The Rules We Follow

We all have our little rules, and we’re wasting too much energy on them.

Rules. They’re everywhere. Do this. Don’t do that. You can do this sometimes. Other times you can’t.

Don’t get me wrong. Rules are important. But rules are not laws. Laws keep society as a whole on the straight and narrow. If you commit a crime, you are going to be punished and you deserve the ramifications of your actions.

Let’s focus on the rules we have accepted into our lives. If you sit down and think about it, you probably have a list of rules you have and live by every day. You follow these rules at all times either consciously or subconsciously.

These rules pose a problem, though. We spend a lot of energy on them.

A rule I live by that immediately comes to mind is that I always need to be on time. It’s an absolute must. This means that anyone who may be with me must be on time, too. Ironically, many of the closest people in my life do not feel the same way. I think this is God’s way of messing with me a little bit. Or maybe he’s trying to teach me to be patient. His strategy hasn’t worked. Not yet, anyway.

Now, maybe you can relate to my example or maybe you can’t, but I am sure your rules have a similar effect on you. The problem is that the reason we most often get angry are in instances when people break these rules that we have essentially just made up.

Think about the last time you were angry. What caused it? Was it because somebody broke a “rule” of yours? I would almost bet that it was. It might have been a smaller rule or one your big rules but somebody broke it and it pissed you off.

Not too long ago, I saw an article in the New York Times that talked about all the distractions we have these days. The article says that anytime we are distracted it takes us about 25 minutes to regain focus on whatever it was we were distracted from. This is why social media is destroying our lives but that’s another story for another day.

Let’s expand on that idea and say that someone distracts you and then goes and breaks one of your rules. Naturally, you get angry. How much longer then will it take you to regain focus. All you will be thinking about is that stupid little rule-breaker. Any chance of productivity is gone.

Think about all the energy we waste on people breaking our rules and how it adds up over time. I get angry too much and it’s usually over inconsequential things. If you get angry once a day or a few times a week, it has to make an impact. It would be much healthier to spend time setting goals and planning a course of conduct to accomplish those goals rather than being a punctuality Nazi. Plus, I’d be a lot more pleasant to be around.

Well, the problem has been identified so what can be done about it? We have to look at our lives in a different way. Focus on the macro rather than the micro. I mean, is it really a big deal if somebody is late? The answer is no. But what if that person is making ME late? Isn’t that a big deal? Again, no.

Once we begin focusing on the big picture, the little daily speed bumps we run across aren’t that big of a deal. Zero in on your purpose and I guarantee life will become simpler and you’ll be able to breathe a little easier.

We all have a higher purpose. Focus on that purpose and the path leading you to it.

Posted by

A lucky man. Also a lawyer. Classic oxymoron.

2 thoughts on “The Rules We Follow

  1. This was really thoughtful, a great post. I’m the same with punctuality and it would be horrible sometimes. If someone was late I’d get angry, and then I’d get angry for them making me angry and upsetting my mood. It’s just silly. I had to learn to let it go (although that’s something I’m still working on!)


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