45 Things I Learned in 45 Years

by Matthew Arnold Stern

I turned 45 in July 2006. Here are 45 things I learned in those years.

  1. Three things you must never do to children: Don’t lie to them. Don’t break promises to them. Don’t tear down their self-worth.
  2. Three important, but hard words to say: I was wrong. Two more important, but even harder words: I’m sorry.
  3. Religion is a reflection of a person. If a person is filled with love, his faith will inspire him to acts of compassion. If a person is filled with hate, he will use his faith to justify and intensify his hatred. This is true for all creeds, and it’s also true about atheists.
  4. One thing I love about baseball is that it’s never too late. You can be down by five runs in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, and you can still come from behind to win.
  5. Caffeine is a poor substitute for sleep.
  6. You can spend hours proofreading a manuscript, but you will still find at least one typo after it has been printed.
  7. Pursue only what you truly love to do as your career. If you don’t find passion and joy in your work, look for something else.
  8. Time is more valuable than money. You can make more money. You can’t make more time.
  9. Do some sort of exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
  10. Never commit to something unless you are sure you can see it through. Once you’ve made a commitment, stick with it until you’ve fulfilled it.
  11. Learn to laugh at yourself. Every ego needs to be deflated now and then.
  12. I’ve been fat, and I’ve been thin. When I’ve been fat, I obsessed over food. When I’ve been thin, I obsessed over food. What I need to learn is how to listen to my body and feed it only what it needs.
  13. Gay people were born that way. You can’t make straight people gay. You can’t make gay people straight. So, just accept them for who they are.
  14. Three things children should learn: music, sports, and goal setting.
  15. It’s healthy to loaf around once in a while. Watch a little TV. Do a little Web surfing. Listen to some music. Your mind will be sharper if you give it a short break on occasion.
  16. The time to fret and struggle over a decision is before you make it. Don’t make a decision until you are sure. And when you have made a decision, move forward on it without any second thoughts.
  17. Marijuana is a waste of time, money, and tortilla chips.
  18. Be the better person. If someone is being mean to you, don’t stoop to their level. Dignity is a powerful defense.
  19. Say positive affirmations every day.
  20. There is no difference between left-wing extremists and right-wing extremists. Both are hate-filled, self-righteous, and arrogant. Both value political ideology over people and individual freedom. Both must be rejected.
  21. If you want to leave a permanent legacy, help another person succeed. That person will always remember you.
  22. Be patient with those you love. They will have their moods, tantrums, and embarrassing moments. Love them anyway.
  23. Persistence is the key ingredient for success. Talent without persistence is undeveloped and wasted. A positive attitude without persistence is just wishful thinking. If you want to succeed, you must be willing to slog through the drudge work, face failure, and resist the temptation to quit.
  24. Take responsibility for your own behavior. You can’t control how other people act, but you can control how you respond to it.
  25. Spend the extra money and get what you really want. If you buy something for less that you’re not happy with, you’ve wasted your money.
  26. Don’t be ashamed of your sexuality.
  27. You can invest in retrospect. Experience is a good teacher if you are willing to reflect seriously on the past and learn from it.
  28. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
  29. A word of praise can do more to change a person than a thousand words of criticism.
  30. Always wear your safety belt.
  31. What I’ve learned about acting: If you’re fat, you’ll always play the “loveable sidekick”. If you’re Asian, you’ll perform martial arts. If you’re Hispanic, half of your dialogue will be in Spanish. If you’re African American, you’ll always talk in street slang. If you play a gay character, you’ll talk with a lisp. If you’re a young woman, you’ll be kidnapped and tied up at least once in your career – twice if you’re on a soap opera. If you’re an older woman, roles that were written for your age group will go to actresses who are 10–15 years younger.
  32. Use the right tool for the right job.
  33. Tattoos are ugly, and they’ll look even worse when you get older.
  34. Friendship requires effort. Take the time to stay in touch with your friends, or they’ll drift away.
  35. Take the initiative. Be the one who steps up when no one else does.
  36. Keep an open mind, but stay away from those who want to control it.
  37. Kids love competition. They enjoy the challenge, and it pushes them to be their best. If you shield children from competition, you’ll may doom them to mediocrity. You’ll certainly doom them to boredom.
  38. Always use a coaster when putting a cup on a table.
  39. Don’t depend on technology. It is guaranteed to fail, especially when you need it most. Always have a backup plan.
  40. It’s much easier to give advice than it is to follow it yourself.
  41. Forgive.
  42. Don’t pass judgment until you have all the facts.
  43. Consider gambling as just a way to spend money to entertain yourself. You may lose your money quickly. You may lose it slowly. But you will lose it. Decide how much you want to spend in advance and then stop gambling when you’ve spent all that you had planned.
  44. Don’t cheat. You won’t get away with it.
  45. Visualize your success. You will find that the reality will be even better than you had imagined it.