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 Better Plan 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 way.
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 Better Plan workshop dates for this coming summer at PUC have been set.
The Better Plan 1 – June 25 – 28
The Better Plan 2 – July 9 – 12
If you have questions about the workshops get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* 7 Cardinal Rules for Life first appeared as a Better Plan post on January 25, 2014. It has proven to be a popular post and I wanted to share it with those of who may not have seen it yet. Remember that the Year At a Glance pages have a lot of choice theory articles that you can easily access at the touch of a link.
Jim! I have thought a lot about what is essentially your commentary re #3 (especially when I was in practice). I agree that some folks sort of nurture a wound, and it seemed to be that either a value (as in QWP) or some life lesson was still incomplete and needed evaluation. Pretty tough to shut down a comparing station (so to speak) so typically, it seemed a wise choice to go ahead, revisit the wounding and decide what there was in it for learning how to lead your life from that time forward. Post violation, some folks chose to work on alleviating that pain for others. It seemed always to me the wounding was in relationship with basic needs and to put it in history or memory meant examining the needs (eg divorce=connection, affiliation, love) and seeing whether that need was being met in the now. Being effective now seemed the best way to scar over the old wound.
I appreciate how you have explained this. Not ignoring the past, but somehow seeing it through the lens of now. I think this is one of Reality Therapy’s and Choice Theory’s most significant contributions. This view has less quackery and more hope, too.
It may be a small thing, but I noticed that you wrote “a” comparing station, rather than “the” comparing station. I don’t remember specifically identifying the complexity of having multiple comparing stations operating simultaneously. Yet, I can see where this might have to be the case. Is this true?