Rule No. 5

Out of sheer interest and perhaps a sign of getting old as well, I snatched the Rules of Life , a personal code for living better written by Richard Templar. I don’t know Templar but I’ve read positive reviews about the book so I reckon I might learn something if I gave it a read. Having no luxury of time to read nowadays, I prefer those books that don’t beat around the bush and gets to the meat of the matter in bullet point fashion. Such is this book. It contains 100 rules , a rule spreading to a couple pages the most, covering personal, partnership, family and social rules. Rule No 5 grabbed me. Below is an excerpt from the book.


Rule No 5 : Know What Counts and What Doesn’t

Being here counts. Being kind and considerate counts. Getting through each day without seriously offending or hurting anyone counts. Having the latest technology doesn’t.

Sorry, I don’t have a downer on technology. In fact, I pretty much have the latest gizmos. I just (a) don’t overly rely too much on any of it and (b) see them as useful tools rather than having any intrinsic meaning in themselves, in a status symbol or one-up-person ship kind of way.

Doing something with your life counts. Going shopping because you’re bored doesn’t. Yes, by all means go shopping, but see what you do as counting or not counting, being real or not being real, being of some benefit or not. This does not mean chucking it all up and going off to some fly-infested swamp to work with the locals and catch malaria – although that in itself would count, but you don’t go to those extremes to make your life meaningful.

I guess the Rule means focusing on what is important, to you in your life, and making positive changes to ensure you feel happy in what you are dedicating your life to. It doesn’t mean long-term plans mapped out to the smallest detail. I means knowing, roughly, where you are going and what you are doing. Awake rather than asleep. A fellow author, Tim Freke, calls it *lucid living* – a perfect term for what we are talking about.

THERE ARE SOME THINGS IN LIFE THAT ARE IMPORTANT AND A WHOLE LOT OF THINGS THAT AREN’T. It doesn’t take too much discrimination to work out which are which. And there a lot more things that don’t count, aren’t really important to choose from. I’m not saying that we can’t have trivia in our lives – we can and it’s just fine. Just don’t go mistaking the trivia for what is really important. Having time for loved ones and friends is important, watching the latest soap isn’t. Repaying a debt is important, what brand of washing machine power you use isn’t. Nurturing our children and teaching them real values is important, dressing them in designer fashion isn’t. You get the idea. Think about what you do that counts – and do more of it.


A radio announcer blurted out this joke on the radio sometime ago…. “ a mother who buys her baby a $1,000 Jeep stroller has an ugly baby”. It is not necessarily true but one can read between the lines and discern the message. Is life all about working to acquire possessions to either show off or keep up with the Joneses ? Do we ever pause and think of things that count and those that don’t? Is the distinction really necessary? Perhaps and the author puts forth a challenge to our sense of values and encourages us to rethink our priorities and focus on things that count. We all have varying personal predicaments , cultural biases and societal pressures that finding out what really counts can be terribly subjective.

A woman I know who had a habit of amassing jewelry back in Pinas found no real use of them when she migrated to North America and settled in a suburban, middle-class community with a few Pinoy families. The people in the neighborhood including her Pinoy friends were quite prosperous but they never seemed to care about jewelry and designer clothes. They wore clothes and watches they wanted. People weren’t putting premium on designer clothing and weren’t too concerned about upscale vs. ordinary. They seemed to be more interested in taking their families to camping trips on weekends and seemingly boring activities such as participating in local baseball leagues in summer and skiing lessons in winter. Suddenly there’s a dramatic shift on what counts and what doesn’t dictated not by her conscience by the new society she moved into.

Nonetheless, we are all guilty of self-indulgence and there comes a point in our journey when are in quandary of our very existence and the need to feel that we are living our lives for a nobler purpose emerges from our innermost being. We don’t need the big splash… just doing more of the little things that count and I agree.


19 Responses

  1. Nice post BW. Yes, it’s true that through our journey, priorities change. What matters before meant differently in a certain point in time. I’ve experienced this personally and it’s very humbling. When I see or read people who’ve likewise had my previous thought, I’d say to myself, well, h/she isn’t ‘there’ yet.

