To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality.
Rule 2 Treat Yourself like Someone You are Responsible for Helping
Rule 3 Make Friends with People Who Want the Best for You
People vary significantly, in ways that seem both structural and deterministic. People differ in intelligence, which is in large part the ability to learn and transform. People have very different personalities as well. Some are active, and some passive. Others are anxious or calm. For every individual driven to achieve, there is another who is indolent. The degree to which these differences are immutably part and parcel of someone is greater than an optimist might presume or desire. And then there is illness, mental and physical, diagnosed or invisivel, further limiting or shaping our lives.
Carl Rogers believed it was impossible to start a therapeutic relationship if the person seeking help did not want to improve. He believed it was impossbile to convince someone to change for the better. The desire to improve was, instead, the precondition for progress.
Have some humility. Have some courage. Use your judgement, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity.
Rule 4: Compare Yourself to Whoe You were Yesterday, Not to Who Someone Else is Today
You use a set of tools to screen most things out and let some things in. You have spent a lot of time building those tools. They've become habitual. They're not mere abstract thoughts. They're built right into you. They orient you in the world. They're your deepest and often implicit and unconscious values. They've become part of your biological structure. They'are alive.
Rule 5: Do NOT let Your children do Anything that Makes You Dislike Them
limit the rules;
use minimum necessary forces;
parents should come in pairs;
parents should understand their own capacity to be harsh, vengeful, arrogant, resentful, angry and decitful;
parents ahve a duty to act as proxies for the ral world - merciful proxies, caring proxies. This obligation supersedes any responsibility to ensure happiness, foster creativity, or boost self-esteem.
A child who pays attention, instead of drifting, and can plays, and does not whine, and is comical, but not annoying, and is trustworthy - that child will have friends wherever he goes.
Rule 6: Set your House in Perfect Order Before You Criticize the World
Tolstoy could identify only four means of escaping from such thoughts. ONe was retreating into childlike ignorance of the problem. Another was pursuing mindless pleasure. The third was "continuing to drag out a life that is evil and meaningless, knowing beforehand that nothing can come of it." He identified tha tparticular form of escape with weakness:"The people in this category knows that death is better than life, but they do not have the strength to act rationally and quickly put an end to the delusion by killing themselves..."
Rule 7: Pursue What is Meaningful (Not What is Expedient)
Something better might be attained in the future by giving up something of value in the present.
Expedience is the following of blind impulse. It's short-term gain. It's narrow, and selfish. It lies to get its way. It takes nothing into account. It's immature and irresponsible. Meaning is its mature replacement. Meaning emerges when impulses are regulated, organized and unified. Meaning emerges from the interplay between the possibilities of the world and the value structure operating within that world. If the value structure is aimed at the betterment of Being, the meaning revealed will be life-sustaning. It will provide the antidote for chaos and suffering.
Meaning is the ultimate balance between, on the one hand, the chaos of transformation and possibility and on the other, the discipline of pristine order, whose purpose is to produce out of the attendant chaos a new order that will be even more immaculate, and capable of bring forth a still more balanced and producctive chaos and order.
Rule 8: Tell the Truth - or, at least, Don't Lie
The capacity of the rational mind to deceive, manipulate, scheme, trick, falsify, minimize, mislead, betray, prevaricate, deny, omit, rationalize, bias, exaggerate and obscure is so endless, so remarkable, that centruies of pre-scientific thought, concentrating on clarifying the nature of moral endeavour, regarded it as positively demonic.
Rule 9: Assume That the Person You Are Listening to Might Know Something You Don't
Psychotherapy is not advice. Advice is what you get when the person you're talking with about something horrible and complicated wishes you would just shut up and go away. advice is what you get when the person you are talking to wants to revel in the superiority of his or her own intelligence.
Psychotherapy is genuine conversation. Genuine conversation is exploration, articulation and strategizing. When you're involved in a genuine conversation, you're listening, and talking - but mostly listening. Listening is paying attention.
The final type of conversation, akin to listening, is a form of mutual exploration. It requires true reciprocity on the part of those listening and speaking. It allows all participants to express and organize their thoughts. A conversation of mutual exploration has a topic, generally complex, of genuine interest to the participants. Everyone participating is trying to solve a problem, instead of insisting on the a priori validity of their own positions. All are acting on the premise that they have something to learn. This kind of conversation constitutes active philosophy, the highest of thought, and the best preparation for proper living.
You remain threatened by disease, and self-deception, and unhappiness, and malevolence, and betrayal, and corruption, and pain, and limitation.
Rule 10: Be precise in Your Speech
Communication would require admission of terrible emotions: resentment, terror, loneliness, despair, jealousy, frustration, hatred, boredom. Moment by moment, it's easier to keep the peace.
Rule 11: Do NOT Bother Children When they are Skateboarding
Rule 12: Pet a Cat When You Encounter One on the Street
Dogs are like people. They are the friends and allies of human beings. They are social, hierarchical, and domesticated. They are happy at the bottom of the family pyramid. They pay for the attention they receive with loyalty, admiration, and love.
It is hard to disengage in the heat of an argument, when anger generates the desire to defeat and win. But it seemed better than risking the consequences of a dispute that threatened to spiral out of control.
It takes repated practice, to instantiate the new perceptions and make the new actions habitual. It's much easier just not to realize, admit and engage. Its' much easier to turn your attention away from the truth and remain wilfully blind.
What had we each done to contribute to the situation we were arguing about? However small, however distant... we had each made some error.