Today was beautiful in the Texas Hill Country. I repaired a birdbath for our flying friends coming in from the north for winter. Afterwards, I sat in our bench swing and thought about my grandfather.
Some of my favorite memories are sitting next to him on his front porch swing, as a young boy at his home in Abilene, Texas and as a man after he moved to Mernard, above the Hill Country.
Bassett Arthur was a kind gentleman, who as a Navy Seabee spent much of his time in the Philippines during World War II.
While I enjoyed listening to his historical adventures in the Philippines, at sea, and his training, the most impactful discussions involved some remarkable struggles and how they collectively shaped his philosophies of life.
“Grandpa, I’ve been wanting to ask you something, so do you mind if I ask you something personal?” I brought up one afternoon while we sat on lawn chairs in his back yard.
“Well, I’d be glad to,” he smiled. “What’s been on your mind?”
“You are always so relaxed, cheerful, and seem very happy and content,” I commented. “A lot of people nowadays seem so stressed and tied up in knots. What is your secret?”
Grandpa laughed and said a few things about how he enjoys simple things like working in his garden, reading, and “fiddling” with his tools.
“The best advice I could give anyone is not to compare yourself with anyone,” he grinned. “Your life is your life. The road you travel and the experiences you face are yours. Don’t measure your worth by what others have, or do, or where they live. Gauge yourself, your mistakes and successes based only on your own life, not theirs.”
“It took me awhile, but eventually I noticed that people seem to hold others up to a higher standard than they did for themselves,” he continued. “Some would put others down or intimidate to try to make themselves feel superior, but it really just boiled down to people didn’t set the high standards for themselves like they expected of others.”
“In everything you do, don’t do as others do,” Grandpa spoke. “Set your own standards for yourself. Don’t let anyone set them for you.”
“So, I didn’t compare what I was doing or saying with what others were,” he explained. “I just set up my own standards for myself and tried to set my personal standards higher and above what I expected from others.”
Just like the flavorsome fruits and vegetables from his garden, Grandpa Arthur continually seemed to nurture, grow and surround himself with positive people.
“Misery loves company, so get rid of the rot,” he would often say. “Weed out the bad. Seed in the good.”
Attitude Baby Boomers Experience Happiness Leadership Wisdom and Cleverness 1940s Baby Boomers Cleverness Family Good News Happiness Hill Country Jack Dennis Leadership Motivation Perspective Simple Texas Wisdom WWII
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.