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Life 101: Eight rules for being human

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By Linda Arnold EBS CONTRIBUTOR

If you’re like me, you’re drawn to those lists of quick tips that bombard us from supermarket checkouts and social media feeds.

This got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some quick tips on being human? Combining my professional experience and research with insights from licensed clinical social worker, Lewis Quinby, of R&M Seminars, I’ve come up with the following.

Rules for being human

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

2. You’re enrolled in a full-time informal school called life. Each day you will be given lessons. You may like the lessons—or not.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth relies on trial-and-error. The “failed” experiments are just as relevant as the “successful” ones.

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.

5. “There” is no better than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”

6. Others are mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

7. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. The choices are yours.

8. Your answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you have to do is look, listen and trust.

Taking it all in

Items 4 and 7 speak the loudest to me right now. When presented with a challenge in the same arena over and over, refer to item 4. Life lessons tend to repeat themselves.

Maybe there’s a way you could handle situations more directly or discreetly. Or even spot a challenge before it has the chance to take hold.

Quinby advises that “you define reality by what you know, what you believe and what you do about it,” a reflection of the transactional analysis therapy model.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Item 6 holds particular intrigue for me. Though I don’t doubt its validity, I find it difficult to reconcile at times.

Is that person who is getting on your very last nerve a mirror of you? When I first learned this concept, I heard a slight variation: “Those people who bug you the most provide a mirror for you to look at something about yourself you don’t like or are afraid you will become.”

Think of someone who bugs you and test this out. See if you have any “a-ha” moments. I’ll admit it can be hard. Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.

Our living laboratory of life

Different items will speak to you at different times. If you’re frustrated, item 4 may resonate. If you’re contemplating a career or geographical move, or if you’re the type who is always thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, item 5 may jump out.

No matter how or when you look at the list, though, there are some universal theories. And I find item 3 the most comforting. “There are no mistakes, only lessons.” Whew, what a relief!

Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor and founder of a multistate marketing company. Reader comments are welcome at linda@lindaarnold.org or visit lindaarnold.orgfor information on her books.

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