Don’t compare your life to others. You are walking different paths, and not all are paved.



When her odometer rolled over to 90, Regina Brett wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer — motto, “Our River Catches on Fire.”

The column dove into 45 lessons life had taught her. The first should have been avoid swimming in the Cuyahoga.

Here is a tossed salad of Brett’s lessons that resonate for me. Perhaps they will add tomato to your mixed greens, too.

To spice things up and introduce segments, I’ve added some vintage advertising, not all politically correct.

The first segment is brought to you by “Manhandler soup: How

you handle a hungry man.”

Life isn’t fair. When you win, celebrate. When you get bucked off the Shetland pony, climb back on and keep trotting forward.

Life is too short not to enjoy each small victory. If you help another person celebrate their victories, you double your pleasure.

Overcome doubt by keeping your foot on the accelerator and putting doubt in the rearview mirror.

You don’t have to win every argument on Facebook or at Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes it’s best to walk away, especially when the subject is the many uses of Spam.

This second segment is brought to you by “Kodak color film: Make color whatever you want it to be.”

Save for retirement, even if only a dollar a paycheck. You might live longer than George Burns.

Make peace with your past. You did the best you could.

Never turn down even the smallest chocolate.

The third segment is brought to you by “Pee Wee TV, the 4-inch Sony with the big heart.”

Don’t compare your life to others. You are walking different paths — and not all are paved.

Get rid of clutter pronto because another wave of junk will wash onto your shores soon.

The fourth segment is brought to you by “Coke, for more fun take more than one.”

Being happy is your choice. Don’t leave that up to your friends, your boss, the size of your house or the brand of your car.

Go after what you love in life even if you aren’t as rich as your neighbors.

Be eccentric now. Let the chips fly. If other people want to judge, remind them they are not getting paid judicial wages.

Small disaster? Exercise the 55 rule: If this won’t matter in five years, don’t worry about it for more than five minutes.

Big disaster? Take cover.

This fifth segment is brought to you by “Royal Typewriter: Good grades don’t grow on trees.”

Forgive everybody everything all the time. They have their own lemons to juggle.

Time heals most things — and it costs less than a hospital visit.

Change is the only constant, so scoop those pennies off the street.

The sixth segment is brought to you by “Coppertone: It gives you a better tan.”

Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

Believe in miracles. Get outside, smell the roses, avoid the thorns.

Growing old and having the chance for new experiences beats dying young.

The seventh segment is brought to you by “Squirt: for grownup tastes.”

Don’t worry about what others think of you.

Envy is a waste of time.

The best is yet to come so go on riding the Optimism Train.

The eighth and last segment is brought to you by “Banquet Frozen Dinner Thanksgiving: Ye Indians are hungry tonight.”

No matter how you feel, show up. Fake it until you make it.

Life is a gift. Sometimes it comes wrapped up as a Buick that “lights your fire.” Other times it comes as a Chevrolet Corvair “for the not so mechanically inclined.” No matter how life comes wrapped, get in and drive.

Jeff Petersen can be reached at or 509-526-8363.