10 Commitments for Personal and Social Success

Over the past few weeks, I have been working on repairing my old web projects and rediscovering the successful work I did in the past. Everything I was working on had been on a Lunarpages shared web hosting server and then, one day, they all just disappeared…without a trace. I was hacked…severely. My files were riddled with base64 malware, and one by one my web projects died.

I spent the last week learning about the problem and discovering solutions. Once I figured out how to clean and restore all of my work, it was time to decide the best way to move forward in an efficient way. I chose to begin here. With my blog, which you are reading now. At this point, I am confident that I’ve broken the cycle of neglect and have set goals and am developing a plan to repair and restore the web properties that had been so successful in the past.

So, now; here is my first post, in a born-again blog. The words aren’t flowing through my fingers very well yet, and I don’t have a direction for this piece to go. I do know, however, that I would like to express some of what I’ve been reading over the past two years about the neurology of feelings.


When your heart is full of anger, and your creativity has fallen into neglect, it can spread to others like the flu. On the other hand, having a secure base offers comfort, stability and can help to free your positive, creative energy. Anxiety causes a preoccupation with failure and the fear of doing poorly, making mistakes, being rejected, abandoned, and can prevent someone from taking the kinds of risks that are necessary to accomplish important goals.

At some point in the past four years, I lost the sense of engagement and satisfaction that drove me to learn about Internet technology. I was no longer fully present and in sync with the work I was doing. When I was engaged, it was easy to see what these projects needed. I could enter into a feeling of oneness with the work I was creating, and engaging with my different audiences came naturally.

In spite of any intellectual potential I may have had, I was falling into depression and creative complacency. In the same way that my websites were suffering from malware, my head and heart were suffering from work anxiety, uncertainty about the future, and social malaise. Relationships became unsatisfying and going into work each morning was terrifying.

Today I have more than a few stories about how this cycle of neglect perpetuated, and clear examples of the consequences. I can’t tell these stories right now as there are still plotlines that are unresolved and involve relationships that are still unreconciled. Rather than lead with the past, my intention is to look forward to the future. To make commitments that will guide good intentions, develop focus, and allow me to see better the direction I am going in.

The 10 Commitments

  1. Define Core Values
    When floundering in a flotsam of despair, it can be hard to orientate yourself and chose which direction to go. Truly, finding a singular purpose and pursuing it is a major step forward for living a successful life. Being deliberate about why we do the things we do offers simplicity and confidence. Decisions are easier to make because we already know which direction we are going in.
  2. Don’t Get Offended
    Open-minded self-confidence is a social sticky trap for attracting good people. These personality features rely on someone having a think skin and makes it difficult for someone to rattle you and compromise your core stability.
  3. Seek Biological Allies
    Our most meaningful relationships are not always our most positive ones. My favorite artistic example of this is in a Modest Mouse lyric that says “…and I’m lonesome when you’re around, and I’m never lonesome when I’m by myself.” Loneliness has little to do with how many friends and relations that one has and is more closely related to the quality of those relationships. Positivity in our relationships correlates to greater biological resilience, immunity to infection, and greater self-esteem.
  4. Listen Actively, Especially During Disagreements
    Listening is the number one tool for understanding, and being the type of person others want to be around. The ability to understand and navigate different points of view is a paramount skill to have for maintaining positive relationships and preserving a sense of self in each person. If you disagree about something, you may never be able to change their mind now or in the future. Show people that you understand them and respect their right to an opinion.
  5. Share Feelings When it is Appropriate
    This one gets me in more trouble than any of the others. It is still one of the most important aptitudes for social success. To personify my brain, I consider that my amygdala and prefrontal cortex as coworkers, each with something equal and opposite to prove. Many times the emotional limbic side will try and handle the decision-making that might be better left to the prefrontal “high road.” (These ideas came from reading Daniel Goleman, which I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the neuroscience behind human personality) The skill comes in the ability to share your feelings without dumping your troubles on someone.
  6. Embrace Change
    Fear of change can be paralyzing. This fear paralysis can cause you to be risk-averse to the point of staying in a bad situation, instead of actively trying to improve a situation or emotional environment. Change is always just around the corner and being always prepared means having a plan of action should sudden changes occur.
  7. Make Kindness a Priority
    If someone has had first-hand experience with abuse, pain, neglect, or any such litany of negative experiences, it is easier to reflect that back to others. Being mindful of yourself, and the feelings of others is empowering, addictive, and can counteract some of the social predation that comes from having anger in your heart. Actively seeking out opportunities to care about people that we are close to makes these opportunities easier to spot, and subsequently act on. The better a person becomes at expressing kindness, the more kindness they will inevitably get in return.
  8. Be a Model of Responsibility
    Own your mistakes and be prepared to protect and preserve the things that are important. Be quick to recognize and correct your mistakes. Approach adversity from a position of strength and accountability, rather than shame and blame.
  9. Let Go of Grudges
    Holding grudges creates a knee-jerk stress response that hinders the ability to work and communicate with people. Anger or rage that you associate with someone can wreak havoc on your mind and disrupt the sense of flow that we need to pursue the important goals and other drivers of personal success. This type of stress can also lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. Letting go of anger at all costs is both emotionally liberating and can have a real effect on biological health.
  10. Foster Gratitude
    Every day brings something to be thankful for. Developing a gratitude awareness makes it easier to recognize the things that we have and what to be thankful for. Once you have recognized what you are thankful for, stop and think about that feeling. Where do you feel gratitude? In your chest? In your head? Actively seek out the sensation of gratitude and look to understand the places in your body, physical and emotional, that these feelings come from. Finally, learn how to express that feeling to others; letting them know how much they are appreciated, loved, and how important they are to you and the people who love them.

After proofreading this post, I realize that it has a lot of pseudo-advice and not a lot of actual solutions. This is okay, though because it is more for me than for you. As I continue to recover and redevelop my old web properties, I will be making a lot of guesses about the right way to go about building them and adding content. If you have any comments or advice for me, please don’t hesitate to share them. I am only as good as the people I surround myself with, so; if we are friends I will always accept your positive input.

  • Definitely a good aspirational list Rick. I think the only thing I would add is something along the lines of giving yourself permission to fail and forgiving yourself when you do.In other words, don’t let any small setbacks derail you from your goals because you can do it, but it won’t be easy and as you said with embrace change, things often won’t go as planned and old habits like to creep in and when they do, it is easy to get into that pattern of dwelling on our mistakes instead of our successes. Good luck! I believe in you. =)

  • Mike Vallano

    This post resonated a lot with me, and I appreciate you sharing as I know it’s not an easy thing to do.

    The one thing I’d add is: Remember that you’re not alone.

    Most everyone struggles with these things at some point or another. That’s easy to forget with the curated positive updates posted online across everyone’s social media accounts.

    I’m glad to hear you’re getting your sites (and your shit) back in order. Fuckin-A.