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“My creed is this: Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so.”Robert Ingersoll


Here are the many creeds I’ve collected over the past 50 years. I share them with you knowing that, if you wish, you can read, assimilate, and choose those phrases that strike your fancy or satisfy your current needs. They have been purposely placed as an addendum, so they become your voluntary choice, not ‘required’ reading. There may come a time when they will become valuable to you as they were to me. They were written by women and men, who obviously concluded, after much thought and personal experience, that they offered a roadmap to personal freedom and a joyful life. As you read, I am sure you will find a significant number of similar themes. Many agree on a substantial number of overlapping beliefs. Some may be very similar, but the words may be slightly different, yet, recognize a parallel vein of thought. Many more creeds were written by the less known, some perhaps lost, but were of equal wisdom. Perhaps some of the less known anonymous writers were part of that tree of wisdom. You will find some creeds to be short and prophetic and others long but equally profound. May the time taken to collect these priceless golden guides be a gift to my loved ones as part of my personal inheritance! You may prefer to read only a few and pause. It often takes time to read and re-read these cogent treasures. Each is packed with the wisdom of the ages.

Michael Josephson is a contemporary of mine, only two months younger. He has become a well-known attorney and law professor. He is a recognized speaker on issues of ethics and morality. His sobering and reality-based logic has a tendency to wake even the most comatose. “WHETHER YOU ARE READY OR NOT” is a power-packed summary of your destiny.



 Andy Rooney became the conscience of America. He began as a World War II correspondent. Until visiting the Nazi concentration camps after the war, he became a confirmed pacifist. However, after his visitation, he acceded there were indeed “just wars”. Rooney spoke from the gut and was sometimes controversial about social issues. Many of these issues were turned into TV specials. He was an inveterate supporter of the underdog, handcuffed with injustice. His 92 years of life reflect the fact that he practiced what he preached. I think you will find his wise words as a moral compass to a happy and successful life journey. A short version of his thoughts were shared earlier. Here is the complete compendium of his personal creed.



I've learned that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I've learned that when you're in love, it shows.

I've learned that just one person saying to me, "you've made my day!" makes my day.

I've learned that having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I've learned that being kind is more important than being right.

I've learned that you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I've learned that I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.

I've learned that no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I've learned that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I've learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I've learned that we should be glad that we don't get everything we asked for.

I've learned that under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I've learned that to ignore the facts does not change the fact.

I've learned that when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you. 

I've learned that love and hope, not time, heals all wounds.

I've learned that the best way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I've learned that everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I've learned that no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I've learned that life is tough, but I can be tougher.

I've learned that opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you missed.

I've learned that when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I've learned that I could have told my mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

I've learned that one should keep his words soft and tender because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I've learned that a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I've learned that when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, you're hooked for life.

I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the growth and happiness occurs while you're climbing it.

I've learned that the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done. 


As I’ve mentioned many times in this book, Ann Landers was one of my heroes and a significant mentor who gave guidance and clarity to my journey. She began writing her column in 1955 and continued until her death in 2002, at age 83. A missionary sent Ann Landers a Twelve Rule Prescription called “How to Live and Stay Young.” It was written by a fellow Jesuit priest, Reverend Joseph Maron, SJ. They make great sense and can be a guide to a healthy and happy life.


How to Live and Stay Young

  1. Look your troubles in the eye. Problems not faced do not go away. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs. Anticipate each dip, and prepare for it.

  2. Never say you can’t, but do say you won’t. Neither be so discouraged that you quit, nor so stupid, you won’t stop. Troubles come sooner and last longer for those who wear themselves out.

  3. For whatever you can no longer do, substitute something else. There is nothing more refreshing than a good nap, as long it’s followed by waking up.

  4. Don’t hide. If you want your special needs attended to, you have to make them known. Do not be ashamed of your limitations.

  5. Claim your rights and privileges, such as the right to refuse to eat more, the privilege of resting and pacing your activities, the right to assistance, the privilege of cutting back on your work, and so on.

  6. Be humble enough to accept help and proud enough to ask for it. Do not be ashamed to ask for what you need. Accept help graciously.

  7. Always offer a helping hand and a comforting ear. Stay interested in the world around you. Concern for others lightens your own concerns.

  8. Put anger, sadness, and regret behind you. It’s perfectly OK to feel anger at the pain and distress of growing old. It isn’t OK to stay angry. It’s perfectly OK to mourn the closing of chapters in your life. It isn’t OK to mourn the rest of your life. It’s OK to regret all the things you could or should have done differently. It isn’t OK not to forgive yourself or others. Don’t let your anger today spill over into tomorrow. Look back without regret and forward without dread.

