I’m not religious, at least not anymore. Like most kids growing up in the USA I was forced to attend church every Sunday with no explanation aside from “It’s what we do.” I went to the Presbyterian Church which was also called the “cool” church. (My definition of cool is somewhat different nowadays, but I digress.) We read from the bible, sang songs along side hip dudes in their twenties who, for some reason or other wanted to spend their time showing high school kids the ways of Jesus Christ. We had social gatherings and trips to do fun stuff, but when all was said and done – it was still a church.
There was nothing necessarily wrong with my church, but as I got older I began to understand that church wasn’t any place for a free thinking woman like myself. I stopped going when I was a senior in High School because I thought telling teens that they would “go to hell” if they drank or had sex was not only mean, but a big fat lie. And yes, I was told that. Verbatim. And when I asked for proof in The Good Book I was told “later…”. Right, because it doesn’t say that anywhere in there.
The fact that I am happily not affiliated with any organised religion doesn’t mean I am not a woman of faith or spirituality – I am. If there is a god “up there” I don’t think that he/she cares about churches or tithes. I don’t think that god, or buddha or whatever prophet you belive in cares if you drink caffeine, beer or water. I don’t think that deities take notice of whether or not you have kids or if you smoke weed. I think if there is a big someone watching over all of us they just care about one thing: Are you a douche, or not? The following are the Ten Commandments I live by. Or try to.
- Thou shalt not be an asshole. It’s easy. If someone has their signal on in heavy traffic and they are trying to merge, LET THEM. When you go to the cinema turn off your phone – completely – people can still see when you text. Don’t stand in the express line with a full cart of groceries. You get it, right? Don’t be an asshole.
- Practice forgiveness – This applies to yourself as well as to those around you. Did you break the first commandment today? Yeah? Well, forgive yourself and try a little harder tomorrow. And if someone has “wronged” you in some way? Let it go man. No good comes from holding a grudge, and it give that person a whole lot of power in your world.
- TRY – It seems simple, but somewhere along the way I think we forget to just try. Try new food, new clothes, new hair colors, new languages, new places, new people and new books. Hell the harder something looks the harder you can try. Trying is what helps keep us young and alive.
- Thou shalt not judge – How hard is this? Really fucking hard. I try to remember how I feel when people judge me and then try not to make other people feel like that. I think when I feel like judging it is just insecurity coming out and that kind of sucks. So instead of looking at that… um… person with different political beliefs and calling them say… liberal fascists or maybe even communists we should think about it first and wonder why we felt the need to lash out.
- Don’t take it personally – This is my favorite of all my commandments. If you can master this you will lead a happier life by at least 1000%. If (and when) someone says something negative to me (or about me) I can shrug it off pretty easily – because it’s not about me, it’s about them. We take things personally when we think we are the center of the universe, when it’s all about us. Life is a whole lot simpler when you take yourself out of the equation. I get news for you: Nothing anyone does is because of YOU. I promise. It’s all projection. So take a load off and relax. Become immune to both insults and compliments and you’ll be a lot happier. I don’t need to hear that I am good at work, or pretty or a good singer. I know it. When someone says I suck? Great, thanks for sharing.
- Don’t take the good stuff for granted – Do you have an awesome family, or girlfriend or husband, or garden or job? Then show some appreciation! Do one of the chores you sweetie HATES doing. Take your family to the park or zoo just because. Bring some doughnuts to work. Just be outwardly appreciative and everyone will feel happy.
- Thou shalt not assume – We all know what happens when you assume… but really. When you assume you are robbing someone of honesty, and that someone is you. Assumption is the close cousin to judgement, and we all know that thou shalt not judge. It’s hard for me not to assume that every dude in his twenties wearing khakis and drinking a Bud Lite is NOT a douche bag, but I have to try.
- Thou SHALL Dance! – At least once a month I have private little dance parties… in my underwear. It helps me to relieve stress and remember what a total badass babe I am. I do it alone and I turn the music up LOUD. It’s nice to act like a dork with full freedom to do so. It also helps with the “not giving a shit what people think about you” parts.
- Thou shalt Sing Out… Louise – I mean this both figuratively and literally. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I tell it like it is. If you want my opinion, I’m more than happy to give it to you. But you should know that I am going to tell the truth. I’ll call you out if I see you acting a fool, and I’ll call you awesome if you are acting awesome. I also fully advocate singing at any time.
- Thou shalt not be selfish – I’m a school teacher so telling people to share is a daily thing for me. But I work with kids, they need to be told. Adults should fucking know better. If you are acting selfish then please stop it. And you know if you are being selfish. Are you asking to cut in front of a dozen people in line because you only have “a few” things? That’s being selfish. Anytime you put your own needs and well being in front of others then you are being selfish. Is there a time and place for it? Absolutely. But the time and place is usually not when you want something that others are opposed to. Try being flexiblle and see what happens.