Everything we play has rules.
They’re how we know that, the football must break the goal line to be a touchdown; both your feet must be behind the line to have the basket count for three points; when you land on “Go to Jail” you go directly to jail, do not pass GO, do not collect $200. Most of us know these rules and countless more for many different sports, games and things in our life.
If we can all agree upon the rules of these games in life, why is it that almost all of us are not consciously aware of the rules for how we run our own lives? Rules like, “when I make $90,000 per year then I’ll be happy”, “if I am not married by the age of 35 I will be sad and die alone” or “if I don’t have the newest Blackberry I am not cool”. We each have hundreds, if not thousands, of rules.
These rules are the fabric of our life. They are deep seeded within us and for the most part we have no conscious idea that they even exist. They make up our habits, beliefs, values, identity and decisions. We learned most of them as kids from our parents, peers, teachers and environments. Then, as we became young adults, we learned even more rules from or new environments, jobs, friends and strangers. Every time you’re faced with a decision in life, you refer to your rules to determine the best course of action. This is why different people can experience the exact same situation and interpret it differently and make different decisions.
These rules are the playbook of life and most of us haven’t even taken the plastic wrap off. We walk around everyday believing that life happens to us, when in actual fact; we are guiding it the whole time. We choose to disassociate for fear of failure or disappointment and pin our good fortunes on luck. Occasionally there are things in life that are beyond our control, but for the most part we could simply change our rules and that would change our life. In order to do that, like a sports or board game, the rules must be clearly defined prior to commencing an activity (living consciously, happy and fulfilled) in order to give everyone participating an equal and fair opportunity to play and excel at the game (life).
That means is you must know how you define yourself and your life in order to fully participate and gain the things you desire. If you are frustrated at work or in your relationship, look at what’s happening and figure out the rules behind the play. Do you lose your cool and yell when your co-worker or spouse tells you to do something in a specific tone? Maybe a certain word or phrase upset you, but you don’t react the same way when your friends do it. Do you want a raise or more vacation time, maybe you want to find the love of your life? There are rules at work within you that are helping or hindering you to have these things. You have rules that are causing you to over work, under exercise, over control, save money, or place more value on privacy than intimacy. Perhaps you may have become comfortable in your financial situation, even if that is debt. We all have different levels (rules) of comfort zones which are why some people spend more than they earn every month and others are continuously trying to earn more.
Knowing your rules is not only vital for you to create the life you want but it enables others around you be able to play in your game (life) and ultimately have more joy everyday. We are constantly evolving and changing our rules based upon our exchanges with our internal and external environments. The only way to guide your life where you want it is to become aware of your rules so you may shape them in your favor. This can be done by taking some time to think and write down the rules you have in your life around the following areas: relationships, career, finance, spirituality, time, health, learning, love and hate. Start this process on your own and then branch out asking some of the people closest to you what they think your rules are in those areas. You will be amazed at how well they know your rules and have adapted to them. Then, as you go about your days consciously choose new rules and decisions based on how you want to live your life. You will be amazed at the amount of joy and pleasure you begin to gain by just becoming aware and changing a few of your rules.
I will leave you with one final thought; happiness has rules - we all have rules for when we can experience happiness in life. For many of us, it’s far too seldom and comes only when a variety of things align and typically only for brief periods. If we were all to change our rules about when we can be happy, we could all be happy at the same time, until the end of time. What would happen to the world as a result of mass happiness?
James is a personal coach specializing in transition coaching. For information on coaching opportunities with James, please email firstname.lastname@example.org