.
- Treat every person with respect and dignity, regardless of who that person may be.
- Smile when you first see someone. Be friendly to everyone. But do not be friends with everyone.
- Choose your close friends wisely. Do not let other people choose you as a close friend. Select your friends based on each person's character instead of his or her appearance or popularity.
- Anyone who criticizes other people when they aren't around will also say bad things about you when you aren't around. Do not trust this type of person.
- If you can't say something nice about a person, then don't say anything at all.
- Bad people will lead you into bad habits. Good people will encourage you to practice good behavior.
- Do not follow the bad example of another person or a group of people.
- Do not do something just because someone tells you to do it or challenges you to do it. Always think for yourself. Use good judgment based on good common sense. If you are not sure what you should do then ask yourself, "Would God be pleased with me if I did this?"
- Never, never tell anyone, including your best friends, about the personal private events in your own life or the lives of your family members.
- After you get married you will discover that your spouse and your family become more important than your friends, and you will spend a lot less time with your friends.
- The choice of your lifetime spouse is one of the most important decisions you will make during your entire life.
- In addition to an emotional attraction (love), choose a spouse based on the person's appearance, manners, intelligence, integrity, kindness, physical health, emotional control, work history, thriftiness, and Christian faith. Some of these characteristics are genetic and they will be inherited by your children. The best gift you can give your future children is the highest quality genes.
- Select a spouse of the same race and national origin as yourself.
- The female should be the same age or up to ten years younger than the male, but not older.
- Choose a future spouse who does not already have children.
- Individuals with “hard luck stories and excuses” do not make good spouses.
- Individuals with a serious criminal record or an unhealthy addiction do not make good spouses.
- Discuss your dreams and future plans with your prospective spouse. You should both agree on the most important matters in life, such as which Church you will attend, the reasons for a divorce, where you will live, how many children you would like to have, how you think those children should be raised, how you will spend money, how you will save money, and how you will resolve future disagreements. However, as both of you grow older and gain more experience and wisdom you will gradually refine your thoughts on these topics.
- A good time to marry is between the ages of 18 and 22, but at least by the age of 26. However, Abraham's wife Sarah was 90 when she gave birth to her only child Isaac.
- Legally marry your spouse. Do not be intimate or have children until after you are married.
- Always be faithful to your spouse. Never be intimate with anyone except your spouse.
- Do not divorce your spouse except for marital unfaithfulness.
- Never, never go to bed mad. Always resolve any issues before going to sleep at night.
- Continue to discuss your dreams and plans with your spouse and update those plans on a regular basis. Continual communication is an important part of a happy marriage.
- Both of you should invest as much effort in trying to make the other person happy as you do in making yourself happy.
- Never make fun of your spouse. Never criticize or nag your spouse.
- Work together to provide a happy healthy home environment for your entire family.
- It is okay to practice temporary birth control. But do not submit to any permanent form of birth control unless child bearing becomes life threatening. The reason God created men and women was so they would have children and then raise those children in a Godly manner.
- Have as many children as you can support and love. Never consent to an abortion. Remember that children are a gift from God.
- Spend some quality time with your spouse and with each one of your children every day. For example, read or tell stories to your children, or play games with your children. You could read a story from a Picture Storybook Bible to your children each morning while they eat their breakfast.
- Carefully train and educate your children as they grow up. For example, read all of this advice to your children once a month. Then select one, two, or three of these suggestions and talk about them in depth.
- Encourage and praise your children on a regular basis. Help them to gain the confidence, knowledge, and skills they will need as they grow older.
- Teach your children how to pray. Attend Church every Sunday with your entire family.
- Discipline your children when necessary but do it fairly and never when you are emotionally upset.
- Periodically give your children good advice on how to select a spouse beginning when your children are very young. But do not interfere when your child begins this process as a teenager or young adult. Do not try to force a specific person on your child and do not try to keep your child from seeing the person he or she chooses. Instead you should pray and ask God to guide your child in this decision. Then accept and fully support your child in his or her final choice.
- It is okay to have hobbies as long as they don't interfere with your normal responsibilities.
- If possible, do something you really enjoy for at least ten minutes every day.
- The purpose of a game is entertainment. Don't brag if you win. Don't get upset if you lose.
- Gambling is not entertainment. Never bet on anything.
