We all live by a set of rules. I’m not talking about the rules of the road, or rules we need to follow to keep life in the world functioning. Obviously, we need rules and policies to keep life functioning.
Without these rules navigating life in society would be like driving in midtown Manhattan during peak tourist season after a blackout knocked out all the traffic lights.
But there’s another set of rules that you can easily discard. These are the rules you live by every day.
You have a lot of rules. You may not even know about all (or most) of them.
You have rules for what certain words mean. Words such as success, failure, effort, lazy, permission, play, adventure, well-behaved, compliant, competent.
You have rules about what it means to be an artist, a writer, a creative, a poet, a good mom, a good dad, a good child or sibling.
You have rules for what is appropriate language to use in the work place, at the dinner table, on the tennis court or basketball courts, at a funeral, and on the beach.
You have rules about how to be and what parts of yourself to reveal in different groups of people: your friends, your family, your co-workers, strangers.
What is the time frame in which you should respond to emails? What time is too early or late to call someone? What is “reasonable” in any situation? You have rules for all of these situations and more.
If you go through your day, you will find that you live according to hundreds of little rules you create for yourself.
Your rules shape your experience.
They determine whether you speak up or stay silent. They impact whether you feel annoyed by or pleased with others actions.
Next time you notice a conflict with someone else or feel resentment toward them, check in: are they violating one of your rules? They may have a different rule for that situation.
If your daily life isn’t how you want it to be, it helps to examine your rules.
Where did your rules come from?
Whose rules are they?
Which rules are serving you?
Which are suffocating you?
Some rules are necessary. Some we can’t change. Many rules are not required and are just getting in the way.
You can’t do anything about red lights and stop signs.
But the rules that you created, or that you inherited by default, are yours to break.
First, you need to know what they are.
the rules you follow
will shape your experience
choose them carefully