When I write the word “rules”, I know not everyone thinks about it the same way. Some people think that rules put order in their life and others think they put limits on it. If you think rules are a source of stability in your life, you may want to skip the next part and go straight to discovering your own rules, but if you think, that rules are limiting in anyway, you should probably read the next section about motivation.
Rules were meant to bring us some confidence in life. People without rules live life as if they have a very short memory span, let’s say 10 minutes, so they cannot make sense of what has happened to them in the past and they cannot predict what might happen to them in the future. If you ask me, this is a scary place to be. Rules form a useful survival mechanism. We do not need to bang our heads against the wall over and over again in order to re-discover it hurts, right?
From external motivation to internal motivation
The problem with rules is that from an early age, they are external, coming mostly from our parents. Not every person shifts from external motivation to internal motivation and start following their own rules. From an early age, kids follow external rules that mom and dad create to help them survive in the “jungle of life”. It is the only way kids can form rules, mainly because they do not have enough life experience to establish patterns and draw conclusions from past events to future plans. But as they grow older, we need to gradually help them shift to having internal rules that will guide them. As I say to all the parents in my parenting workshops, I cannot be next to my kids all their life and remind them of the rules. They need to learn to take care of themselves.
Rules are strong beliefs in the way things should be. If Mom and Dad’s rule is “kids need to go to sleep at 8pm” and kids follow it because they fear their parents’ reaction if they do not, they might try to “steal” time before going to bed. However, kids who adopt the rule and make it their own make things easy, because there is never a conflict around it.
I have two kids who are a wonderful example for this. My eldest, who is 20 years old now, has never adopted the rule of going to sleep on time so she can function well the following day. Even today, when she can go to sleep whenever she wants, she still struggles with her desire to stay awake as long as possible. My son, on the other hand, realized from an early stage that his sleep was essential to his performance the day after and because he did not want to miss a day of his life (because everything was so exciting and fascinating) he went to sleep without us saying anything. The rule of getting enough sleep has been his from the age of 5.
In personal development, we can find a correlation between having personal (internal) rules of living and being confident and focused. People who have rules that they follow are considered mature, confident, focused, determined and even spiritual, being at peace with themselves and the rest of the world. If you have rules defining your place in the universe and you have a clear understanding of how you follow these rules, you may be considered a religious person. I always say I am a very religious person in this sense. I have rules and I follow them religiously.
Think of the concept of being confident. When you talk to someone and you think this person is confident, what does this person do that makes you feel/think/believe he or she is confident?
More than likely, they conduct themselves as if they have clear rules of behavior, they know how the world operates and they have nothing to prove to others, because they measure themselves internally.
When you see someone who is very successful at something, you can trust they have clear rules about how they got to that stage. Most Lotto winners go broke again, because they have no rules to handle their new situation and many overnight stars go nuts or disappear. No one becomes truly successful by accident.
This is why if you want to be happy, successful, creative, friendly, wealthy or anything else you want to be, you need to spend time with people who already posses that quality and learn from them. You learn from them what is the formula, what are the rules of being like them.
If you want to develop yourself and reach a state of peace, find your rules. This will also give you some serious insights into your parenting and how to pass on some useful rules to your kids.
How to make your list of rules
Just like many other chapters of the Make a list series, this activity of finding 100 rules you follow has more than one step:
- Find the rules you currently follow
- Check if these rules bring you stability, confidence, certainty and peace or doubt, fear, anger and discomfort
- Change the rules that are not good for you to empowering rules
- Develop additional rules you would like to adopt in order to be even more confident, successful, relaxed and happy
- Rules are not right or wrong, they just are
Be honest with yourself and dig out everything. The only question you should ask yourself is whether they give you what you need or not.
- Rules are strong beliefs you have
They are so you may think they are “set in stone”. Whenever you have a strong feeling about something, it usually means you have a rule about it, so write it down.
- Many rules are external
Ask yourself, “Is this my rule or was I given this rule without considering it?” You have the freedom to accept or reject any rule, no matter its origin.
- Different stages of your life require different rules
I have had rules for being single without kids and different rules for being married with kids. As long as your rules get you to where you want to go, changing them is a sign of development. Consider how applicable each rule is to your life now, because it may not serve you anymore. If it does not, change it to something that will.
- Rules are not relevant to all circumstances
Being very honest with your friends and family (or asking personal questions) can be considered rude in a more distant circle. Make your rules more specific if you need to.
- 6. Adopting your new rules is like any other change
At first, a new rule is just an idea that is supposed to benefit us somehow. If we experience it again and again, it becomes part of us and we do not need to make a conscious effort to live by it. Think about it as brushing your teeth. After experiencing it every morning and evening, you do not waste energy thinking about the proper way to do it every day. Repetition is the way to help you make your new rules part of your life.
- The time-consuming work on your rules is done when you list them
There is no need to re-discover your rules every time. Write them down, change them to suit your life and your new list will be there later for you. Look at it from time to time and fine tune it, but that will be easy.
Rules are limiting if they do not put order in your life and do not give you certainty and stability. Successful people are those who adopt good rules of success and stick to them. If you are looking for success in your life, in any area that is interesting for you, remember that your successful rules of living are the blueprint of that success.
Happy list making. I invite you to join me next week to make a list of “100 qualities of a good parent”.
As you can see from the logo of this blog, one of my top rules of living is “Happy parents raise happy kids”. I have been sharing my rules of living and parenting on hundreds of pages of this blog every day. If you think you have some rules of life that are successful and you would like to contribute, please write them in the comment box and share them with all the readers.
This post is part of the series Make a List:
- Make a list: List Making
- Make a list: About Myself
- Make a list: Friends and Friendships
- Make a list: My Lifetime
- Make a list: Things I am Happy about
- Make a list: Childhood Memories
- Make a list: Ways to say “I love you!”
- Make a list: What I like about me
- Make a list: Things to ask for my birthday
- Make a list: Improve My Life
- Make a list: Things to tell my parents
- Make a list: Beliefs about Money
- Make a list: Feelings I Want to Feel
- Make a list: If I Could Live Forever
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids
- Make a list: Beliefs about Kids cont.
- Make a list: Events that have shaped my life
- Make a list: Ways to be kind
- Make a list: Be More Productive
- Make a list: Mistakes (and what I can learn from them)
- Make a list: Expectations
- Make a list: Beliefs about Traveling
- Make a list: Rules I Follow
- Make a list: Good Parenting Qualities
- Make a list: Excuses
- Make a list: Quotes to live by
- Make a list: How to use my time better
- Make a list: If I were Santa Claus
- Make a list: If I had one year to live
- Make a list: Things that Make Me Happy
- Make a list: Movies I loved
- Make a List: My Fears
- Make a List: Find your Happy-ism
- Make a List: Inspiring People
- Make a List: Books that have changed my life
- Make a list: Inspiring Movies
- Make a List: Things to be Grateful for
- Make a List: Ronit’s Gratitude List
- Make a list: Life Lessons Learned
- Make a List: Self-Kindness
- Make a List: 100 Ways to Be Kind to Myself