- Learn how to read. Learn how to write very neatly. Learn how to do basic math. If possible, also learn accounting principles, advanced math, and science.
- Learn correct grammar. Learn how to speak clearly so you don't have to repeat yourself. Everyone you meet will form their first impression about you based on your appearance and the way you talk. Don't use fancy words. Instead use ordinary words correctly.
- Read a variety of wholesome literature. However, do not believe anything contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
- Whenever a scientific principle or discovery contradicts the Holy Bible, the scientific principle is wrong and the Bible is right. This has been proven to be true on a countless number of occasions for thousands of years. Given enough time "modern science" will always be proven wrong and the Bible will always be proven correct.
- Learn new skills as time permits. Regardless of whether you are a male or a female you should learn about gardening, hunting, trapping, fishing, foraging for edible wild plants, cooking, sewing, writing, story telling, teaching, and public speaking. You should also learn how to use common hand tools, how to do simple home repairs, how to preserve food, how to do laundry, how to iron clothes, how to wash dishes, and how to start a fire.
- Learn social skills and how to get along with people. Learn how to compromise.
- If you wish you may also learn how to play a musical instrument, and how to speak and read a foreign language.
- It is okay to make a mistake if you learn something of value from your mistake, and if you don't repeat that same mistake again.
- It is important to learn:
(a) when to give up, and
(b) when not to give up.
Most of the time not giving up is the best strategy, except when the cost far exceeds the potential benefits.
- Go to school. Finish high school and get a diploma. If possible, attend a Two-Year College and get a two-year Associates Degree as a reward for your two-years of hard work. Then go to a Four-Year College and get two more years of college and a four-year college degree.
- Before going to sleep at the end of each day spend at least two minutes evaluating the events that happened during the day.
- Do not be proud or ashamed of your current occupation. All honest jobs are necessary and equally important.
- Never believe that your occupation is the most important one in society.
- Whatever you do, do it well, correctly, and diligently. Always do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.
- Make a list of the things you need to do. It is easy to forget something if you don't have it written down. You will be much more efficient and effective if you have a "To Do List."
- Except for a home, do not borrow money. Save until you can pay cash for what you want.
- As soon as possible, purchase a home on some land with some form of natural fresh water supply, such as a creek or lake. If necessary, you may have a fixed rate mortgage on your home with a short repayment period, such as 10 or 15 years. When your home is paid off, do not refinance it. Your home should be a debt-free inheritance for your children. If your children later decide to sell your home then they should invest that money and not spend it.
- Always save one-tenth of your total income for your future retirement. Begin with the first money you earn as a child or teenager. When you retire in your old age you may spend the interest that money earns but you should never spend your original savings. If you only spend the interest then your savings will sustain you regardless of how long you live after you retire. Leave your original savings as an inheritance for your children with the understanding that they may add to it but they may never spend it. Only the interest may be spent by each future generation.
- Make sure your children and future descendants understand that they may not spend your life savings or the proceeds from your home if it is sold. However, they may freely spend the interest earned on this inheritance. Also encourage them to follow your example and to add to this inheritance for their own benefit and for the benefit of their future descendants.
- Always choose a wide variety of safe modest investments as opposed to one or two speculative investments that promise quick and easy profits. If one of your many small safe investments does not do well, then all your other investments should still be okay. To the extent possible, divide your investments into savings accounts, stocks and bonds, real estate, gold and silver, and business investments. Except for your spouse, never tell anyone about any of your investments. A person of apparently modest means does not need to worry about being kidnapped or robbed, but an obviously wealthy person is never safe. Do not expose yourself or your family to unnecessary risks by telling anyone about your financial investments.
- Never agree to pay some other person's debts if that person does not pay. To agree to do this is stupid.
- If you follow these suggestions and other members or your family decide not to, then do not be surprised when they come to you and ask you for help because they had some "bad luck." They chose to ignore this advice and as a result they have become poor. If you help them then you will be ignoring this advice and you will become poor too. If they are sincere about changing their ways then they can start with nothing just like their ancestors did and perhaps they will be able to better advise their own children based on their own failure to heed good advice.
- Never depend on your money to save you. Always trust God. When you depart from this life your money will stay behind but you will go to heaven and you will get to see God, and all your Christian ancestors.
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