Thought Catalog

18 (Real) Rules For Living

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1. Greatness only comes from great risks or great work.

Failing after taking a risk is nothing to regret doing. You should have pride in the fact that you were strong enough and believed in something enough to risk so much. It not working out is seldom more than just the reality of what is best for you in the long run. Likewise, hardly anything great will just fall into your lap. Waiting for an opportunity will most likely not yield for you many of them. You must seek.

2. All living things and beings deserve love, respect and reverence, even when you feel compelled to withhold it.

I mean all living things– animals, the earth, your enemies. Just as you are worthy, as are they. It can sometimes be tricky to not value ourselves as greater than another and then subsequently act on that, but it’s nothing that some mindfulness can’t fix.

3. You must be aware of your actions as they affect other people.

You do have the right to do as you please, until it affects somebody else. Because then it is no longer just your life that you are controlling. We are interconnected in ways that are invisible and striking once uncovered, and it’s crucial to remember that even the small, seemingly insignificant things we do to others can have a great impact on them. One of the greatest principles of being alive is learn to be kind to others.

4. Learning to apologize is good. Learning to apologize when an apology is due is what really matters.

To pretend that we are flawless and just ignore our mistakes will be debilitating and crippling, especially in relationships. However, apologizing only for the sake of doing so is not the same as apologizing when you have genuinely done wrong. There is something that really softens people when you admit that you are wrong: they release their defenses, and realize that you are, in some ways, holding up the white flag of truce.

5. One of the most important things you will do is learn to be alone with yourself… happily.

You are all that you have. People can be terrified of doing things alone, but it’s important to get over that hurdle because nothing is certain in life and nobody is bound to you but yourself. You may argue that family, spouses, friends are, but as has been proven time and time again, that just isn’t so.

6. The only thing you can be sure of in the future is change.

We really must move past our hangups with being attached to what is. It is a recipe for suffering. There are few things I can guarantee that will happen in your life other than the fact that things will change: rapidly, unexpectedly, beautifully, tragically and slowly. Sometimes bit by bit, sometimes all at once. There is no use in doing anything but embracing this.

7. Family is optional and not necessarily nuclear.

Sure you’re biologically related to some people, but really, the “family” that matters are the people you love and choose to surround yourself with everyday. By traditional definition, family is a group consisting of parents and children living together, but I would vouch to disagree with that. You need not have children to have a family. What you do need, however, is a group of people, regardless of how big or small, who love, support, nurture, cherish and care for one another unconditionally.

8. Nothing is real but right now.

The past is obsolete and the future is pending. You may attach yourself to these concepts, they are just figments of your imagination. It is a false comfort you get from them. Learn to be comforted and even astounded at what you have right now, and how beautiful it is.

9. You have not failed until you stop trying.

You are not a failure because things haven’t worked out yet. You are a failure when you decide you’re not going to try to work on them anymore. You can spend years and years resolving or working toward something, and the day that your work pays off, you have succeeded. Until then, you’re still working on it.

10. You need the yin and yang.

Nothing would be beautiful if you didn’t know the opposite. You wouldn’t know it was daytime if it never became night. You wouldn’t know what you have unless you did not at one point. Simply put, you would not enjoy life unless you didn’t enjoy it. Live each of these phases completely, they are equally important. They are the yin and yang of your existence, and if you ask me, the only thing worth doing is being present in your existence.

11. “An ounce of appearance is equal to a pound of substance.”

People are more dynamic than the concepts we use to categorize them by. What they appear to be externally, no matter how much we like to stereotype, says next to nothing about who they are as people.

12. Imperfect is an idea that only we have devised. Everything and everybody just is. We have just made up what is right and wrong about ourselves and others.

It’s only bad if you make it bad, you are only wrong when somebody tells you or you are otherwise led to believe so. Otherwise, you would carry on without considering it. The truth of the matter is that the extent at which people judge themselves and others is largely rooted in what they have been taught. Not necessarily what is true or isn’t.

13. If you want change, change.

Complaining will not change anything. Thinking that you want change won’t do it either. You have to be ready to ease out of your comfort zone a bit. You will live the same life and face the same problems and woes until you do something about it/them.

14. No one owes you anything.

Not your parents, not your lover, not those who have wronged you. Not the government, not life in general. Although we all deserve the best, it is not necessarily anybody else’s responsibility to ensure that it happens.

15. Long term purpose and short term goals.

I’ve spoken about this before, and I must reiterate, that we’re are always in an equilibrium between what we want now and what will be best for the long-term. You need to have a bigger vision, but know that the way to get there is through the little things that add up.

16. Happiness will largely depend on your ability to stay interested and engaged.

This obviously excludes cases such as mental illness. Happiness is not a perpetual state of sustaining joy. If that were the case, there would be nothing stimulating about joyousness. It is just always having something new to delight and fascinate yourself with and by.

17. It is okay to not be okay.

Resisting being okay is actually what will affect you more than what you are resisting will. Let yourself be who you are. Let yourself feel what you feel. Be okay with not being okay. Once you can accept even the unfortunate things your life becomes a succession of experiences rather than just a series of fortunate and unfortunate events.

18. Happy people are not the ones who have it all and do not suffer.

Happy people are not, and never will be, the ones who don’t face challenges or suffer or become depressed or have dealt with serious trauma in their lives. They are the ones who know how terrible things can be, so they appreciate every little thing for what it is. TC mark

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