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Rule 6: Dedicate Your Life to Something

To know what counts and what doesn’t, you have to know what you are dedicating your life to. There are, of course, no right or wrong answers to this one because it’s a very personal choice—but it’s really useful to have an answer, rather than not really knowing.

As an example, my own life has been driven by two things: (a) someone once told me that if my soul or spirit was the only thing I was likely to be taking with me when I went, then it ought to be the best thing I had; (b) my curious upbringing.

The first one isn’t, for me at least, in any way religious. It just struck a chord with me, triggered something. Whatever it was I was taking with me, then perhaps I ought to do a bit of work on it. Make sure it really is the very best thing about me. That got me thinking. How on earth do you go about that? The answer still is that I haven’t got a clue. I have explored and experimented, learned and made mistakes, been a seeker and a follower, read and observed, and wrestled with this great problem all my life. How do you go about improving your life on that level? I think the only conclusion I have come to is to live as decent a life as possible, to go through causing as little damage as possible, to treat everyone with whom you come into contact with respect and dignity. It’s something to dedicate my life to and it works for me.

And how can my curious upbringing cause me to focus on what I am dedicating my life to? Well, having had a "dysfunctional" upbringing and having chosen to let it motivate me rather than affect me, I am acutely aware that many people also need to get rid of that feeling of being badly affected by what has gone before. This is what I dedicate my life to. Yes, it might be crazy; I might be crazy. But at least I have something I can focus on, something (for me) that counts.

Now none of this is big stuff, and by that I mean I don’t go around with this emblazoned on my forehead—"Templar dedicates his life to . . ." sort of thing. It’s more that quietly, in my heart, I have something that I can devote my attention to. It’s a yardstick by which I can measure (a) how I’m doing, (b) what I’m doing, and (c) where I’m going. You don’t need to trumpet it. You don’t need to tell anyone (see Rule 1). You don’t even need to think it out in too much detail. A simple internal mission statement will do. Disney’s mission for example is: "To make people happy." Decide what it is you are dedicating your life to. It makes the rest much easier.

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