Last night I opened what I consider to be one my great guilty pleasures in life, a bag of Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds. If you’ve never had a Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almond, you are missing out my friend. In fact, they are so tasty that they were the one food I chose to bring with me to the hospital for the birth of my daughter. I’d heard horror stories of wives laboring for 12, 15, or 20 hours with very little time between contractions for their poor husbands to leave the room to replenish their empty man stomachs. Although I now admit that I was probably a bit overly concerned about the struggle against hunger that I might face if my wife’s labor left me unable to leave her side for 12-20 hours, I will say that my snack food of choice (if it had been the only thing available to sustain and nourish me) would not have let me down. Those little bite-sized bits of delicious salty almond goodness came through for me in a big way last September.
Understandably, when I think about A) how delicious those almonds are to begin with and B) how I now associate them with one of the most joyful and meaningful experiences of my life, it’s no wonder I harbor such a strong affinity to them these days. The problem is that once I start going on those bad boys, I find my own personal willpower and restraint begins to wane. I can’t just eat one Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almond at a time. If I’m feeling fairly strong when I start eating them, I can usually stop myself at around two dozen nuts. But that’s really only on a good day. More often than not, once I start on a bag of smokehouse almonds, it’s only a matter of time before I’m staring at the bottom of the bag and licking salt off my fingers.
Now… you might be asking yourself, what in the junk does M&M’s strange obsession with salty almonds have to with his non-negotiable unalterable terms?
When I first set out to define my non-negotiable unalterable terms, I thought each one of them might merit a blog post of its own. However, as I have gone through the exercise of defining, considering, and listing my own N.U.T.’s each week, it’s been more and more difficult to limit them to simply one a week. And so, much like I can’t eat just one Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almond a week, I’ve decided that I can no longer list just one of my N.U.T.’s each week. For a N.U.T., much like a Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almond, is always better consumed in a group than by itself. And it’s with those thoughts in mind that I give you my entire list of my N.U.T.’s. Some of these I may come back to explore further in later posts and some of them stand fairly well on their own merits.
From the beginning, my non-negotiable unalterable terms are as follows:
#6. I don’t take things too seriously except for those things that I take seriously. Life is too short to major in the minors.
#7. I am OK with my emotions. Whether I’m happy, sad, angry, amused, excited, scared, optimistic, pessimistic, or any other range of emotions, I’m OK. I am open to experiencing my emotions without being controlled by them. They inform my thoughts, attitudes, and actions without controlling them.
#8. I protect and fight for my wife and daughter. It’s a big scary world out there and I am committed to fighting for the heart, mind, body, and soul of the two women I love.
#9. I floss my teeth and go to the dentist regularly. In my early twenties I went almost 8 years without going to the dentist. This is quite possibly my biggest regret in life.
#10. I have few regrets. Everything happens for a reason.
#11. I take care of my body through proper nutrition and physical activity.
#12. I try to love God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind. I try to treat other people better than I want to be treated. Everything else is just logistics.
#13. I make meaning of my experiences by writing about them – sometimes publicly, sometimes privately. Always honestly.
#14. I solve problems and get stuff done. When others get stuck over-analyzing why or where things went wrong, I focus on the next steps I can take to make things better… and then I start walking.
#15. I say what I want to say as long as it is not malicious.
#16. I make less money than I’m worth. If I make $1 million this year, my integrity, my character, my values, everything that is at the core of who I am as a man and a child of God is still worth more. In other words, I am priceless. I can not be bought.
#17. I am a lifelong learner. I look for knowledge in scripture, books, research, other people, the internet, blogs, and anywhere else I can find it. I learn from my successes and my failures.
#18. I don’t work when I’m not working.
#19. I own up to my mistakes.
#20. When in doubt, I pray. Sometimes, while waiting for an answer, I search the internet.
#21. I ask for directions. If I’m lost, I ask people for help getting back on course. When there’s no one to ask, I use GPS.
#22. I seek the wisdom of men who have gone before me.
#23. I give money to worthy causes and worthy people.
#24. I understand what makes me happy. I don’t need more stuff to be happy. I don’t need a promotion or a bigger office to be happy. I don’t need more letters after my name to be happy. I don’t need to volunteer more often to be happy. I don’t need to participate in every good ministry to be happy. I don’t need to say yes to every opportunity to be happy. Ambition for ambition’s sake is my enemy. I work diligently to eradicate words like “should” and “ought” from my vocabulary. Being there for my family makes me happy. Romancing my wife makes me happy. Delighting my daughter makes me happy. Spending quality and quantity time with my loved ones makes me happy. Mentoring younger men makes me happy. Hooking a rainbow trout makes me happy. Reading makes me happy. Loving other people makes me happy. Enjoying the green hue of the grass on my side of the fence makes me happy. Trying to live like Christ makes me happy.
#25. I am true to my own definition of success.
#26. I appreciate and accept honest feedback.
#27. I make lemonade. Sometimes the pitcher throws a curve ball. Sometimes daily annoyances add up and take their toll. Sometimes situations that are out of my control affect me negatively. Sometimes I whine about it. Most of the time I try to focus on what I can control, namely, my attitude and my response. I know that no matter how bad things might be, they could always be worse. When life gives me lemons, I make lemonade.
#28. I choose to pursue friendship with people whose values and priorities are similar to my own.
#29. I value people over things.
#30. I value simplicity.
#31. I take risks.
#32. I am patient with people and situations.
#33. I am not afraid to offer my opinion even if it is contrary to what is popular.
#34. I guard my heart for it is the well-spring of life.
There you have it… that’s my list of non-negotiable unalterable terms. And while it is a fairly lengthy list, I will admit that it is probably still not comprehensive. But hey, if I can manage to stay true to these things, at the end of the day, I will be living the kind of life I want for myself and my family. What more can a man ask?