  9. Always look for the bright side. We win or lose by how we interpret and react to everything that happens. Winning is rejoicing in what you have left. Losing is seeing only what you have lost.

  10. Take every day as it comes, and give it all you’ve got. The thing to be afraid of is not what you fear but letting the fear keep you from going on.

  11. Enjoy what each day brings. Be open with wonder and excitement to new experiences, even those that come with decline. Enjoy the ride down, even when you know there is no going back up.

  12. Stir up the tiger in your tank. Your body will still be the same old jalopy, but life will have more oomph and satisfaction.


Years ago, Ann Landers first published her prolific and prophetic piece called “Just for Today.” Years later, she reposted it several times in her newspaper column; I liked it the first time and continued to enjoy it again and again.


Just for Today

  • Just for today—I will live through the next 12 hours and not try to tackle all of life’s problems at once.

  • Just for today—I will improve my mind. I will learn something useful. I will read something that requires thought and consideration.

  • Just for today—I will be agreeable. I will look my best, speak, in a well-modulated voice, be courteous and considerate.

  • Just for today—I will not find fault with a friend, relative, or colleague. I will not try to change or improve anyone but myself.

  • Just for today—I will do a good turn and keep it a secret. If anyone finds out, it won’t count.

  • Just for today—I will have a written program. I might not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two enemies—hurry and indecision. 

  • Just for today—I will do two things I don’t want to do, just because I need the discipline.

  • Just for today—I will believe in myself. I will give my best to the world and feel confident that the world will give its best to me.


Of course, my dearest and favorite mentor, Ann Landers, shared her “10 Commandments on how to get along with people. Here they are:


The Ten Commandments of How to Get Along With People

  1. Keep skid chains on your tongue; always say less than you think. Cultivate a low, persuasive voice. How you say, it counts more than what you say.

  2. Make promises sparingly, and keep them faithfully, no matter what it costs.

  3. Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging word to or about somebody. Praise good work, regardless of who did it. If criticism is needed, criticize helpfully, never spitefully.

  4. Be interested in others, their pursuits, their work, their homes, and families. Make merry with those who rejoice; with those who weep, mourn. Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard him or her as a person of importance.

  5. Be cheerful. Don’t burden or depress those around you by dwelling on your minor aches and pains and small disappointments. Remember, everyone is carrying some kind of a load.

  6. Keep an open mind. Discuss, but don’t argue. It is a mark of a superior mind to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.

  7. Let your virtues speak for themselves Refuse to talk of another’s vices. Discourage gossip. It is a waste of valuable time and can be extremely destructive.

  8. Be careful of another’s feelings. Wit and humor at the other person’s expense are rarely worth it and may hurt when least expected.

  9. Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you. Remember, the person who carried the message may not be the most accurate reporter in the world. Simply live so that nobody will believe them. Disordered nerves and bad digestion are a common cause of backbiting.

  10. Don’t be too anxious about the credit due you. Do your best, and be patient. Forget about yourself, and let others “remember.” Success is much sweeter that way. Ann Landers, Syndicated Columnist

Dr. Randy Pausch was a Harvard professor who unfortunately died prematurely while in his 40s. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2008.  He wrote a book entitled “The Last Lecture”, which became a bestseller in 2007.  He left the following legacy behind:


A Guide to a Better Life

  • Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

  • Don’t have negative thoughts about things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.

  • Don’t overdo; keep your limits.

  • Don’t take yourself so seriously; no one else does.

  • Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.

  • Dream more while you are awake.

  • Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need….

  • Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner of his or her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.

  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.

  • Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.

  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

  • Realize that life is a school, and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

  • Smile and laugh more.

  • You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

  • Call your family often.

  • Each day give something good to others.

  • Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of six.

  • Try to make at least three people smile each day.

  • What other people think of you is none of your business.

  • Your job will not take care of you when you are sick. Your family and friends will. Stay in touch.

  • Do the right things.

  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

  • No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.

  • The best is yet to come.

  • Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.

  • When you awake, alive in the morning, thank God for it.


As a young man, my favorite basketball hero was UCLA coach John Wooden. In all of his 27 years as the Bruin head-coach, he never once asked his players to go out and win the game. He was not obsessed with focusing on winning. Instead, Coach Wooden simply asked that each player do their very best, that which they considered their greatest were capabilities. His emphasis was to be your best, you need to play your best, and only you could answer to yourself and no one else. This was his single and most important set of expectations. I attended the University of San Francisco, who had just won the remarkable distinction of winning 60 consecutive games, a record that was felt to be unfathomable and unattainable. Coach Wooden’s teams went on to surpass that unreachable record—a human feat only accomplished by the coach’s Creed below:

Coach John Wooden’s 10 Rules To Live By

  1. Corinthians 13. Have faith, hope, and charity—“and now abide faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of the these is charity.”

