It is okay to break these rules

One of my big interests over the time that I’ve been keeping this blog is how to live a better, more fulfilling life. I figure, if I get a lot of that figured out when I’m 24, the benefits will be greater than if I just let the wisdom trickle in over the course of my life. So I’ve been collecting proverbs and reading about happiness and lifestyle design, and the process has been fulfilling in its own right.

But though I might treat them with reverence, the proverbs and maxims I collect are more ground rules than they are Rules. That is, they suggest a path, and what’s important is not that they are followed to a T, but rather that you let them guide you gently. It’s okay to break the rules sometimes. A couple rules I’ve felt good about breaking recently:

  • Live in the moment. I am currently at an idyllic camp, where for a minimal amount of work I can play games much of the time, eat wonderful food, swim in a lake, and breathe in lovely ocean-infused and pine-cleansed air. But I’m also extremely excited about seeing my sweetheart in the near future, starting my graduate program, and moving to Boston in three short weeks. While I’m enjoying my present surroundings, I’m also full to brimming with anticipation, and I feel like that’s okay.
  • Don’t procrastinate on your personal goals. Shouldn’t I be reading more? Going running? Practicing my calling? I probably should be. But I was just on the go for months and months, having once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It’s okay to relax now and not push myself. It’s important to take breaks, too.

Putting a ground rule aside for a little while doesn’t invalidate it. I’m curious, though: what are some of the ground rules you try to live by?

One Reply to “It is okay to break these rules”

  1. My rules to live by, hmm.. I feel like I have many. I think I am one of those people (like you seem to be Alex!) who is always thinking about living their life and living in the world more conscientiously.. takes more effort to approach life this way it seems (opposed to people who have the attitude of “i am the way i am and i’m a mess but whatever. just deal with it” with no greater awareness of themselves or others, never seeking personal growth or looking deeper at themselves), but I do believe that my life and relationships and the way I experience the world is all the fuller and healthier for it.

    I like the two you mentioned and do actively try and live by them myself (and break them on occasion too ;).

    One for me is trying to be compassionate and understanding of others and the different circumstances, life experiences, and choices that vary greatly from my own. It’s so easy to make judgements and assumptions about people without even knopwing them or their story.. (I catch myself doing it all the time and have to pointedly remind myself to put myself in their shoes, or what I imagine their shoes might be).

    When I hear someone talk about a “bad” kid I have to ask what might have happened to that child (or with adults, that person) that could have attributed to them having such a hard time, to them not being able to do the right thing, communicate well, pull their lives together, be kind to others.

    I honestly believe that most people are truly trying to do the best they can in their lives, even if that doesn’t look very good from the outside, even if their best is a far cry from what your own expectation of “best” might be or of what you feel constitutes a sucessful life/relationship/person.

    My real struggle is in figuring out where to lay the accountablilty (in an awful lot of cases). Things beyond ones control can happen, affect your life dramatically, and change you in sometimes serious and negtive ways (create issues that are sort of beyond your control) BUT people should also be held responsible for their own actions and behaviors, living with integirty, and the consequences if you don’t.

    Sometimes the troubles of the past make it nearly impossible for that person to see past themselves or to be able to relate to the world around them, or to not hurt people (like the fact that many and most sexual abusers were sexual abuse victims themselves, often as children – of course this is no excuse but it’s hard not to feel for that person too).

    When someone’s a total jerk to me, I get pissed, I write them off as an asshole, but what I don’t do as automatically is wonder what’s happened in their lives that’s caused them to feel like the only way to get through the day is to be needlessly rude to me. It doesn’t make their behavior acceptable but it sure is important, I think, to try and be compassionate and accepting of others with different lifestyles/experiences/emotional stability.

    I feel like I kind of rambled from one thought to another there.. didn’t stay on topic very well, either, sorry if it’s at all confusing! Very train of thought.. There’s so much to think about on this particular subject for me, I get a lil carried away when I start talking about it 🙂

    As always, loooove your blog Alex. I was so excited to see a new post to read! Thank you.

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