The 3 Rules For A Happy And Amazing Life
Show me a rule and I will show you how to break it. That was my unwritten motto for life when I was kid. I hated any rules just for the sake of hating rules because there just seemed to be so many of them. It seemed liked everywhere I went I encountered a new set of rules. All those rules just got in the way of having fun and living life on my terms. From the youngest age I can remember, rules were my battleground which made Bad To The Bone my anthem and defiance my creed.
Needless to say, being a natural rule breaker had it downside. In fact the only thing breaking rules for the sake of breaking rules did for me, was cause me a lot of pain. By the time I was 14 I had been in Juvenile detention centers and kicked out of entire school districts. The outlook for my future was grim and the path I would go down was clear.
I would like to say I was lucky, and the right people showed up at the right time in my life to help me learn how to follow the rules. I would be telling you the truth if I said that, but it wouldn’t be the whole story. The whole story is that the right people did show up at the right time, and while they did help me learn to the follow the rules, they also encouraged me to stay defiant. They taught me which rules were absolute, which rules could be bent, and which rules could be broken. It was kind of like learning to color inside the lines while also learning that sometimes, you can just modify the line itself.
Over the years I refined my opinion of rules and studied the base rule set that defines most peoples lives. I found that there is a root structure to rules just like there is a root structure for words, math and science. Once I recognized the root structure, it was easy to define the rules that I would live my life by. Little did I realize I would one day have to not only explain those rules, but be able to get agreement to them.
Rules And Parenthood
My son Bryce is 3 years old and he is so much like me it isn’t funny. He loves to copy everything I do and repeat everything I say, so I have to be careful to make sure he only sees and hears things that benefit him. An example of this has recently emerged with how he treats his grandmother. See, I like to joke around and teasing loved ones is part of that joking around. The people in my life understand this and they tease me just as much as I tease them. My son caught on to the teasing game really fast and loved that he could come up with all kinds of combination phrases to make people laugh. His favorite of course was to tell his grandmother that she is old in a myriad of ways, or find new and interesting ways of scaring her. Every time he did one or the other, everyone would laugh and a round of high fives would commence.
Something peculiar started to happen though. The more Bryce teased people, the less he would treat them with respect. He would even start to play like he was the one in charge and expected people to do as he said. When he was asked to stop he would argue and put up a fuss until I stepped in and ended the problem.
Right around the same time, I realized that I had failed in my job as a parent to be clear with Bryce about what the rules are. In fact we had never had a discussion about actual rules at all, and I knew better. When I met Amanda, one of the first things we did with each other was set ground rules. As our relationship blossomed, our ground rules evolved. When we decided to get married we sat down and discussed what marriage meant to each one of us and defined the rules of our marriage. We are coming up on our 3rd anniversary and are a very happy couple.
So I decided that it was time to sit Bryce down and discuss the rules with him. First Amanda and I had to agree on what Bryce’ rules should be. It didn’t take long before we realized that explaining a list of rules to our 3 year old son would be very likely become an exercise in futility. I mean seriously, what kid wants to sit still and have a bunch of rules dictated to them. Even if Bryce did sit still long enough to learn all the rules, it wasn’t like he would memorize them. So then we thought we would write them down. That would be a simple solution. Bryce already knows how to read so we would just have to help him with any words he doesn’t know yet.
The problem though is we still had a list of rules. Bryce would still ultimately have to memorize them and keep track of them. To us it seemed like a lot to expect of a 3 year old. I know adults that couldn’t handle that task, so is it really fair to ask a 3 year old to do it. I knew there had to be a better solution, and then I remembered that there is a root structure to rules. Learn the root structure and everything will fall into place. The problem was that even the root structure that I had come to understand was still too long, so I needed to simplify it.
The 3 Rules For A Happy And Amazing Life
It is important to note that there were two versions of the following three rules. In the first version, rules 1 and 2 pretty much said the same thing in slightly different ways. Because of this, it took Bryce a couple days to adjust but now he has it down pat. So without further ado here are the three rules.
- Listen to what you are told – This is probably one of the most important things you can ever learn in your life. Listen, I mean really listen. Listen to each person like there is nobody else in the room. Listen like you are truly interested, even if you don’t think you are. To listen completely is to seek understanding. To seeking true understanding of anyone is to truly value them. When people feel valued, they feel connected and they open up more. Do this one thing well and the quality of every relationship you have will increase exponentially.
- Do what you say – Following this rule will define you as a person. Be the kind of person who does the things you say you will do. Make it your mission in life to only make promises you can keep. If you tell someone you will be on time, be on time or even a bit early. If you make a bet, be sure you can pay the debt. If you borrow something, always return it. If you join a team, make sure you can fulfill your commitment to that team. When people know you as someone who always does what you say, they will strive to do the same and then everyone wins.
- Respect everyone and everything – I believe respect to be one of the most misunderstood words in the english language and for good reason. If you look it up in the dictionary you will find that it is defined as formal greeting, an acknowledgment, and a reference, amongst other things. For this rule I am defining respect as showing that you value the person or thing by treating them with the utmost kindness and care. This means that when they speak, you will look at them and listen, that you will treat them as an equal human being, and that you will let go of judgment. Contrary to popular belief, people should not have to give respect to get respect. In fact giving respect without expectation is the only authentic way to show respect.
I practice these rules with Bryce every day and am constantly pointing out examples so he can understand them more completely. It has made a big difference in his life and the more he practices them the happier he is.
Do you have simple rules for your life? If so what are they?