Step One. Read the list below and name someone you know personally who practices these things. One item, one name. Bonus points if you end up with fifteen or more names.
1. Experiences weather first hand, every day, even in winter.
2. Buys from kids’ lemonade stands.
4. Listens to music by independent and unknown artists.
5. Attempts the impossible. Laughs like a buccaneer at the slightest success.
6. Strikes up positive conversations with random strangers.
7. Combats their own cranky mood by making someone else laugh uproariously.
8. Is helpful, even if it when it makes him or her late.
9. Recognizes that their generation is living in a world no more and no less difficult than it was for his or her predecessors. Sees life through the eyes of their predecessors and learns from their lessons.
10. Recognizes that life will be just as difficult in the future as it is now – different, but no more and no less difficult than in today’s world. Prepares youth for the future with the skills and tools they’ll need, and not with unsolicited advice.
11. Prioritizes their life, their budget and their time in an honest and realistic manner.
12. Uses their time productively, even when they’re tired.
13. Never lets the hours on the cell phone outnumber the hours spent face to face.
14. Avoids promises. Keeps them, if made.
15. Avoids the temptation to curse. “Yes” means “yes,” “no” means “no”, and “ow” means “OW!”
17. Listens with their mouth closed.
18. Respects the people they dislike.
19. Stops gossip and backs away from destructive conversations.
20. Stands up for others. Brave but cautious. Forthright but never abusive. Looks for the good in everyone, even when it’s really, really hard to find.
21. Counts their blessings.
22. Accepts the consequences of their actions.
23. The fullness of their life is measured by what fills the everyday, and not by their vacations.
24. Gets involved or leaves well enough alone. Never complains without offering a solution.
25. Practices the old virtues. Long-suffering. Tolerance. Moderation. Courage. Honesty. Humility. Kindness. Patience. Forgiveness. Compassion.
Step Two. If it’s still possible, check up on every person you’ve named on the list – preferably in person. If it's not possible, write them a letter and put it somewhere safe.
Step Three. Follow their example.
Step Four. Be an example for others.
I can’t say that this is a complete list. I can’t even say it’s a good list. But what I can say is that these are things I crave in others, and these are the things I aspire to, while I grow up.
Better yet. Come up with your own list, and share it.