Living in Gratitude: 25 Principles for Adult Behavior

Living your best life is your most important journey. ~Oprah Winfrey

Grateful Dead lyricist, John Perry Barlow, was also the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit leading the charge in defending civil freedom in the digital environment by championing privacy, free expression, and innovation.

Barlow, who passed away in early 2018, had 25 principles for adult behavior that offer an insightful checklist for moving through life gracefully and with poise.

  1. Be patient. No matter what.

It takes time to understand ourselves and others. It takes time for others to understand us. It takes time to learn, grow and change. Patience enables all of these things to occur in their proper time and in a healthy, open atmosphere.

  1. Don’t badmouth

Assign responsibility, never blame. Say nothing behind another’s back you’d be unwilling to say, in exactly the same tone and language, to his face.

The best feedback is a conversation that opens up into a dialogue, developing new insights and ideas. The worst feedback is the “you’re wrong”, with no insight and no invitation to get into a dialogue.

  1. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.

Most people are just trying to get by, and we have no idea of their struggles, battles, and crises.

  1. Expand your sense of the possible.

Too many great ideas are discounted before they’re even born because it is assumed they are not possible. By changing our outlook to one of possibility, we open our minds and draw in opportunity, adventure, and experiences. Of course, there are times when something is NOT possible but better to discover that after exploration versus making snap decisions and missing out on something that could’ve been amazing.

  1. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.

Not everything is possible. There are indeed things we cannot change. In these situations, accepting the reality and moving onward is key.


  1. Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.

But make sure you deliver the most you can, and a little bit more — because that’s where the learning happens.

  1. Tolerate ambiguity.

Embracing the unknown opens us up to possibility. Avoid attempting to control but rather, strive to observe and understand. This can lead to new ideas, creativity, tolerance and so much more.

  1. Laugh at yourself frequently.

Life is serious business but we it is also filled with fun. Avoid taking everything too seriously. Avoid taking yourself too seriously.

  1. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.

It shouldn’t be about WHO is right but rather WHAT is right. The right action, the right words, the right concept, the right way to treat others. Don’t keep score of who is right or wrong. Instead, DO what is best.

  1. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.

There are times when every one of us has been positive we’ve been right about something only to discover we weren’t. This is part of life, part of being human. When we find ourselves in this situation, we should admit it, accept the correct information and move positively in that direction.

  1. Give up blood sports.

It is detrimental when others get hurt because of our need to excel above all else. Collaboration and cooperation if all aspects of life lead to greater achievement and success.

  1. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously. And never endanger the life of another.

We need to look out for the wellbeing of ourselves but also be concerned for the health of others. Don’t allow or encourage others to take on too much, overworking themselves to meet a deadline or get that perfect grade on a test. Our health is paramount above all else.

  1. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)

Sometimes the truth is tough to share but honesty in all areas of life is the best policy. We can be honest in a kind and caring manner, giving others information they need to make the best choices and decisions, to enable them to grow.

  1. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.

Make sure you truly understand what the people in your life need, be it your family, friends, coworkers, employees, etc. Respect each person’s individual needs, even if you don’t necessarily understand them. This goes a long way toward solid relationships and a sense of appreciation.

  1. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.

There is a quote about happiness being a journey rather than a destination. We are in charge of our own happiness and having a mission or purpose in life can go a long way toward making our journey fun and enjoyable.

  1. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.

We all enjoy talking about ourselves but to connect with others, we should do our best to ask about and be interested in the people in our lives. Limiting our use of the words “I”, “Me”, “Mine, etc. helps turn conversations toward our friends, family, work team, and acquaintances.

  1. Praise at least as often as you disparage.

There is a rule that says for each criticism, we must offer three appreciations or items of praise. When this balance is skewed the other way, people are less apt to accept our feedback.

  1. Never let your errors pass without admission.

When we are wrong, have made a mistake or hurt someone else, even inadvertently, we should apologize. Sincerely and right away.

  1. Become less suspicious of joy.

Other people’s happiness is not at our expense. It is wonderful when great things happen to others. Instead of being envious or feeling lesser than, we should revel in that person’s joy.

  1. Understand humility.

Being humble is a trait that attracts others. Humility and success are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to be both. It is also to be proud of our successes without bragging.

  1. Forgive.

Holding a grudge or hanging onto anger or resentment is equivalent to drinking poison and expecting another person to fall ill. Forgiveness helps us. It frees our soul, opens our heart and allows us to move on unencumbered.

  1. Foster dignity.

We are all just people. Each of us deserves respect and dignity. By respecting others no matter how different, by expressing our gratitude, we are promoting the spread of dignity.

  1. Live memorably.

Live for memories instead of material things. Travel. Try things that scare you. Explore. Be adventurous. You only live once. Make it a memorable life.

  1. Love yourself.

Love yourself, but take rule #20 into account. Know that you are worthy and of value without feeling the need to share this with everyone.

  1. Endure.

As wonderful as life can be, it is also filled with struggle, pain, and disappointment. Be resilient. Look for the blessings in life even during the darkest hours. Always remember that this, too, shall pass.

When we strive to forgive, be humble, acknowledge and learn from our mistakes, live memorably and with dignity, practice patience, compliment more than we criticize, never assume, laugh and love ourselves and others, we are better people and the world is a better place.

May your day be filled with gratitude and good things.

Article excerpt from notosh.