Butch Mazzuca
Vail, CO, Colorado

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December 29, 2012
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Vail Daily columnist Butch Mazzuca: Quick guide to a better life

Years ago, someone suggested to me that one of the keys to a happy life was to bring only loving and caring people of good character into my life. I haven't always followed that advice (to my detriment), but I have jettisoned a number of relationships that failed to meet those criteria and am happier for it.

So may I suggest that before entering any new relationship, whether it's a romantic interest or a new ski buddy, first ask yourself, "Does this person mean me well?"

If you cannot answer with an unequivocal yes, it may be time to move on.

Most of us are aware of the issues we face as a society. But how often do we ask ourselves what we've done personally to address them?

It behooves each of us to take a good look at ourselves every now and again to see if in the past five, 10 (or even 20) years we've significantly altered our views on politics, religion, social issues and even

friendships.

Courage is exemplified in a multitude of ways. And one of them is expressing our real feelings. Too often we suppress our feelings in order to keep peace with others. Consequently, we settle for a less than authentic existence.

While it may be uncomfortable at first, speaking honestly and candidly is, in the end, liberating. And if it costs a friendship, then you were probably better off without that friend in the first place.

Try having a meaningful conversation with someone 10 to 20 years outside of your age bracket. Better yet, have that conversation with someone of a different race, a recent immigrant or anyone whose life position differs significantly from your own. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Do we work too hard? I'm not aware of anyone who has ever said, "I wish I had worked another day" while on their deathbed. How often do we miss our children's youth or our partner's companionship because we needed to get that last item taken care of before we leave work for the day? Stopping to smell the roses never hurt anyone.

To find out how open minded you really are, try this imaginative process: Take a social or political position that is a polar opposite from your own and then formulate it so that its proponents would be satisfied with the way you have stated it. Then, and only then, try to refute it with reason, logic and facts rather than rhetoric, emotion or name-calling.

Here's another interesting exercise. Ask yourself, "What are my proximate goals in life?" Then ask, "What are my ultimate goals in life?" This simple exercise will help you ascertain whether or not your proximate goals are leading you towards or away from your ultimate goals.

o A long-time friend of mine recently emailed to tell me that he is not going to miss another reunion of any type. Be it high school, his college fraternity or his former military service unit, my friend won't allow an opportunity to reunite with old friends to pass.

He ends all his emails with, "Take a look at your birth certificate. Tomorrow is promised to no one." There's much wisdom in those words.

o Often we don't realize the full benefits of old friends until it's too late (for them or us). We tend to become so caught up in their own lives that we allow golden friendships to slip by over the years.

o To gain a measure of your moral compass, try this simple exercise. The next time you hear a news story that appalls or outrages you, take a moment and ask yourself how and under what circumstances might you react differently.

o Are we living the life and doing the things we want to do? A common deathbed refrain is "I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself not the life others expected of me."

When people realize their life is almost over and look back on it, it's easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Remember this.

From the moment you lose your health, it's already too late. Health brings a freedom very few (especially the young) realize, until they no longer have it.

o True success means having: 1) Peace of mind, i.e., freedom from fear, freedom from anger and freedom from guilt. 2) Good health and a high level of energy. 3) Long-term, intimate and mature relationships with other people. 4) Enough money that we do not worry about it. 5) A commitment to worthy goals and ideals. 6) A feeling of personal fulfillment and self-actualization.

Quote of the day: "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" Bob Hope

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at bmazz68@comcast.net.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 29, 2012 01:30PM Published Dec 29, 2012 01:29PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.