How to Live a Good Life. Here are a Few Tips From My Personal Experience.
Who I Am and Why I am Me
I think I have lived a fairly full and interesting life.
This came home to me in 2008, when, for my 70th birthday party, I created an invitation card based on photos of me at different stages of my life coupled with a list of single words which described me as I am, what I can do, what I have been, and what I have done, throughout those 70 years.
I hasten to add that I have never done anything spectacular. No mountains climbed, no oceans rowed, no Oscars, no Nobel prizes, no achievements that I would regard in any way as special.
And yet, I am proud to be me. I am honest and decent. I respect other people and their property, and try to help my fellow humans where I can. I deplore bad manners, bad behaviour, inefficiency and incompetence, and a general lack of respect and consideration for others, and am not afraid to speak out against these things.
I am what I am. And I am what I am because of what I have been.
It actually only occurred to me fully when I started to write this article, that the person I am today is wholly the product of the events and people that have affected me throughout my life.
Born Into the Chaos of War
Surrounded by fear and deprivation
I was conceived out of wedlock and born into relative poverty in 1938, just before the outbreak of World War II. As the eldest of four children, I was doted on by my large extended working class family but grew up shy and somewhat in awe of my elders.
For six of my first seven years, I suffered the traumas of war-time Britain in one of the worst hit places, the East End of London.
As a child I probably absorbed the fear experienced by those closest to me and became very observant by nature. Constant shortages of food and all the necessities of life, gave me an appreciation of the little things, made me frugal and taught me the practicalities of make do and mend.
As a child growing up in London's back streets, playing out on bomb sites, making my own toys and scrounging for pennies, I became resilient and self-sufficient. I learned to cope with life and quietly stand up for myself.
Read more about my childhood in my article at:
My father was a trained engineer fitter with many practical skills, which he was eager to pass on to me. My mother taught me to read and write and encouraged me to do so. My childless aunts and uncles took me under their wing and taught me manners, morals, and general knowledge. Not just what to do, but why it was important. I received a rounded education before I ever went to school.
I coped with primary school as well as any child and was generally very happy. I eventually sat and passed the UK 11+ exam at age 10 and would have gone on to the local Grammar school but for a seismic piece of good fortune, which was to have a lifelong and life-changing effect!
One day, out of the blue, an official from our local town council came to see my parents and me. It appears I was one of half a dozen 10-yearolds in local schools judged to have the potential to benefit from a public school education, and they were prepared to pay all fees and expenses for me to attend a private boarding school!
This was a stroke of pure LUCK! The JUDGEMENT part came in grabbing this 'once in a lifetime' opportunity.
From Rags to Educational Riches
The chance of a lifetime
My parents were over the moon for me. For my part I was fairly nonchalant. Whatever!
Little did I realize the momentous effect this change of direction would have on my life, and how I would remember the next few years with utmost pride and affection until the day I die.
Some months later, I started as a pupil at, in my view, one of the finest public schools in Britain, Christ's Hospital near Horsham in Sussex. During the next six years I was to discover who I really was and to lay the foundations for a happy and, in personal terms, generally successful life.
Christ's Hospital School. A view across the quad to the school hall with classroom blocks on either side. Behind the camera is the massive, and even more impressive, Dining Hall, where 900 boys and staff took meals three times every day, and the avenue of 'Houses' where they all lived during term time.
One day I'll write an article about this amazing place, it's unique life-style and the tremendous benefits it has bestowed on so many boys (and these days girls alike) from normal and often under-priviledged backgrounds.
Public School Life in the 1940s/50s
Not a bit like school today!
At Christ's Hospital, during a fine all round academic education from some brilliant teachers, I also discovered many things about myself. How to interact socially with other people. How to cope with life's inevitable ups and downs and perceive problems, not as set-backs, but as challenges and opportunities.
I developed my own strengths: perseverance, reliability, loyalty, self-reliance, creativity, leadership, curiosity and philosophy. I made mistakes and sometimes paid the price, but looking back, if I have any small regrets they are not for anything I did but only for things I didn't do.
My life at boarding school sadly came to an end early, after six years, for family financial reasons, and I was denied the chance to go on to university as most of my friends did.
Instead, despite my public school education, and under some pressure from my father, I began a five year engineering apprenticeship. However, after two years, I decided this was not taking me in a direction I wanted to go and promptly left.
