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The Rules We Follow

Does it Matter if we Follow Them?


We all seem to have a plethora of rules we follow.  I guess we have some easy ones – Rules on working five days a week to pay the bills and save, rules on eating three meals a day, rules on doing housework every so often, laundry, coffee breaks, talking to friends and relatives, exercise, reading books, etc.  I didn’t even mention rules on how we engage others.


Unnoticed rules like these might just be the things that we do with regularity.


Life is so rich and complex, we will break these rules with little consequence.  For example,  you get sick, you call in sick at work.   You skip a meal.  You stay out late.  You turn your ringer off.  You say forget the lawn this weekend.  You go to a late night movie.  No big deal.


Unnoticed rules are like auto-pilot stuff.  The plane is on auto-pilot and the captain leaves the cockpit for a while and later returns.


Exceptions, especially the small exceptions, can really add a lot of instant gratification.  I think food is the easiest example that we can all relate to.  We might have a diet that we like, but every so often, we like to have some cookies.  Then maybe that can lead to a little binge.  Maybe you have a desire to improve your body, lose some weight at the same time.  Cookies here and there won’t effect it right?


How about going to work late?  You don’t feel like rushing, so you go in late, and wouldn’t you know it, it wasn’t a big deal.  You test it out further in time, and lateness still doesn’t seem to be a problem.  So now, because you can, you are late more often then you were before.


Ultimately, exceptions can lead you on a different path.  So what do you do, when you start moving on this different path fueled by the exceptions that you made?  That’s a tough question.


How about avoid that path in the first place?  Focus, goals settings, and really being mindful of the rules that you set to your life.  One thing that I love about Buddhism is that there are certain rules or vows or precepts.  I suppose if you want to label yourself a Buddhist, then you follow the Buddhist virtues and avoid the non-virtues.  You’ve got life rules right there in place ready to practice.  You simply follow them the best way that you can.  Easy!


For example – Let’s say you have a rule  to not harm other people (include yourself because you are a person too).  If you have this rule, then most likely you won’t even make an exception, and if you did, you had good reason and it was minor.  In my case,  Last night, I went out late and didn’t get my normal amount of sleep.  I am harming myself a tiny bit, however last night my attendance was appreciated by others at the gathering that took place, and that was good.


I think that other religions have some rules on life too.  So this is great news if you can fast track yourself by going with  a tradition you feel part of.  Check them all out if you have no attachments to any.


If you don’t,  sit down and write your own.  Title page – The Rules of My Life.  Then create the list.  With this, you can imagine a perfect world and write out the rules that people would follow in a perfect world. Then, live by them.  Is that crazy?  Is that really crazy?  Here’s a perfect world and these are the rules people follow.  You are one of these.  Actually, you are #1, I created the list on the rules that people follow in a perfect world, and live by them.


Who creates this world anyways?  There are people out there that will tell you that it is you – you made this world you are currently living in.  Many spiritually oriented people feel this way.


If you make goal setting a part of your life, and you really do want to accomplish something that will enhance you, and maybe others, the exceptions you make, should have little consequence, correct? Many people have something inside them called a SABOTEUR.  Have you heard this?  The saboteur is the voice in your head that wants you to move backwards instead of forward.  The saturate is really your stupid mind that wants to focus on negativity, so you just need to learn to tell the saboteur to be quiet.


What is your daily  focus?  My focus is to be (fill in the blank). For me, it’s to be a happy person and help other people.  There will be opportunities for taking advantage of the exceptions that will interfere with my values.  If you knowingly make an exception that will damage your values and de-evolve you, it would be a form of insanity.  Totally nuts.


In sum, you have the power to try to live your ideal life.  You can try.  Good produces more good. Goodness leads to happiness.  Set some rules or borrow some from any of the time tested ancient traditions.  Become aware of the negative aspect of your mind that wants you to be unhappy.  It gets so much easier to deal with this negative mind once you practice quieting it down.  Have some goals that can power your daily actions, and assess all of the exceptions that appear before you – do they fit with my plan, my life, or my values?   We all have this amazing super power…..the ability to say no.