20 Hard-Learned Lessons On Successful Living

Living successfully means keeping your principles few and simple so that you may refer to them quickly in an emergency. The following 20 truths will never steer you wrong – ignore them at your peril!



1 Plausible deniability is the best policy.

2 The unexamined life isn’t worth living – but it does get you drunk faster.

3 Health is wealth. So is coming up with Google.

4 No man is an island. (Although Orson Welles came pretty damn close toward the end).

5 Keep regular hours. You’ll notice that at 5 a.m. there are only two types of people awake: health nuts and alcoholics (HINT: one of them is wearing a tux).

6 Make reminders for yourself. For example, I now wear a rubber band on my wrist. Each time I am tempted to snap it, I have a cigarette instead.

7 Be faithful to your spouse. If you’re a married man, for the love of God be prudent. Remember, it’s a very fine line between “innocent flirting” and “paying for sex”.  I used to do my taxes at coffee shops but it made me such a chick magnet I had to stop. Many women simply don’t see the wedding ring so I had to start wearing a fanny pack to make my marital status crystal clear. Nothing says “Player” like a guy with a fanny pack, right? On some level it reminds the ladies of 007 – dinner jacket, cigarette case, fanny pack.

8 Marry well. I can’t overstate how important this is. If I could marry my wife all over again, I would do so in a heartbeat. I might tweak the pre-nup here and there, but that’s a separate issue.

9 Drink moderately or not at all. This one strikes a personal chord with me. For a while there I had more than a little Captain Morgan in me. I thought of myself as a social drinker but at some point my drinking stopped being funny and started being downright hilarious. You don’t want to get to that point. I thought things were under control but I now realize that I would subconsciously invite myself to social gatherings in which you were practically expected to be drunk – weddings, cocktail parties, PTA meetings, etc. And then there’s all the lies you tell yourself. I would go a couple of days without a drink and then tell myself “What could be more harmless than a couple of drinks to relax, unwind and stop my hands from shaking?” If you have any doubts if you are overdoing, better to quit altogether.

10 Some things are easier done than said, like “disassociation”.

11 Enrich your life with books. I devour self-improvement literature. For example, I’m currently reading a book on how to be more assertive (if that’s okay with you). Here are three titles to get you started:

Health and fitness – “Cough Your Way To Rock-Hard Abs”.

Self-image – “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Self-Esteem”.

History: “Facetious – The Greek Goddess Of Sarcasm”

Language: “German Made Merely Difficult”

12 Be Humble. Despite all of my success, I’ve never forgotten where I come from (Malibu, California).

13 Act appropriately. Different environments call for different behavior. On long-haul flights, for example, it is okay to press the flight attendant call button to request water or a blanket but not simply because the taser scene in “The Hangover” is about to come on.

14 Avoid brutal honesty. “Ribbed For Her Pleasure” is much better than “Ribbed For His Ego”.

15 Adopt a baby. Few things in life are more beautiful than adopting a baby – unless the kid turns out to be big boned.

16 Look forward, regret nothing. The past is the past. My wife and I got married in “I’m With Stoopid” t-shirts. Sure, we no longer place our wedding album where visitors to our home can readily access it, but do you think we lose any sleep over it? Live in the moment!

17 Accept that there will always be setbacks. When I was a kid, I tried digging to China. After a long and exhausting effort, I ended up hitting my head on The Great Wall. You talk about disappointment! Such experiences strengthened my resolve, however, and served me well in the future.

18 Accept that which you cannot change. My wife is from Germany and when you marry a German, there’s a certain symmetry. For example, I don’t laugh at jokes in her language and she doesn’t laugh at jokes in her language. Accept it and move on!

19 Think on your feet. When my dad can’t think of the word “website” he says “internet shingle”. Good for him!

20 Exceed expectations. When it comes to a successful business, under-promise and over-deliver. Consider this Turkish barber I solicited for a simple haircut.

Do you have ideas for living a successful life? Share them in the comment section below!