A Spell in the Army. Another Learning Curve - I was a hard but compassionate taskmaster
As National Service was still compulsory in the UK, my exemption as an apprentice abruptly came to an end and I was called up immediately to serve two years in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
I was actually delighted! Having lived away from home since I was 11, this new chapter in my life held no fears for me and, partly due to my cadet training at school, I quickly became a Drill and Weapon Training Instructor. The adventure of the following two years will no doubt be the subject of a future Hubpages article.
Back to Reality. Getting a Proper Job
Jack of all trades ... I did master a few!
At the age of twenty-one, I was demobbed from the Army and began a working life in Civvy Street which was to last another 38 years. Starting as a management trainee, I progressed through many grand sounding job titles, usually far more impressive than the reality. These included assistant manager, manager, executive, and company director.
I worked in sales, marketing, planning and production departments and also spent many years being self-employed. I have been a printer, wholesale distributor, minicab driver, systems analyst, computer programmer, double-glazing salesman, painter and decorator, odd job man, employer, courier, shop keeper, car salesman, burglar alarm salesman, author, 2nd degree Reiki practitioner, builder, and motor caravan converter, to name but a few.
Finally My Own Home and Family
A source of constant pride and happiness
I met and married my late wife during my first job after Army service. We had two wonderful daughters and I now have five amazing grandchildren. My personal philosophy of life involves the pursuit of happiness, maintaining a sense of humour and being kind and respectful to my fellow human beings.
In August 2010, I was lucky enough to be able to take my family on a mediterranean cruise. Here we are on "Black and White Night" with my partner Jenny, my daughters and their partners and my five grandchildren.
Cruising will be the subject of another of my Hubpages yet to be created.
How I Now Like to Spend My Time - A procrastinating eager beaver with mild OCD
My hobbies, skills and interests cover a totally unmanageable range and include: D.I.Y. involving carpentry, plumbing, electrical and building, writing (especially on Squidoo and more recently, Hubpages!), directing and performing in amateur productions, music and playing guitar, keyboard and harmonica purely for my own entertainment, designing and building websites, doing cryptic crosswords, sudoku and quizzes, using practical philosophy to study people and work out what makes them tick, current affairs, keeping fit with reasonable exercise (mainly walking). I retired from golf and squash about the time I turned 80, but still pursue a generally healthy lifestyle whilst having fun on my own terms. I aim to live another 15-20 years at least.
A Well-earned Retirement - Is that what they call it?
Though I retired from full time work about 22 years ago, there never is, and never will be enough time to do all the things I want to do.
I make lists, and lists of lists, and add to them faster than I strike things off. I am never bored because I am constantly battling to keep up with this self-imposed schedule of activity.
If you are thinking about retirement, why not pick up some tips from my hub:
One Last Wish. - Everyone should be granted at least one!
Due as much to the times in which I lived, and the people I was lucky enough to encounter, as to my own personal endeavour, I have had, I believe, a charmed life.
I am now as happy as I would wish to be and totally comfortable with who I am. My wish would be that everyone in this world could feel as I do. Bless you all!
Weird Things I Can Do - (I think I can, therefore I can!)
- Put myself to sleep. At night, if I have something playing on my mind and I want to go to sleep, I use one or two simple routines to clear my mind and sink into a deep refreshing sleep. My partner, who suffers from insomnia, envies me as she hears me go off.
- Wake myself up. I discovered as a schoolboy that if I had homework to finish and needed to get up early, I could mentally set a time to wake long before the normal alarm call. I would then go to sleep and sure enough my eyes would open just as the school clock chimed the appointed hour.
- Do Reiki on myself. Some years ago I took a course on 2nd Degree Reiki (Japanese healing). I don't practice on other people, but I sometimes use it on myself to get rid of headaches or other pains or problems.
- Mentally Resolve Disputes. You can't get through life without occasionally crossing swords with someone. Instead of just plain worrying about an uncomfortable situation, I spend time in my mind rehearsing a face to face conversation with the person putting my point of view firmly and resolutely. I sometimes do this out loud if I am on my own. Sometimes I see flaws in my own argument and change tack, but more often than not it seems this process somehow communicates to the other side and the problem goes away before any confrontation is actually necessary.
- Make My Own Luck! I used to think I had a guardian angel, but now I believe it's just the power of positive thinking. Things seem to just fall in place for me. In a totally full car park, someone will just pull out of a space as I come along. If I need a piece of wood, metal or other material for a small job at home, I can lay my hands on exactly the right thing in the shed or loft etc.
Mind you, some people would call this hoarding! You can read about my mild OCD at: How To Live with Mild OCD and Use It to Your Advantage