being based on one woman's 60 years of experience

(This is actually gender neutral, but from the perspective of someone who has learned a lot from making both small and grievous mistakes.)

Above all, in social circumstances, be it in person or electronically, be polite and kind. From the smallest child to the elderly, to difficult family members, and the neighbors. Wave to the garbage man. Smile at babies.

Refrain from nasty words, spoken in haste. Apologize, and none of this asking for an apology. Your mother and your grandmother would be appalled. So would Emily Post. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Not true, words can hurt very deeply.

Learn to really listen without judgment or thinking of what you will say next.

Don't hold grudges; life is too fleeting. Forgive when possible. When forgiveness is not possible, put it on a back burner. Let it go when you're ready. I repeat, life is too fleeting.

I am tempted to write eat, drink, and smoke in moderation, however my best advice is DO NOT SMOKE. (Haven't you seen those anti-smoking commercials with people talking through their trach tubes or worse, kids with life-threatening upper respiratory disease because of exposure to parental second hand smoke?)

What you choose to eat and drink (soda, coffee, alcohol, whatever) has consequences. If you are intelligent enough to be reading this, you can look up the research on many reputable medical websites.

If you own a car, for the love of all things mechanical, know the basics of upkeep (either do them yourself or find a mechanic you can trust, or a combination of the two). For example, anyone with a modicum of common sense should know how to check the engine oil, transmission fluid, and the air pressure of the tires, as well as recognizing bad sounds that warn you of impending car trouble.

I'm not going to tell you what type of sense of humor you should have, but you should have one. Employ it often. Humor and laughter are best shared, although laughing alone is good too. I'm talking belly laughter, tears running down your face laughter.

Be grateful for small things.

Handshakes are important to me, although I've experienced people who don't like it (for cultural or personal reasons), people who crush your knuckles as if to prove something, as well as limp handshakers. Please don't use this as a gauge of character.

Be broad-minded. Be open to trying new things, then do them. As I stated earlier, life is too short; take a few leaps.

I won't comment on what you should wear or how you should choose your hair style. There are too many factors and I don't feel it's my business. I'm more inclined towards cleanliness and comfort and having a bit of fun with scarves and boots. I will say, when complimenting another person on their appearance, direct the compliment at how the person looks, not the article of clothing. Example: "You look great in that blue dress, really accentuates your eyes." Do not say, "Hey, sexy dress or nice cuff links."

Be encouraging. Honestly, this is not rocket science.

Keep up with local and world events, enough that you can have an informed opinion. Get your information from more than one source. Reputable sources.

If you can't donate money to charity or any one of the many natural disasters, donate your time and talents.

Buy a plant for yourself, then give it away to a neighbor. Know who your neighbors are and pick a few that you know you can rely on in times of trouble. Always return the favor.

Buy yourself another plant. While I'm on this topic, be good to yourself. Sometimes we are truly our own worst enemy.

Don't live beyond your means.

Read actual books, go to live concerts. If you are able, take a walk with Mother Nature, preferably a place with a river.

Don't litter. Don't expect other people to clean up your mess.

As far as cell phone useage, be aware of others around you. Don't be rude. Unless you are very important, like an ER doctor on call, please don't chat loudly while grocery shopping; turn your phone off in a place of worship, during funerals, at dinner, and when you are having a serious discussion in real life. There is nothing more annoying than someone taking a non-emergent cell phone call in the midst of a conversation or hearing obnoxious ringtones, as the person looks to see who is calling, then doesn't take it. Learn to press the mute button.

Be aware of boundaries, your own and others'. Respect them.

Know how to ask for help. Offer to help someone else, but don't be pushy about it.

We're all on a journey. Keep your chin up and your negativity down.

Play fair, whether it's a board game, cards, a computer game or a sport. I think everyone should know the basic rules of ice hockey, but that's just me. Root for the underdog. Even if the referee makes a bad call, respect the ref. Life is not always fair, but you can be.

Have some creative outlet. The possibilities are endless.

Grow a garden or have a few house plants.

Have more than one goal or one dream. Don't be afraid if on the way, you find different ones. Don't underestimate the importance of process over end product.

Wear your heart on your sleeve and keep one pocket full of hope.

Be generous.