I had a writing prompt earlier this month that has turned into a conversation piece between me and nearly everyone I have run into and has led to some fairly interesting reading as well.
“In your more dire situations, what life rules do you cling to in order to guide your behavior to the best of your capabilities?”
The conversations have been pretty interesting. Initially, I assumed that everyone had different guiding mentalities, as we see the expression of goodwill take many forms. Hell, I was fairly certain a lot of people I asked would have nothing to note here. To my surprise, it seemed that everyone attempted (with varying degrees of success/failure) to essentially live by the same rules.
1.) Take care of yourself: this is a multifaceted request that might also fall under self respect. For most of my friendship circle, this meant finding a time to fit exercise into their life and/or to feed themselves with nutrient dense foods most of the time, while still allowing for some bending of the rules when sanity calls for it. Outside of my normal fitness junkies, this was also a talking point, though the execution was a bit more relaxed, often in favor for taking care of their mindset, spirituality, human connections, mental health, etc etc. I think this was an important take away to list first because I think taking care of absolutely anyone else requires that in some way, you have ensured you are stable enough to do so. I think intuitively, we know what to do here: take care of your mind, take care of your heart, and take care of your body. Experience your life from a stance of self-care and really feel how much easier it is to make the right decision when this whole machine is working correctly.
2.) Be as nice as you can: this one is possibly harder than taking care of yourself, but just as important. Its very easy to be hateful and its very easy to indulge in harmful gossip for the sake of fun. Ive done it, you’ve done it, and everyone you have ever met has done it. Its easy to get sucked into. It breeds hyper criticism, which breeds self consciousness, which breeds hatefulness. Break the cycle, and start being nice to people for no reason and without returned expectations. One of the best cognitive experiments I have been asked to do is to respond to any question about others with “I love that friggin guy/girl.” This felt really dumb and dishonest at first, but ultimately your mind does start to trend towards the more lovable features that people have. If that’s a bit out of your comfort zone, just smile as people. Leave tips at restaurants. Open doors and practice common courtesy. Its the best way to get through this life.
3.) Be your own hero: Pretty quick, we find out that no one is coming to save us. The best part about this realization is that you get to actually save yourself. While its fairly passive to throw your hands up and blame the universe around us, this leaves everyone a bit powerless and unable to navigate tough situations. Taking responsibility for each thing that has happened in your life, be it your fault or not, will open a lot of leeway towards finding a way to win even the toughest situations. In uncontrollable events that you don’t seem to have any sway over, the power of insight is still yours. Probably one of the more powerful manifestations I have experienced and heard of this comes in the wake of tragic events. Perhaps you had no control over the situation, but your reaction and dedication into living an honorable life despite tragedy ensures that you aren’t destroyed by circumstances. Additionally, this sets a good example for others enduring the same tragedy. While not glamorous to say, very rarely does one person have a unique problem that they cannot come out ahead of.
4.) Love at least one person A WHOLE LOT. When you cant be courageous and honorable enough for yourself, be courageous and honorable enough for them.