Today my personal odometer rolls over to 79 years.

On this occasion for the past few years, I have reflected on what I have learned in my life. I tinker with the list a little each year.

Most of what I have learned, I learned from others.

Love lasts; stuff doesn’t.

Family is your greatest blessing.

Don't die with any “I love you’s” left unsaid.

Hug your friends often.

Prayer works. When you want friends to pray for you, ask them. When friends need prayer, pray for them, and tell them you are praying for them. Better yet, pray for them, aloud, then and there. Trust me on this, okay?

The older you get, the more offers of help you will get, whether it is taking your groceries to the car or extending a hand when you stand up from a soft sofa. Accept the offers.

If you want to write a book, write it. If you want to get rich, buy a lottery ticket. Your odds of getting rich are better with the lottery.

There is a time to lead and a time to follow; do both gracefully.

If you pursue a political career, keep your ego in check. Never think you’ve gotten smarter than the people who elected you.

Keep your temper.

Listen to people who disagree with you. You can learn a lot from them.

Pick your battles carefully; some things really aren’t worth fighting over.

Be careful when making enemies; one of them may be your boss some day.

Make lots of friends. Like chocolate chips, you can never have too many.

Life is too short to drink cheap Scotch.

Be on a first name basis whenever possible; it is a great equalizer.

Keep your cell phone charged, and enough gas in your car to respond to an emergency.

Start saving for retirement when you figure you are too young to do so. It’ll come sooner than you think.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness; neatness is next to impossible.

Wave at strangers when they drive past.

If someone is wearing a name tag, call them by name.

Use “sir” and “ma’am” a lot, and not just with folks who are higher than you in the pecking order. Those who hear it least will appreciate it most.

When traveling in a country whose language you don’t speak, learn how to say “please” and “thank you.”

You will spend more time with nurses than with doctors, and with hygienists than with dentists. Cultivate their friendship.

Be careful what you put in writing. Unlike the spoken word, there is no way to deny that you said it.

Be careful what you say when angry. The hurt lasts.

Do not raise your voice to your children unless they are in danger.

Don’t put anything on electronic media that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see; some day the whole world might see it.

A little genteel swearing is okay, but don’t take God’s name in vain, ever.

Be nice to people who are rude to you. You may change them; if not, you will certainly confuse them.

You will make mistakes in your life; most people will forgive you, and you should forgive yourself.

If you always wanted to learn something — painting, golf, playing the guitar — take a few lessons. You are bound to learn something, even if it is that you will never be a great artist, golfer, or rock star.

Always tell the truth; remembering what lies you tell to whom is too hard on the memory.

Tell your kids what life was like when you were a kid; when they can’t stand to hear it again, tell your grandkids, or your nieces and nephews. Give them a few things to laugh about when they remember you.

The one who dies with the most toys leaves a heck of a lot of work for his heirs.

Always do the right thing.

(S. L. Frisbie is retired. One other thing he has learned: his capacity to give advice vastly exceeds the interest of most people in receiving it.)