    Have a nice weekend!

  2. That’s very true Ipanema. It takes some time for other people to understand what really counts in life. It is also a learning experience seeing someone transformed ( a relief in some cases..LOL).

    I’ve decided to rest this weekend in view of a really hectic week. Hope your weekend is great as well.

  3. Wise words.
    I decided to change my life radically a few years back. It was hard in the beginning but now I feel much better and more in harmony with my surroundings. I live in the moment and not in the past or future. I just enjoy my life and try to be kind with the people I live with and the ones I meet. I was never that happy…
    How do you say that… masarap ang buhay ko? 😉

  4. Great to hear that Sidney. I’m sure you’re finding a lot of meaning in life now than you did before.. as you correctly said ” masarap ang buhay mo”!

  5. Great post!

  6. Very well written post. This is sort of the same rule I am trying to instill in my kids. We, for one, don’t have the latest tech gizmos. Not only do they cost a lot but I think it takes away time from spending it with family.

    I also know someone who’d rather work extra long hours just to be able to afford two cars. And the kids are left home alone to look after themselves and see only little of their parents. I just couldn’t live that way.

  7. The keeping up with the joneses attitude of some folks is really irritating, I know of a few who just had to have the latest in everything because mr. so and so also has one, although they don’t really need them. When asked why, they’d reply: Because I can… some people never grow up.

  8. another rule.. know what you need and what you just want 🙂

  9. truly a nice post.

    when my kids were younger, and they wanted something, and there wasnt enough money, i used to tell them ‘when i have money’. they wouldnt insist. the next time they wanted something they’d tell me, “ma, when you have money, can we buy this?” now that they are growing, they had learned to live up with what is at hand. and i feel that even without the abundance of the latest tech gizmos and other luxuries, they are happy. that is what is important – money cant buy us happiness, and it cant even buy us a good sleep.

  10. Iravan – thanks

    Niceheart – how true and it’s really a matter of establishing our priorities. It is easy to waste money on things that really don’t count. There’s a fine line with acquiring the finer things in life versus what is necessary and reasonable.

  11. Snglguy – I’ve seen that too. That’s the pre-occupation of some people. The baromoter of their achievement seems to be indexed on what others achieve!

  12. Tin – how true and we are all guilty of it in some way aren’t we? More often than not we acquire things that we don’t need 🙂 We can’t be prefect but I guess we should know ourselves better.

  13. Bing – very true indeed.I also think that those who have been blessed by abundant wealth the ones having more difficulty establishing what counts and what doesn’t:)

  14. A very good and timely post, BW. We need to read something like this every now and then to help us reevaluate our lives and maintain balance, so to speak.

    The NY Times once had a feature article claiming that most Manhattan residents are neurotics, because there’s always someone with bigger, better, nicer, and more expensive stuff. So instead of enjoying what they have, people tend to be focused on yet another stuff without even enjoying what they already have at the moment.

    I should buy this book. Thanks for sharing!

  15. You’re welcome Senor. We definitely need to maintance the balance. The rat race in a big city like NY tends to make us forget that there’s many things we do that don’t really count.

  16. I can tell by the quotations you presented here that this book is ultimately profound. You could say, in life, there are so many things we need to address and had been bothering us for us for sometime but we seem not to get over it, or get past it, and it takes time for us to overcome it, and struggle through it. I think the Rules of Life is all about this everyday phenomena. Even without being told, we know subconsciously, or even outrightly, the things that count and the other things that don’t. We already know that eating nutritiously and balancely is ultimately good for us, but we just can’t get away from a good bowl of vanilla ice cream or that fatty meat broiling over at the kitchen. It takes time for us to finally get hold of ourselves and do the things that really counts.

    But this book can certainly help us speed up our realization bout the things that should matter most.

  17. Right on Major Tom. For me its a reminder of how I must set up my priorities. Sometimes we are so enamoured by things that are really meaningless. I’m quite happy that my wife also read this book, albeit partially.. LOL

  18. let me check how rule 5 works on me
    meanwhile…love the diamonds
    oh my mind’s askew


  19. It sure would be dandy to have them little stones in your safety deposit box!

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