Adult Principles

I had, in the back of my head, an idea for a project I wished to undertake. 

The idea was to compile a list of traits that I (personally) felt were important to…

…Being a man (and a productive member of society at large)
…Being a husband (one that is loving, caring, and mindful of the needs of his wife)
…Being a father / grandfather (loving, nurturing, cognizant of the needs while instilling
                                            a sense of morals and values for his children / grandchildren

I had a couple of key “components” already listed down on paper that I had been adding to / overhauling as ideas came to mind.  My list included such items as Dignity, Understanding, Patience, Forgiveness, Honesty, and Faith.  These are the traits that I have found myself trying to live by, and traits I would want to pass down to my children and grandchildren. 

Then, just recently, I stumbled upon the work of someone I had never heard of before. John Perry Barlow.

According to Wikipedia (link provided above) John Perry Barlow is “an American poet and essayist, a retired Wyoming cattle rancher, and a cyberlibertarian political activist who has been associated with both the Democratic and Republican parties. He is also a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and a founding member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Since May 1998, he has been a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.”

While none of those notable accomplishments listed have any significant meaning or interest to me, or my life specifically, I was quite taken with something he wrote over thirty years ago.  Something I only just recently read myself.

As I understand it, Mr. Barlow - on the eve of his 30th birthday (Oct. 1977) - assembled a list of twenty-five “behavioral goals” that he hoped would help aid him in acquiring an adult sense of responsibility.  What he created that night came to be known as his “Principals of Adult Behavior”.

Despite their “age”, I found that his ideals on what constitutes “Adult Principals” so closely mirrors the ideals I myself was trying to establish, that I felt compelled to share. 

Adult Principle #1: Be patient. No matter what.
Adult Principle #2: Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
Adult Principle #3: Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
Adult Principle #4: Expand your sense of the possible.
Adult Principle #5: Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
Adult Principle #6: Don’t ask more of others than you can deliver yourself.
Adult Principle #7: Tolerate ambiguity.
Adult Principle #8: Laugh at yourself frequently.
Adult Principle #9: Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
Adult Principle #10: Try not to forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
Adult principle #11: Give up blood sports.
Adult principle #12: Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously, and never
                             endanger the life of another.
Adult principle #13: Never lie to anyone for any reason.
Adult principle #14: Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
Adult principle #15: Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
Adult principle #16: Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
Adult principle #17: Praise at least as often as you disparage.
Adult principle #18: Never let your errors pass without admission.
Adult principle #19: Become less suspicious of joy.
Adult principle #20: Understand humility.
Adult principle #21: Forgive.
Adult principle #22: Foster dignity.
Adult principle #23: Live memorably.
Adult principle #24: Love yourself.
Adult principle #25: Endure.

Mr. Barlow then went on to say (about his list)… “I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles.  However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult”.

Like Mr. Barlow – I too do not expect to achieve perfection – but I too will post this list publicly as a standard for MY conduct as an adult.


  1. Love this list! Thank you for posting it.

  2. Good list... although I had to Google "blood sports".

  3. Good stuff. This one is my stumbling block: Adult Principle #10: Try not to forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.

    Working on it though.

    I too was puzzled by blood sports. Google is now my next destination.


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