In Almost Everything, Notes on Hope, Anne Lamott offers a funny take on a range of issues related to hope and the place it has in our lives. But hidden just beneath the humor can be found something else—pearls of wisdom. That’s why I’m adding Anne to my semi-regular series of writers who have, sometimes unknowingly, provided us with rules to live by.
I think of LaMott as a blue-collar philosopher, earthy and salty, but whose advice and wise counsel have something to offer people from all walks of life. Many of her stories talk to the rough patches that she, her family, and friends have been through, including bouts with cancer and alcoholism. But within these anecdotes are bursts of insight, like rays of sunshine breaking through on a cloudy day.
Lamott has a unique take on, and relationship with, God.
She writes that while we may not share her same beliefs in a creator, “when humans experience something as powerful as a forest or a rainbow, it is not crazy to assign its existence to a Greater Intelligence.” She has been blessed with the ability to find God in daily life and advises us that we also have that ability:
To begin experiencing God, pay attention to your experiences with nature and your connections with others, to anything that gives you direction, a second wind, a bit more energy.
Anne is 68 now and has lived a full life, including authoring over 20 books. She’s the kind of person you’d like to sit at a bar and have a beer with, though Anne herself gave up drinking decades ago. You may have noticed I’ve broken journalistic standards by calling her Anne now and then (as opposed to Lamott), and there’s a reason. Read this book, and you’ll feel like you’ve made a new personal friend.
What follows are 9 “rules to live” by I’ve pulled from Almost Everything, Notes on Hope. To help the narrative, I’ve added a few words in italics.
Anne Lamott’s 9 “Rules to Live By”
- I prefer bumper stickers, I really do. “If you lived in your heart, you’d be home now,” is all I need as a life philosophy.
- There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of lasting way. Peace of mind is an inside job, unrelated to fame, fortune, or whether your partner loves you. It’s all here, everything we seek and need, inside us.
- To forgive yourselves and others constantly is necessary. Not only is everyone screwed up, but everyone screws up.
- There’s no need to act your age. Your inside person does not have an age. It is all the ages you have ever been and the age you are at this very moment.
- Doing a three-minute meditation every day may change your life: It is the gateway drug to slowing down. Naps are nice, too.
- When you’re stuck or sad: Go do some anonymous things for lonely people, give a few bucks to every poor person you see, return phones calls. Get out of yourself and become a person for others.
- Every act of love highlights God in the world because love is not just an idea. Love is something alive, living, personal and true, the creating and nourishing power within life. It is patient, free to all, and it is medicine and food.
- Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
- Just try to do a little better today. That is the secret to life.