Rules That Shape Us

Society has rules to keep order. Rules for our kids and pets are there to keep them safe and help integrate them into society. But what about in our own private world? Yep, even there, we have rules, boundaries we put in place to define who we are to ourselves and the world. Even if we don’t have them hanging on our refrigerator, they’re there.

Here are the top ten rules I try to live by:

1) Pay attention to the reoccurring themes in your life. These are quiet lessons being whispered to us every day in the form of an overheard conversation, a book flipped open to the right page, a photo on a passing bus. Tiny messages that accumulate like snow flakes until they are big enough to get our attention.

2) Accept change. It is part of the natural cycle, the ebb and flow of life. Sorrow will follow joy, but joy will also follow sorrow. The only thing we can control is our reaction to change.

3) Don’t lose your inner child. Allow yourself to be silly, ride roller coasters, make snow angels, chase fireflies and invisible dragons, build sandcastles, play dress-up, spin until you fall to the ground and watch the clouds whirl above you. Of course, it helps if you have an actual child doing these things with you. Do everything you can to not take life or yourself quite so seriously.

4)Widen your view of the world. It is much more expansive, far- reaching and deeper than the space we occupy. There are so many cultures, philosophies and places to explore, experience and love and–so little time.

5)Remember how to breathe. As children we breathe deeply into our bellies. As adults we breath shallow into our chest. Be conscious of your breath, use it to fill your belly, calm your emotions, quiet your mind.

6) Live well. This is not as easy as it sounds. Letting yourself rest when needed, saying no when you are overwhelmed, exercising, fueling your body’s furnace with healthy foods, creating, meditating, worshiping, laughing, learning, connecting. There is so much to taking care of your mind, body and spirit but it’s worth the investment. Give yourself a chance to reach your full potential in life.

7) If you’re going to bother doing something don’t do it half way. Delve into it, immerse yourself in the whole experience. Don’t just taste the wine– learn how to swirl, close your eyes and separate the fruit from the oak from the earth. Life will be richer and full of color.

8)  Friendships are vital. It’s the space in between people where things happen. Pay attention to this space, this is love.

9) Hold on to hope. Hope is our greatest weapon against cause and effect, against knowing what the future can and will bring, and against ourselves when we feel like giving up and giving in.

10) Live free. Not free of responsibility or relationships, but free of fear, guilt, judgment and boundaries. Let yourself off the hook and off the leash.

What about you? What rules do you use to shape your life?

15 thoughts on “Rules That Shape Us

  1. Patricia

    Very nice words to live by. I can’t top your list, but I take every opportunity I can to sing along with my favorite songs even if it’s just in my head. At the grocery store, a song comes on I like, I tap my fingers on the shopping cart and bob my head with the rhythm or hum the words softly to myself. In my car, I sing my heart out (people look at me a little strangly at the traffic lights). Singing is like laughing, it releases endorphins and makes you feel less stressed.

    My rule – laugh loud and laugh often, even if it’s at yourself.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. August McLaughlin

    I love this post, Shannon, and your beautiful list. The rule I most abide by is probably: Must live authentically. This means following my heart and being true to myself and others…even when doing so is difficult (which it often is).

  3. Amber West

    I love that you included breathing. It’s amazing the sense of calm and clarity that comes with just taking the time to breath properly!

    Some of my rules:

    Make an effort to do no harm. Whether it’s by avoiding a juicy bit of gossip, letting small things go instead of blowing them up and hurting others feelings, or by how I treat my environment.

    Give (check out the #GoWithout campaign) whenever I can, even if I don’t have much.

    Share the positive. If you admire something about someone, tell them. If they make a difference in your life, let them know. Even if it seems like an uncomfortable thing to do, you never know what it might mean to them, or when you may no longer have a chance to do so.

    I’m sure I have a lot more…if I blog about this at some point, I’ll be sure to link back to your post! 🙂

  4. Emma Burcart

    That is a great list of rules and it is beautifully written. I love the part about seperating the flavors in the wine to enjoy them individually, even though I’m not a wine drinker. I also think looking for patterns in life is really smart and not something that most of us do. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Marcy Kennedy

    I love “Don’t lose your inner child.” 🙂

    One rule that I have is “Try to find one positive thing about everyone, even your enemies.” Very few people are 100% evil, and I think that by trying to find one positive thing about everyone I meet, it makes sure that I cut them a little slack. No one can know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes in another person’s life. While personal problems don’t excuse mean or bad behavior, it sometimes does help explain it. Plus, having just one person who sees something good in you can sometimes be what it takes to motivate you to change.

  6. Fabio Bueno

    This is so inspiring, Shannon! I need to follow some of these rules, especially accepting change.
    One of my rules is similar to Marcy’s. Mine is more believing most people has good intentions.
    I loved “It’s the space in between people where things happen.” Just beautiful, and so true.

  7. Debra Kristi

    All very excellent things to remember! Great rules. I especially love the part about remembering your inner child. Very important. And yes, I think people under estimate how much our breathing can affect us. Thank you for this post.

  8. Julie Hedlund

    Fantastic list Shannon, and perfect timing! I love the one about widening your view of the world. Even taking a walk after being in front of the computer for several hours can make a huge difference!

  9. karenfrommentor

    Love your rules. Shannon. I’ll expand on your wine theme:

    Eat mindfully. Appreciating the smell, texture, taste of your food helps you slow down while eating. Food at its core is meant to be a sensual experience as well as a nourishing one.

    Great post.



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