7 Cardinal Rules for Life
I’ve appreciated the stuff that often is posted by the website at www.lifehack.org, like the 7 Cardinal Rules for Life that follow here. (What cardinals have to do with rules for life, I’m not sure.) Along with the Rules I share a choice theory response to each of them. (Of note: The Soul Shaper workshop dates for this summer have been set and are listed at the end of the blog.)
7 Cardinal Rules for Life
Rule #1 – Make peace with your past, so it doesn’t spoil your present. Your past does not define your future – your actions and beliefs do.
It would be hard to come up with a more choice theory statement than this one. I think the phrase “make peace with your past” is important. We’re not trying to run from the past, hide from it, cover it, or deny it. We come to desire our joy in the present and realize our need to see the past for whatever it is and, like it says, make peace with it. I like the statement’s emphasis on thinking and acting, too, which supports the idea of every behavior being a total behavior. It really is pretty amazing that we were created to have direct control over what we think and what we do.
Rule #2 – What others think of you is none of your business. It’s how much you value yourself and how important you think you are.
Choice theory emphasizes that the only person we can control is ourselves, but I like how Rule #2 is worded. It is such a debilitating condition to be worried about what others think of you. It is so freeing to let this particular worry go.
Rule #3 – Time heals almost everything, give time, time. Pain will be less hurting. Scars make us who we are; they explain our life and why we are the way we are. They challenge us and force us to be stronger.
I hesitate to write about #3. The topic of wounds, especially emotional and spiritual wounds, is a sacred space to me and deserves a special respect. That said, it is apparent to me that some people allow healing to take place and continue to want to make the best of life, while others seem to want to nurture the hurt and hold onto it.
Rule #4 – No one is the reason for your own happiness, except you yourself. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside.
The world of choice theory is a place of responsibility. A key, though, is that responsibility is something that dawns on a person, rather than it being a message that one person enforces on another. Responsibility functions best when it is like the sun coming up in a person’s life, providing light to see the world in a new light.
Rule #5 – Don’t compare your life with others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we would grab ours back as fast as we could.
Comparing our life to that of others traps us in thinking that our happiness depends on our circumstances being different. Or worse, that our happiness depends on our circumstances being better than someone else’s. Choice theory keeps bringing us back to our happiness coming from within, not from without.
Rule #6 – Stop thinking too much. It’s alright not to know the answers. Sometimes there is no answer, not going to be any answer, never has been an answer. That’s the answer! Just accept it, move on, NEXT!
I’ll have to think about this one.
Rule #7 – Smile, you don’t own all the problems in the world. A smile can brighten the darkest day and make life more beautiful. It is a potential curve to turn a life around and set everything straight.
A smile is a choice. Yes, sometimes we laugh as a reflex, but sometimes we just need to choose to smile. And in making that choice, in a small way, the day does get just a little bit better.
Which of the Life Hack Rules do you relate to? Did any of them get you thinking about choice theory ideas? Let me know.
Reminder – Middle School and High School teachers can share the Rules with students and have them respond to them and evaluate them. They can be a great springboard for talking about choice and responsibility. Tie a writing assignment to them. Discuss them in a life skills class.
The Soul Shaper workshop dates for this coming summer at PUC have been set.
Soul Shapers 1 – June 16-19
Soul Shapers 2 – June 23-26
If you have questions about the workshops get in touch with me at email@example.com.
Rule #2 is important to me and maybe even more to my youth students. I really feel and see how unfree they are trying to make everyone around them like them, just from what they think their classmates think…in social media and in the classroom and among friends. It also challenges me as a teacher to help them see more of their own real value, and their own ability to choose the life they really want. Not the one conducted by what they think everyone else would like them to choose.
I so agree with you in this area. I have personally wrestled with this burden all of my life. I do better as I ask God to take it from me, but it is a constant factor in my life. I can see where my parents passed this concern on to me and nurtured it when I was young, but is that the total story? I can remember as a young man, maybe 20 years old, how I resonated with a text in John the first time I really “saw” it. In John 5:44 Jesus is pointing out to the Pharisees, “How can you understand what I am saying when you gain your honor one from another, rather than from God?” It hit me how He was asking me that same question. I was so concerned about how others valued me — the horizontal connections — that I was oblivious to the value, indeed self-value, that comes from a vertical connection with Jesus. I was very much into competitive sports then, which intensely fueled this problem, even to the extent that my identity was tied to my performance on a playing field or a court. I like how you remind us how “unfree” we are when we are so focused on what others think of us. It is like we are placing chains and fetters on our wrists and ankles and locking them. So much of people’s anxiety, I think, can be traced back to this self-imposed burden. I am so thankful that you are aware of this burden and that you are trying to help your students be truly free. I want to encourage you!
Awesome, life changing. Thank you.
Glad we’re staying in touch through the blog.
I personally like “Rule #5 – Don’t compare your life with others.” because we spend allot of time being judgmental of others, yet we don’t know where they have been or what challenges they have seen. Always best to take care of the business in one’s own house before trying to clean someone else’s house.
I resonate with what you have said and with how you have said it. Thank you. It really feels to me that most of us don’t realize how much the ultra-competitive atmosphere in which we live and breathe in this country influences us. It’s not just about games and sporting events in which we might participate. A desire to compete seeps into our view of life and into our relationships with others, even with our spouses. Maybe especially with our spouses. To me, within this context, the word compare is almost synonymous with the word compete. A comparing spirit leads to envy and jealousy (a way of thinking), which then leads to competition (a way of acting). Anyway, sorry to drone on here. Your comment just got me to thinking.