We’re continuing on with our exercise called Life Lessons. I wanted to highlight those who make Good Enough Mother go, our contributors; they (along with you, the readers) have been such a big part of the site this year. Last week, we featured Ella Rucker, who’s providing immeasurable help and support to GEM. Today, it’s Will Jones’ turn. You know him as Good Enough Guy and for about a year now he’s meted his brand of out no-nonsense advice here. Translation: caring with a kick in the butt. So here are Will’s answers. We’d love to have you take part. if you’re game,  just let us know!

Are you happy at the moment?

Happy? Hmm. That’s a hard one. I’ve gone through and am going through a lot of changes right now and we men seldom do well with change. Lately, on any given day, I might be happy, miserable, uncomfortable, excited, anxious, worried, thankful, etc… hell, sometimes all at the same time. What I can say is I’m having a really great time being me, and for right now, that’s enough.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self  – what would it be?

I wouldn’t have listened anyway. At 16, even I couldn’t have told ME anything! Seriously though, I think I’d tell me to dream more and plan less. We didn’t have much growing up and I always worried that following my dreams would leave me hungry, so I set them aside and concentrated on learning to do something that would feed me and my family. I wouldn’t change my path, at least not very much, but I think I would like to have dreamed more… and bigger.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

This is HUGE. I learned that we build our whole lives out of the energy we produce from minute to minute, every minute of every day. Produce enough positive energy and you can build a ship to be the captain of, or bridge to anywhere or a rocket ship to the moon. Produce enough negative energy and you build your own prison cell, or an iceberg to sink yourself with or an early grave. BUT, you don’t just build these things in your mind; this energy can become tangible things. There are a million inventions that started out as ideas with positive energy behind them but there are millions more that were never invented because someone was too negative to try. The only difference in the world was the energy behind it. I’m still learning to change my thinking and I’m watching it change my life. Seriously…it’s huge.

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I became a professional writer this year (can you see me clapping for myself?) First I was a guy who liked to write, then I was a guy who wrote pretty well, then I was a writer, now I get paid to write, so I’m a professional writer. And this year, I have given myself until the first of September to finish my first novel (I promised my wife I’d have it done for her birthday), then I’ll shop it around to see if I get it published. If not, I’ll publish it myself. Either way, I WILL get it done this year!

What’s your secret to happiness?

My favorite quote in the world is from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. When Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I think a happy life is made up of a string of happy minutes that people take the time to notice. When life gets hard, I put my head down, do the work, push through, lick my wounds and don’t give it a second thought, but during those great minutes when the sun is shining, my wife is smiling, the kids are laughing and my heart is filled to the top, I try to take a second to realize just how good that time really is and be thankful for it.

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Part of my problem is that I was always too grounded. I’m a worry wart and tend to take the safest path so I don’t hurt the folks around me. I think the first time I really jumped without a net was last year when I quit a job that I hated. It felt GREAT! I think I’m just really starting to test my wings… I’ll worry about being grounded later.

What’s your biggest regret?

This may seem cliché but I don’t really have any. I could say my first marriage, but knowing how bad that marriage was is how I know how good this marriage is. I could say working at my last job for so long, but I met some fantastic people, gathered some great writing material, and provided very well for my family. I guess I am pretty pissed that I didn’t by Microsoft shares back when they were five bucks a piece, but hey, what can ya do?

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

I teach my kids to think. I teach them to keep an open mind and gather as much information as they can about something before they form an opinion. I teach them to not be afraid to disagree just because someone else feels differently, but not to be afraid to change their opinion if they get new or better information. It makes them a pain in the butt to argue with, but it also keeps them from being sheep.

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

I’m an over eater. Steak, burgers, hotdogs, pizza, Chinese, Italian, soul food. And I’m a country boy so beef, ham, venison, rabbit, squirrel, white beans, black beans, green beans spinach, mustard greens, corn, …any animal, any plant, any sweets; anything that doesn’t bite me first.  I’m fairly active, so I’m not very fat (yet), but if I don’t get it together, there’s definitely a muumuu in my future.

Aside from fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

I think I’m proud that I became the guy people call when things get bad. When I was growing up, our phone would ring in the middle of the night and it would be my aunt saying that her furnace was making a noise or her sink was leaking, or maybe our neighbor saying that he was across town and his car wouldn’t start or he’d locked his keys in it. My father would grumble, grab what ever he needed to solve the problem, and head out the door. I’d go as often as he’d let me, so I could learn what to do to fix it and what not to do to cause it. As I got older, those calls started to come in for my older brothers too. They would grumble like my father, but I could see that they were proud to be the ones that could go and make things better for someone. I went with them too. And now, I get those late night calls.  I grumble, gather my tool box, and get in my truck. Then after a minute, I smile and head out to try to make things better for someone.

When were you happiest?

From April 18, 1993 until February 12, 1994. My wife and I had our first date on April 18th. I was a Marine, she was in the Navy, and we met in Okinawa Japan. I’d never been in love before and every day we spent together on that island seemed like a gift. Oh, I had it bad!!! I’ve loved my whole life with her, but if I had to pick, I don’t think any time has ever made me happier than that first year when I had her all to myself. I used to tell her that if God never gave me another blessing, I’d still be the luckiest man in the world… and it’s still true.

What ten words best describe you?

Only ten? And I’m guessing no curse words, huh? Okay, let’s go with: Goofy, caring, loyal, humorous, helpful, hopeful, good-natured, passionate, analytical… and different.