Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Be Cool to the Pizza Dude and 8 More Rules to Live By

Always go to the funeral is just one of many great rules to live by in NPR’s Collection of “This I Believe” Essays. Here are some of my other favorites:

1. Be Cool to the Pizza Dude

papa johns.gif

Coolness to the pizza delivery dude is a practice in humility and forgiveness. I let him cut me off in traffic, let him safely hit the exit ramp from the left lane, let him forget to use his blinker without extending any of my digits out the window or toward my horn because there should be one moment in my harried life when a care may encroach or cut off or pass ad I let it go. 

Sometimes when I have become so certain of my ownership of my lane, daring anyone to challenge me, the pizza dude speeds by in his rusted Chevette. His pizza light atop his car glowing like a beacon reminds me to check myself as I flow through the world. After all, the dude is delivering pizza to young and old, families and singletons, gays and straights, blacks, whites, and browns, rich and poor, and vegetarians and meat lovers alike. As he journeys, I give safe passage, practice restraint, show courtesy, and contain my anger.

–Sarah Adams, English professor at Olympic College in Washington

2. Give and You Shall Receive

Paralyzed and silent in her bed, my daughter Paula taught me a lesson that is now my mantra: You only have what you give. It’s by spending yourself that you become rich. …The pain of losing my child was a cleansing experience. I had to throw overboard all excess baggage and keep only what is essential. Because of Paula, I don’t cling to anything anymore. Now I like to give much more than I receive. I am happier when I love than when I am loved. I adore my husband, my son, my grandchildren, my mother, my dog, and frankly I don’t know if they even like me. But who cares? Loving them is my joy.

Give, give, give–what is the point of having experience, knowledge, or talent if I don’t give it away? Of having stories if I don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don’t share it? I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world, and with the divine. In is in giving that I feel the spirit of my daughter inside me, like a soft presence.

–Isabel Allende is the author of “The House of the Spirits” and “My Invented Country”

3. Be Capable of Change

I believe that man’s noblest endowment is his capacity to change…. I believe in the potential of people. I cannot rest passively with those who give up in the name of “human nature.” Human nature is only animal nature if it is obligated to remain static. Without growth, without metamorphosis, there is no godhead. If we believe that man can never achieve a society without wars, then we are condemned to wars forever. This is the easy way. But the laborious, loving way, the way of dignity and divinity, presupposes a belief in people and in their capacity to change, grow, communicate, and love. 

–Leonard Bernstein is a composer, conductor, pianist, and educator.

4. Be Still and Listen

I believe I have to remove myself from the voices that barrage me in order to find my true compass. This includes a daily walk just to listen. The guiding light of my life is the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. In our hectic, noisy world, I have to slow down or withdraw in order to hear it. Prayer, I have discovered, is less about what I say and more about what I hear…. 

I believe in a daily walk to listen because that is when I am close to God, that is when I find my way. And I am most at peace when I tune out the voices of the world long enough to hear the still, small voice of God directing me. “Be still,” Psalm 46 reminds me, “and know that I am God.”

–Susan Cosio is a chaplain at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, California

5. Be Present

I believe in the power of presence. 

I was recently reminded of this belief when I and several other Red Cross volunteers met a group of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. We were there, as mental health professionals, to offer “psychological first aid.” Despite all the training in how to “debrief,” to educate about stress reactions, and to screen for those needing therapy, I was struck again by the simple healing power of presence. …Presence is a noun, not a verb; it is a state of being, not doing. States of being are not highly valued in a culture that places a high priority on doing. Yet, true presence or “being with” another person carries with it a silent power–to bear witness to a passage, to help carry an emotional burden, or to begin a healing process. In it, there is an intimate connection with another that is perhaps too seldom felt in a society that strives for ever-faster “connectivity.”

With therapy clients, I am still pulled by the need to do more than be, yet repeatedly struck by the healing power of connection created by being fully there in the quiet understanding of another. I believe in the power of presence, and is it not only something we give to others. It always changes me–and always for the better.

–Debbie Hall is a psychologist in the Pediatrics Department of San Diego’s Naval Medical Center.