  2. Make each day your masterpiece.

  3. Drink deeply from the good books.

  4. Freedom from desire leads to inner peace (Lao-Tzu)

  5. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. I will get ready, and then, perhaps my chance will come.

  6. Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there (Abraham Lincoln).

  7. Help others.

  8. It is better to trust and be disappointed occasionally than to distrust and be miserable all the time.

  9. Almost anyone can stand adversity, but to test a person’s character, give them power (Abraham Lincoln). 

  10. Be more interested in your character, which is what you really are, than your reputation, which is what others perceive you to be.


John D Rockefeller Jr. initially struggled with shyness but later became an icon of philanthropy, ecology, art, and educational causes. During his early twentieth century lifetime, he gave more than a half-billion dollars in contributions to highly justified causes. In today’s dollars, they would amount to at least 10 billion dollars. He was an extremely conscientious donor who, by example, led the world as the largest philanthropic donor of his time. His reputation and beliefs became a prescription for success in both life and business. His “Beliefs” are as follows:



I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.


I believe that the law was made for man, and not man for the law; that government is a servant of the people and not their master.


I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living, but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.


I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business, or personal affairs.


I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.


I believe in the sacred Deus of a promise that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character--- not wealth or power or position—is of supreme worth.


I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.


I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God.


George Carlin was a standup comedian, social and political critic, philosopher, author, and Dean of the counter culture. He was considered one of the top 10 comedians in the United States and won or many awards, including the Mark Wayne Prize of American Humor. He was best known for his satire of American politics and culture. George was very articulate, outspoken, and profane. He is especially remembered and famous for his seven dirty words. I found him brilliant and profound, regardless of some of his profane language. Here is George Carlin’s  



  • Throw out nonsensical numbers. This includes age, weight, and height. Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her

  • Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches will pull you down.

  •  Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle.  “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s. 

  • Enjoy the simple things

  • Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

  • The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

  • Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge

  • Cherish your health: if it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

  • Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

  • Tell the people you love that you love them at every opportunity. AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. 


Angus S King, the former governor and senator of Maine, gave the following keynote address to the University of Maine’s graduation class of 1994. I found it to be very provocative and practical. I think you’ll like it


Governor Angus S. King Jr. Keynote Address to Univ. Of Maine Class of 1994

  • Take more chances with your future.

  • Don’t limit yourself.

  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.

  • Listen to yourself and don’t take your cues from others.

  • Learn to write an outline. Figure out how to say things in a logical way and go forward.

  • Be honest, even when it hurts.

  • Treat each job and task as if it’s the most important you’ve ever had.

  • Value each day and take advantage of what life gives you, and don’t waste a lot of time worrying.

  • Don’t look for happiness in places and things. Happiness is in your head.

  • Value friends and never let them down.

  • Believe in something.

  • Always round off the cents in your checkbook to the nearest dollar. It will save you aggravation and addition and subtraction.

  • Always have 10 dollars tucked away. The day will come when you will need it.


Zane Grey, initially a dentist turned profound author of Western adventure stories, was shy, athletic, but had as wild a life as his adventures and his stories. These adventure stories later became very popular books, movies, and TV series. He had a rough and ready attitude similar to President Theodore Roosevelt. It was the wildest West he could imagine, and he knew how to popularize it. I enjoyed his very real sense of adventure and his views on life.


ZANE GREY’S Recipe for Greatness

Recipe for greatness—“To bear up under loss; to fight the bitterness of defeat and the weakness of grief; to be a victor over anger; to smile when tears are close; to resist evil men and base instincts; to hate hate and to love love; to go on when it would seem good to die; to seek ever after the glory and the dream; to look up with unquenchable faith in something ever more about to be; that is what any man can do, and so be great.”


I have found Dr. Joseph Federman’s “Rules of Mental Health” to be commonsensical, simple, and accurate. They are easy to understand and follow. Here they are:



Have a hobby! Acquire pursuits that absorb your interest; sports and nature are best.

Develop a philosophy!. Adapt yourself to social and spiritual surroundings. 

Face your fears! Analyze them: daylight dismisses ghosts.

Share your thoughts! Cultivate companionship in thoughts and feelings. Confide, confess, and consult.

Balance fantasy with the fact! Dream but also do; wish but build and imagine, but face reality.

Beware of alluring escapes! Alcohol and opiates may prove faithless friends. 

