Do you have rules you live by? I’m not sure if I do or not. There are things I do and practice consistently, but I don’t necessarily think of them as rules. The word “rule” feels too constrictive, don’t you think? But the other day I came across a post on Zen Habits, which talked about rules to live by and I found I agreed with many of them. Here are the ones that struck me most as well as some of my own.
Listen to people. This one is pretty obvious, but I actually used to be really bad at it. It recently dawned on me that whenever I was in a room with someone, my mind would always wonder to something else. I wasn’t completely there to give my full attention. If I was, my mind was always running on high speed, thinking in advance on what would be the appropriate answer when my friend asked for advice — because obviously they would ask for advice, right? Nope. I hate it when people don’t pay attention in conversation, so when I have a conversation with someone, I make sure I’m really listening and not just waiting for my turn to speak. Sounds basic, but I’d say 50% of people don’t do it. I believe listening also means being present, really engaging, and taking full advantage of every situation you’re in- whether it’s work-related or a conversation over dinner with a friend. Be here, not there.
Don’t let the computer be the last thing you see before bed. It’s simple, really. Turn off that stinkin’ computer at least an hour before you snooze. Not only will you get a better night’s sleep because your brain will begin to shut down earlier, but you can replace the time you would be wasting (there, I said it… wasting) on Pinterest and Twitter with spending quality time with your family, or reading a good book by candle light, or journaling, or meditating.
Do things differently. For a long time, I wanted to be exactly like everyone else. Too often we want to be somewhere else, do something else, be someone else than whoever we are right now. We want to do things other people have done and get things other people already have. But who you are is great, who you’re with is perfect, and what you’re doing is already amazing. For you.
Wear wool socks. They just make every day a little bit better in just about every way.
The less you get, the more you give back. Want little, and you are not poor. You can have a lot of money and possessions, but if you always want more, you are poorer than the guy who has little and wants nothing. You always have something to give, whether it be time, love, compassion, your attention, or superhero powers. So give it. Pay it forward.
Enjoy the little things. I could give you a complete list of things. Enjoy peaceful mornings. Blow bubbles. Stargaze. Catch fireflies. Have a bonfire with s’mores. Watch the sunrise. Buy lemonade from a kiddie stand. Eat corn on the cob. Go apple-picking. Sit on a porch swing. Nap in a hammock. Leave a nice note for a friend. Eat your favorite childhood meal. Attend a festival. Read a trashy novel. Walk barefoot. Take a road trip. Get caught in a summer rain storm. Play pick-up football. Enjoy a piece of chocolate cake. Remember what you’re thankful for. Simplicity.
Practice compassion. It creates loving, rewarding relationships. Compassion for yourself means forgiving yourself for past mistakes, treating yourself well (including eating well and exercising), and loving yourself as you are. You know you feel good when you do it. Do it more. Live your life in such a way that more and more people feel touched by your compassionate nature.
Live comfortably living uncomfortably. Confusing? Perhaps. People are driven by the fear of missing out, or the fear of change, or the fear of losing something. These are not good reasons to avoid things. Instead, be adventurous and experience things because they challenge you. We’re not meant to live comfortable lives. Where is the fun in that? Live deliberately.
Sorry there are a lot of feet in this post. What are some rules that you live by?