6. Pursue Truth

There is such a thing as truth, but we often have a vested interest in ignoring it or outright denying it. Also, it’s not just thinking something that makes it true. Truth is not relative. It’s not subjective. It may be elusive or hidden. People may wish to disregard it. But there is such thing as truth and the pursuit of truth: trying to figure out what has really happened, trying to figure out how things really are. … 

It’s not that we find truth with a big “T.” We investigate and sometimes we find things out and sometimes we don’t. There’s no way to know in advance. It’s just that we have to proceed as though there are answers to questions. We must proceed as though, in principle, we can find things out–even if we can’t. The alternative is unacceptable.

–Errol Morris is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and the director of critically acclaimed television programs and commercials.

7. Live in the Middle

I believe in the 50-percent theory. Half the time things are better than normal; the other half, they are worse. I believe life is a pendulum swing. It takes time and experience to understand what normal is, and that gives me the perspective to deal with the surprises of the future. … But there is a vast meadow of life in the middle, where the bad and the good flip-flop acrobatically. This is what convinces me to believe in the 50-percent theory. 

–Steve Porter coaches, watches baseball, and works in community relations for the Missouri Department of Transporation

8. Get Angry

I believe that a little outrage can take you a long way. … I am deeply familiar with that hollow place that outrage carves in your soul. I’ve fed off of it to sustain my work for many years. But it hasn’t eaten me away completely, maybe because the hollow place gets filled with other, more powerful things like compassion, faith, family, music, the goodness of people around me. These things fill me up and tempter my outrage with a deep sense of gratitude that I have the privilege of doing my small part to make things better. 

–Cecilia Munoz is vice president of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza, and works on behalf of Hispanic-Americans.

9. Be Extraordinary

I believe it is possible for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. For me, the difference between “ordinary” and an “extraordinary” person is not the title that person might have, but what they do to make the world a better place for us all. … And I believe that if enough ordinary people back up our desire for a better world with action, we can, in fact, accomplish absolutely extraordinary things. 

–Jody Williams is the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

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  • Marilyn

    Very thought provokeing.i think we all need to stand back and read those they seem like some good rules to live by.

  • susan

    Have you gone on video boo (it is part of twitter), you need a iphone and I had listened to Stephen Fry, he made a serie for BBC about his being bipolar and more to the point intervieuwing others.
    His boos are wonderful because of his wonderful voice, wit and enormous intellegence.
    Above is a boo of someone else and I suddenly thought about you,
    Take care

  • susan

    Here is a link about Stephen Fry’s documentary

  • Ask a Nurse

    This is really a well laid out website. I like how you have presented the information in full detail. Keep up the great work and please stop by my site sometime.

  • susan

    And always tip the pizza man. Or any delivery person. And your waiter. They get paid peanuts and they are over the moon to get extra money, and when they see you they treat you like royalty.

  • Your Name

    There are four things that most people should do:
    1. Take care of and love your family
    2. Take care of your health so you can take care of others and so you can do all those things you should.
    3. Have a thirst for knowledge – learn, learn, learn – and then teach others
    4. Cultivate an unconditional love for everyone – this is not easy it means loving those who would do and are doing you wrong.
    It is reported that people on their deathbed regretted most of all not caring for and loving their family more. Think about it!
    Mike – BARBADOS

  • Your Name

    It is a great thing to know help is only a mouse click away!

  • Your Name

    I have been so bone aching tired lately. My body just screams with pain. I just found this site, thank you for at least a small bit of air.

  • Your Name

    These words of wisdom,kindness,thoughtfullness,and humanitarism should be followed by all then maybe the world would be a nicer place.

  • Dorothy

    Thanks, I needed that.

  • joanne

    I am not young but I love your site because it makes me feel young and learn beautiful things over and over again… Thank You

  • erzebet

    Thank you for putting together your site. It is such a relief to read the words and not feel alone in my bad days or great days, may you be blessed as I am by you site.

  • Sandy

    What a wonderful time to find these powerful words- through such a difficult time. Sincerely, Sandy

  • Your Name

    Thank you so much for enhancing my spiritual journey.

  • Dana

    I like this. I is just that simple we make this to complicated.

  • flip flop

    oh,my god if tnere is a chance for you ch best service and best flip flop ,d n’t miss it ,come on ….to tch it

  • Matt

    Great rules, I like this post its thanks. Being cool to the pizza guy seems to symbolise a whole mental attitude.

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