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By Donnie Wahlberg

Daily reminders, for famous people, to reduce the risk of becoming an a–hole. Simply because they are famous.

I’m sure you’ve all heard horror stories of celebrity eccentricities. How could you not, when we live in a culture where the evening news has been replaced by celebrity news programs? Where social media and the Internet give us constant updates on celebrities’ every movement, thought, breath, twerk, fart, shower, selfie and, of course, temper tantrum. Or should I say tantrums, plural, because they seem to happen so often.

I’m not sure exactly what happens to some celebrities that causes them to get caught up in the trappings of fame. What makes them think that they are superheroes, simply because they get paid to play them on screen. I’m sure there are many factors that I’m not qualified to diagnose. I’ve certainly been guilty of a few goof-ups in the past myself. But there is a major difference between making poor choices, and becoming a complete a–hole.

Most famous people don’t arrive on the celebrity scene as divas. Yet, it seems, far too many famous people use their fame as an excuse to become just that. To those famous folks who think that a good voice, a lucky break or a bit more good looks than the average Joe, give you license to belittle others or carry on like a 5-year-old — I invite you to make yourself a list.

That’s right — a daily reminder list of simple things to always remember to do, even when your handlers, yes-men, entourage, flunkies, a– kissers, publicists and glam-teams encourage you not to waste your time doing them.

The following is my own personal list.

The day that I think I am too famous to perform any of these simple tasks, or use fame as an excuse to forget why I should do them, is the day I should cease being famous.

Be kind.
Be mindful.
Be considerate.
Be real.
Be grateful.
Say “thank you.”
Say “please.”
Say “excuse me.”
Say “I’m sorry.”
Remember where I come from.
Pick up after myself.
Pick up trash.
Take out the trash.
Don’t throw trash in anything but a trash bin.
Pick a penny up from the ground — I still believe it’s good luck.
Do the dishes.
Make the bed.
Unclog a toilet in my home.
Don’t make a mess of public toilets — you’d be surprised.
Walk my dog.
Train my dog.
Pet my dog.
Bag and dispose of my dog’s crap.
Give my dog the dignity of not being carried around in a handbag — though he may really enjoy that, so who am I to judge?
Hold a door for a stranger.
Help a stranger in distress.
Take a selfie with a stranger — though I may say no if I am with my children, mid-conversation or standing at a urinal.
Fly commercial.
Fly coach (wait, I have a lot of frequent flyer miles and I usually get most of my sleep on planes, so I may have to skip that one, so let me rephrase) …
Fly coach on “coach only” airlines such as Southwest, JetBlue or Spirit.
Carry my own luggage.
Carry my wife’s luggage.
Offer to help anyone struggling to carry his or her luggage.
Take the subway.
Eat at Subway.
Perform in a subway station.
Drive my kids to school.
Parent my children.
Teach my children.
Learn from my children.
Respect my children.
Not use my children as props, or talk-show fodder, to seem like I’m a great dude.
Laugh at myself.
Be humble.
Be gracious.
Be thankful.
Grab a coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Hit up a Taco Bell drive-thru.
Eat at Taco Bell — period.
Shop at Target.
Shop for bargains.
Grocery shop.
Return my shopping cart to the cart holder and not leave it in a grocery store parking lot.
Take my wife shopping at Jo-Ann Fabrics.
Shop for feminine hygiene products for the Mrs. when she is not feeling up to it herself.
Put my wife and children before work.
Show PDA with my wife.
Help an elderly person.
Respect an elderly person.
Trust an elderly person when they say they don’t need help (but keep an eye on them, just in case).
Accept that I’m no better than anybody.
Believe that I’m no better than anybody.
Tell the truth.
Admit that I am not always right (though I may maintain that I am never wrong).
Respect those who came before me.
Respect those who have helped me on my journey.
Remember that if not for the help of others, I’d probably be shoveling shit somewhere.
Remember that there are people proudly shoveling shit somewhere who may be offended by that — I’m sorry.
Respect my fans.
Honor my fans.
Give my very best to my fans.
Remember who it is that truly pays the bills: MY FANS!
Be a fan of others, myself.
Remember that all of the people saying nice things to me, could be hollering hurtful insults at me instead.
Act the same way with cameras on, as I do when the cameras are off.
Respect everyone else’s experiences.
Respect others as I hope to be respected.
Respect everyone else’s right to an opinion — as long as they do not harm other people or disrespect my family.
Accept that someone else’s truth may not match my own.
Respect people of all faiths, races, genders, sexual orientations and political preferences — not because it is politically correct, but because it is morally correct.
Remember that no matter how hard I work, and how smart I may think I am, my success has as much to do with luck, as any other factor (that goes for all famous people).

Performing any of these simple acts does not make me special. It simply makes me a human being. Just like everyone else.

Fame is a very fortunate blessing, no matter how challenging life in a fish bowl may be. Fame is a privilege. It is not a right.

Sure, it’s nice to get a good table at a restaurant — and, trust me, I’ve accepted my share of them — but it is not something that I should ever expect, demand or feel entitled to.

Fame is not something to complain about.

Fame problems, are not real life problems.

Struggling to pay the bills, and feed your kids, are real life problems.

My parents faced real life problems.
What an insult it would be to them, or to anyone else facing those challenges, for me to complain about taking pictures, being asked for an autograph or being gossiped about.

Obviously, I don’t actually keep a list on my refrigerator, or write it out on Post-it notes and scatter them around my home. But I do try to live by the spirit of the list.

My dad once told me, when I was an aspiring musician as a teenager:

”Son, there’s a term for awful behavior. It’s called being an a–hole. Don’t be one.”

Thanks, Dad. Doing my best.


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