“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” – Charles M. Schulz

There are men my age who are just as successful as I am — but they worry less, work in a more relaxed way, and take time every day to laugh and play. When I’m with them, I take notes. And this is what I’ve been learning:

1. They are willing to listen.

I usually get the gist of things very quickly and then become impatient with having to hear anything more. This gives me the tendency to sometimes jump to conclusions or fire away half-cocked. A few extra moments spent making sure I have fully understood what was being said is an investment of time — I remind myself — that will give me big returns.

2. They don’t take themselves too seriously. If you take on the responsibility of being a marketing genius, you’ll start expecting yourself to solve all the marketing questions that arise. Better to think of yourself as a plodder — even if it’s not true. People will like you better for it, and your ideas will still have their way.

3. They take time to have fun.

Ten minutes here. Five minutes there. It’s amazing how a few short breaks can ease the tension. Since it’s not in my nature to be diverted, I force myself to. I schedule in two five- or 10-minute slots each day to shoot a rack of pool or knock off a crossword puzzle.

4. They know how to turn otherwise meaningless tasks into pleasant rituals.

A good example of this comes from an article I read this morning. The author said that to give her morning some quality, she developed a coffee ritual that is as elaborate and painstaking as the Japanese tea ritual. She measures off the coffee precisely. She puts in exactly the right amount of water. She presses all the buttons in the same way each time and takes a moment to read the indicators on the LED panel. She says that it is one of the most enjoyable 15 minutes of her day. I believe her.

What are you doing to keep your life in check? What do you do when things get out of hand?