Life Lessons: Peter James

The British author Peter James shares his philosophies on life.

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Try every-thing in life once. It's been a maxim of mine. Socrates once said: "The unexamined life is not worth living," and I think he could have said, neither is the unexplored life. We all have regrets but I would prefer mine to be over things I had a go at and failed at, rather than never having had a go at all. When something goes wrong and you are feeling terrible about it, ask yourself: "In 1,000 years' time will this have mattered a hill of beans?"

Be nice to people. There is so much anger and hatred in the world. Every smile we give helps to counter that. Find something nice to say to everyone you meet. Pay them a compliment on how they look, or what they are wearing. It costs nothing to be pleasant, and I've learnt that if you pay someone a compliment they will never forget you. People might forget what you said to them, but they will never forget how you made t hem feel.

Ask questions. There is no more boring person than the one you sit next to at a dinner for three hours, who tells you all about themselves, but never bothers to ask you one single question. The most interesting people are those who are themselves interested in other people. Everyone has a story to tell.

And one thing I have truly learned, is that everyone you will ever meet has a story to tell that will amaze you, if you can prise it out of them. And, most importantly, in their hearts they will want

Pity the man who dies with all his music still within him. The most successful people in life are not necessarily the most talented but the most persistent. If you believe you have a unique ability, whether to write books, design buildings or race cars, heal people, run a marathon or whatever, persevere at it, no matter how many obstacles or how many negative people stand in your way.

Treat yourself. I think it is vital to have things to look forward to in life. These are what keep us going. Plan treats for days, weeks and months ahead. Always try to have something you are going to do in the near future that, whenever you think about it, puts a smile on your face.

As told to Helena Frith Powell