According to Webster’s Dictionary, principles are “fundamental truths or propositions that serve as the foundation for a system of beliefs, or behaviors; rules or beliefs governing one’s personal behavior.” I believe that principles are instilled in childhood, shaped and tested in youth, and mastered in adulthood. Ideally, that is. But what happens when, as a child, you don’t have sufficient role models to teach you these principles?
What happens, when your childhood is fraught with trauma, the majority of your teenage years are spent locked away, and 30 years of your adulthood is spent abusing alcohol and drugs? To put it simply: what happens is your principles end up being either completely absent, hastily and vaguely pasted into existence, or ignored entirely; often with disastrous results. I’m speaking of myself, of course. Which is part of my outline for a book idea I have been kicking around now, tentatively titled Principles of Purpose: A Guide to Living Wisely.
Before I illustrate the concept, what is purpose? According to Webster’s Dictionary, purpose can be “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists, a person’s sense of resolve or determination or a particular requirement or consideration.” For example, you want to buy a new car, but you need a large down payment. Simple enough: you save money weekly, until you have enough for the down payment.
The action = saving money, the reason (purpose) = to have enough down payment to buy a car. Obviously this is simplified, for the purpose–ha,ha–of illustrating the basic concept. But oh, how the waters become muddied when you try to assimilate principles with purpose, in order to live life wisely.
So Principles of Purpose: A Guide to Living Life Wisely, delves much deeper than a simple act of causality (I need to save money, so I can buy a car), illustrated with examples throughout my own life, I want to share with you 30 principles that have had a dramatic impact on my life. Whether they were actually applied, ignored, or unknown to me principles that, had they been instilled in me at a young age, would likely have prevented a lot of the chaos and hell my life ended up being. Principles that, once I learned them (however late in life), my life improved exponentially. Principles that most likely will seem obvious to you, even familiar as ones you practice religiously. Not all of us have been so lucky. Not all of us got the memo.
You see, having gotten out of the starting block so poorly unprepared for a deep and abiding understanding of the kinds of principles that one needs to be successful in life, my teenage years were spent making up my own principles. Needless to say, those principles were really just knee-jerk reactions to the new world I was part of. A world in which I was free to express myself.
Finally free of my childhood oppressors, I was ill-equipped for dealing with the emotions that would come to the surface and articulate themselves in many unhealthy ways. Impulsivity ruled the day. Once in college, alcohol took the driver’s seat and informed the way for just about 35 years. However, there were some principles that served me well.
In Principles of Purpose, I have the benefit of hindsight and it is indeed 20/20. Look, I’m not saying I was completely ignorant of important principles that could have helped me navigate my way out of the trauma and chaos of my youth. Because I had no reference points, much of my life from 12-27 was spent on chaos. What I am saying is that, through recovery I gained incredible insights into my behaviors and ways of thinking that often derailed my efforts to live my life more wisely. I hope that, in using my own life to illustrate the principles, those of you who have also struggled with “normalcy” can benefit in some way. And those of you who have not, at least will find some entertainment value along the way.