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Monday, 8 June 2015

My Rules for Life

I sat down recently and thought to myself "What are my absolutes when it comes to life?" In a world where literally everything will be contradicted by someone else who shares a different belief, is there anything I can consider to be the undisputed truth? Of course, the answer is no. The closest I can come is to come up with things that I personally have held to be 100% true. I came up with three rules, and in all the interactions, observations and experiences I've ever had, nothing has contradicted them yet. For me, these are my rules in life.


  1. Understand people, understand the world. If you truly understand why a person thinks, behaves, says, believes and does what they do, living in their world becomes much easier in many different ways.
  2. You can't change a person's behaviour unless they invite you to do so. If you attempt to change a person's behaviour without their accepting your position of authority, this attempt will be met with at best apathy and at worst resentment. You can however change your own behaviour, which will affect the world around you anyway.
  3. There are no bad people, only bad things. If people do bad things, it will be because...
    A) They've justified their actions to themselves as being appropriate (this covers everyone from sociopaths to terrorists)
    B) They're inadvertently dealing with the stress of an unresolved issue, whether long-term (losing their job, being in debt, relative dying) or immediate (being yelled at, looming deadline or just having a bad day).

46 comments:

  1. Those are some profound truths.
    As for bad people, you covered why they do bad things well. They either think it's right or they are responding emotionally.

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    1. Or they sometimes even know deep down it's wrong, but convince themselves it'll be fine.

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  2. If those are your rules, you've got the important things covered. Everything we encounter in our day to day existence is people-driven and the history of our world is just a string of biographies. Love people and you'll always get it right.

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    1. Totally. Love the biographies quote, did you make that up?

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    2. I modified...but I don't know who said it originally.

      The original is: "There is no history, only biography." I wrote a history timeline workbook and I use that in the front, too.

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  3. Yeah bad people usually have things engrained into them and they believe they are in the right. But there are some that have brain imbalances that can't distinguish between right and wrong, so they say.

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  4. These rules are so true. Mr. Rodgers once said, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."

    there is more good, and more helpers out there then bad things.

    It's just that the bad things tend to stay in our minds a little longer, then the good.

    Being a teacher I think often times about how to engage the students that are not engaged. I should sometimes stop and think about the majority that are engaged.

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    1. Oh yeah, we definitely focus on the bad :P Maybe it's a biological thing - our bodies recognise that this is something we need to change.

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  5. The one about there being no bad people kinda surprised me. I guess you are saying that everyone is good from their own point of view, or their own vantage point.

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  6. I'll have to think about my truths/absolutes sometime and document them. I don't think people are born bad. I think things happen that make them that way, but I do think there are bad people out there.

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    1. Fair enough. I'd love to read your rules and others' as well.

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  7. All of these are very wise, and true, and #3 is something that we bring into our writing. There is no such thing as a true villain who wants to be bad just for the sake of being bad. They all have a sense of humanity, some redeeming qualities. And exploring that in writing really adds depth to the character and I think improves the story.

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    1. I know what you mean. I played a character in long-form improv once who was concerned only with money and power. It was fun to play, but then I added the idea that this character's father was the same kind of person and he had a desperate need for his dad's approval and suddenly the character became twice as interesting.

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  8. Those rules make sense. One thing I try to remember is that all people are dealing with some kind of problems or troubles in their lives. Being kind as often as possible is the best way to go.

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    1. It's also why we should take first impressions with a grain of salt.

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  9. I agree with some of this. It does help to stop and think about why people do things before getting upset.

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    1. It's helped me out a lot when it comes to dealing with conflict.

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  10. I agree with some of this. It does help to stop and think about why people do things before getting upset.

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  11. Good rules of life Michael.... and you've given me an idea.

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  12. Those are pretty perceptive Rules of Life, Michael! And I love that quotation from Bertrand Russell.

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    1. It's been proven right on many occasions.

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  13. I like your rules. I think my only rule is that cruelty is always wrong.

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    1. And I guess the best thing about that rule is it can be as broad or specific as you want.

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  14. No three is sooooo right it hurts

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    1. Hahaha I'm glad and sorry at the same time ;)

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  15. I believe that people do what they believe is necessary or right. That includes the healthiest among us and the sickest. Decades ago, I was married to an alcoholic, and at the time I was convinced that he was drinking just to make me miserable...until I realized that no one gets up in the morning, looks at himself in the mirror and says, "Today I'm going to be the worst person I can be and ruin my life. I'm going to lose my wife, my child, my job, my house, and the respect of everyone who knows me." Right or wrong, he was just getting through the day, the best way he knew how. My outlook about everything changed when I realized that it's not all about me. People act out of their own deeply personal beliefs or needs, and, like you, I believe that bad acts are the result of those beliefs and needs gone terribly awry.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. I bet it became a lot easier to deal with and remove yourself from after that.

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  16. Interesting post and people do things for various reason. #1 is true change starts within and the person has to want to change before you can help.

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    1. That's probably the one I'm most sure of :)

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  17. Well connected truths that you live by Michael, I too have very similar philosophies in how I live my life. However, there is only one I disagree with and that is some people are just bad - knowingly... they know they are being bad and get pleasure out of it. They do not care if it is appropriate or not as long as they are satisfied. It is a hard truth I learnt...

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    1. Welcome to the blog! I'm sorry to hear that. So far I haven't come across anyone who doesn't think they're in the right. I kind of hope I never do.

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  18. #2 is absolutely true and you laid it out in a really wise way. I think we have all gone through times where we hoped that someone would just change to be who we want them to be. But you're right, unless it's on their own volition- they're not going to do it.

    Good read!

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad some of it rang true :)

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  19. I think number 3 is true of everyone except sadists, who do bad things because they enjoy it. Have you ever thought of interviewing someone who works in the S&M business? There must be a few dominatrices in Adelaide!

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    1. There probably is, but I've never looked into it. Might be a good thing to bring my New Experience Challenge back for...

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  20. I try to follow the rule Live and Let Live. If it isn't hurting me, or anyone else, I say let them live life how they choose.

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    1. Yeah I like that. That's something that's sorely missed in the world.

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  21. I gave you the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Visit my blog house if you want to accept it.

    Love,
    Janie

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  22. I've found these rules to definitely be true!

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