Tomorrow is my 82nd birthday, and these last few years I have been reviewing the risks to my health and continued existence on my birthday. I looked back to October 1, 2013 and found Update on my life risks as of my 78th birthday. At that time I rewrote the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s famous Categorical ImperativeMake your every action suitable for a Universal Law. That is too complex a thought for me so I wrote a parallel idea which I called,  The Personal Imperative – Avoid everything that might harm your body or mind. 

I have been cultivating that idea as a habit for the last four years and have upgraded it a bit to be more inclusive of other people. It would now be … The Social Imperative – Help other people avoid everything that might harm their body or mind. That sentence sounds intrusive and manipulative but it is intended more as a suggestion and not as a directive command.

The idea behind that statement is that it is easier to see things that are external to one’s own behavior. It is hard to observe your own behavior while actively doing a thing because your consciousness is caught up in what you are doing. In the moment of action, everything is running on automatic and any thinking during the action is going to degrade the quality of that action. Thus to avoid injuring your mind or body it is helpful to observe others doing dangerous things and project yourself into their situation and consider what your actions might be. This procedure works with your own mirror-neurons’ automatic behaviors and the advantage to you is that when you make a mistake you don’t get hurt. However, you can learn new habits using that technique.

I watch Steven Colbert’s TV show and occasionally while interviewing successful celebrities they will discuss how they developed their public personas. One of the techniques they often mention is copying and rehearsing the actions of their successful predecessors. If one wants to be a standup comic, rehearse and personalize what you perceive of those successful standup comics. If you want to live a long and contented life, watch carefully people who have those qualities and rehearse the actions that appear to lead to their success and personalize them.

Mingle with the masters of your chosen direction in life.