Exercise! Walk, swim, golf----muscles need activity.

Trust in time! Be patient and hopeful. Time is a great therapist.



Christian D. Larson was a prolific writer, especially of the metaphysical many of his books remain in print even 100 years later after his original publication. His “Creed for Optimists” was one of his most outstanding pieces of work. It is brief but comprehensive and powerful.



  • Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

  • Talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

  • Make all your friends feel there is something in them.

  • Look at the sunny side of everything.

  • Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best.

  • Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. 

  • Forget the mistakes of the past, press on to the greater achievements of the future.

  • Give everyone a smile.

  • Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.

  • Be too big for worry and too noble for anger.

—Christian D. Larson

A dear friend and old boss, George Craig, sent me a letter many years ago. After completing graduate school, George not only was my first professional boss but became a very dear friend and mentor. He was one of the most astute and perspicacious persons I was so fortunate to have known. He knew I was accumulating various words of wisdom and said that he had also accumulated several different philosophies from various sources. Apparently, ‘Dear Abby’ and others had inspired him; George wanted to share his potpourri of things that assisted in developing his own personal philosophy and moral compass. Here they are: 



  • No one can make you unhappy, and you have free will and choices. 

  • The quickest and healthiest way to cure depression is to volunteer your hands and your heart. 

  • Over-prepare and then comfortably allow yourself to go with the flow.

  • Don’t protect those that you love from the pain that will heal them.

  • When you have a problem with your spouse, don’t complain to others because it will be at the expense of your relationship. Instead, the most important person to whom to discuss marital difficulties with is your spouse. The same advice goes with problems with your relatives and best friends.

  • The best advice for raising children is to prepare them so that when ripe, you can let them go.

  • Time heals most everything; give time, time.

  • You can’t change anybody but yourself.

  • If you want to do something different or eccentric, don’t wait until you are old and gray, do it now.

  • When frustrated and upset, take a break, take five deep breaths, and allow your mind to calm.

  • If you are at your wit's end, stop, have a good night’s sleep and start all over.

  • Whatever doesn’t kill you will definitely make you stronger.

  • Envy and rage are emotions that can destroy, avoid them.

  • Don’t criticize without working towards a solution, especially those involving controversial issues.

  • Regardless of whether a situation is good or bad, it will change!

  • All that truly matters in life is that you are happy and that you are loved. 

  • You are what you eat and drink; learn as much as you can about what enters your sacred body. 

  • Life is finite and linear; make every second count.

  • Don’t ever forget abuse and tolerate it; you may forgive, but don’t forget; history can repeat itself.

  • Your love and your character are not just shown through your words but how you devote your time, energy, and money.

  • Remember to save for retirement; start saving at least 5% of each and every paycheck.

  • Growing old is necessary and admirable; enjoy it, including all the speed bumps along the way.

  • Enjoy the beauty and splendor of Mother Nature, its fauna and flora, and its majestic surroundings.

  • Protect it, but have a realistic fear of the power and capriciousness of Mother Nature.

  • Be appreciative; if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we grab ours back.

  • Never audit life; instead, show up and make the most of it every day

  • No matter how you feel or what you think, get up, dress up, and show up.

  • Life might not be tied in a bow, but it’s the greatest gift you’ll ever receive


Finally, it is important to add the final next piece. There remain a large inventory of additional creeds I choose not to add because of length, redundancy, and overkill. I have chosen those above and below as my favorites. They are varied by the context and character of the author. They all represent a lifetime of thought, experiences, and insights. I hope you found them as helpful and illuminating as I did. 



The creed below was found on the internet. It came from a boy who had just witnessed his old and terminally ill dog being euthanized. After sitting patiently, he was asked, "Why are dogs’ lives shorter than human lives? His cogent, stoic, and startlingly mature heart-rending response was: "People are born so they can learn how to live a good life----you know---like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."



"If a dog was the teacher, you would learn the following things. He would:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them;

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride;

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy;

Take naps;

Stretch before rising;

Run, romp, and play daily;

Thrive on attention and let people teach you;

Avoid fighting when a simple growl will do;

On warm days, take some time to stop and lie on the grass;

On hot days, drink lots of water and relax under a shady tree;

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body;

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk;

Be loyal;

Never pretend to be something you're not;

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it;

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


And a few additional dog quotes:


“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.” —Will Rogers


“One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.”—Author Unknown


“My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am.”—Author Unknown


Likewise, there comes a time in one's life when you surround yourself with people that have the characteristics of a dog, focusing on the good, providing love, and following the Golden Rule.

If you find any of the above golden thoughts to fit your daily creed, pick them out and make them part of your daily routine!

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