In life, go for a ‘B’


Growing up, we are taught to always go for an “A” because that’s the best you can achieve, right? Think about it. You want to get an A on your tests; buy things that are “Grade A” or rated A+. If your car breaks down, you call AAA. Even Fonzie on Happy Days celebrated a big moment by saying, “AAAY.” There is no question that an A is the way to go. Or is it? Since it’s January and we are hitting the reset button on our lives yet again, I would argue that if you want to have a happy life, you should strive for the often overlooked and underrated “Bs.” I’m not talking about a score on a test, my friends; I’m referring to an attitude toward life. I call them my top five Bs to success.
1) Be Healthy. About 16 months ago, my boss called me into his office to have a hard conversation. He told me he was concerned about my weight and my appearance on television. I’m a guy who has struggled with weight all my life; chubby kid, dropped it all in college and maintained a healthy weight for the 10 years after, then put it back on after some setbacks in my personal life. Yeah, there were times where I ate my feelings. Still, when you hit 50 and have a shelf full of awards with your name on them, you want to smack your boss in the face with a cheesecake for even suggesting you need to step up your game. Truth was he was right. I had let the weight get away from me, so after licking my wounds (instead of the cake batter bowl), I put myself on a steady exercise routine and started eating healthier.
Over the next year, I dropped 41 pounds and look and feel better. I’m still not where I want to be but at least I’m on the right road and know my destination, which isn’t the cemetery. A few people have asked me how I lost the weight and I share my one simple rule—don’t have bad food in the house. Most of us are too lazy to get off the couch and go buy Ben & Jerry’s at midnight, so if it’s not in the fridge you end up eating an orange instead. I also tell them to do it for you (not the boss) and if you don’t want to do it for you, then do it for the people who love you and want you around 10 years from now.
2) Be Forgiving. The quickest way to being a happier person is to forgive people. Carrying around anger is exhausting and eats away at your insides like Drano. Even if they don’t deserve it, forgive them. Period. Then move on with a smile. I saw a saying once that said, “Be nice to your enemies. It will drive them crazy.” I kind of like that. The truth is, forgiveness isn’t really for them; it’s for you and your soul.
3) Be Charitable. I don’t care how busy you are. Volunteer your time to help others. Do the walk for diabetes or the relay for life for cancer or help out at Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Trust me you’ll get more out of it than you give. You also may find a friend, spouse or young person who fulfills your life in unexpected ways. If you feel there’s a void, this is the way to fill it—volunteer.
4) Be Aggressive. I have met about a 100,000 people in my life and only one of them won the lottery. It’s true she was one of those state workers who cashed in on a couple hundred million. Lucky duck! The rest of us are regular folks who rise or fall based on decisions we make. Of all those I’ve met, the only ones who are successful are the ones who went after what they wanted. If you want a promotion at work, tell the boss you are getting that job and do all the extra work to make it happen. If the boss keeps passing you over, move on. If you want the girl/guy down the block to go out with you, clean yourself up, show them you aren’t afraid and ask. If they say “no thanks,” then be a good friend to them and who knows how the story ends. God helps those who help themselves. Last but not least:
5) Be Responsible. Too often, I hear and see people blaming their troubles on everyone but the person looking back in the mirror. Our grandparents would be ashamed of us for all the whining we do. Stop it. Take responsibility for every aspect of your life and pretty soon you’ll find yourself eating healthier, volunteering more, forgiving your enemies and achieving your dreams. I don’t pretend to have a blueprint for life. Lord knows mine is a work in progress. But when it comes to being happy and successful, I’ll take a “B” over an “A” any day of the week. Happy New Year.
John Gray is weekly columnist for the Troy Record and the Saratogian newspapers and news anchor at ABC 10 and FOX 23. He can be reached at


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