Success & Abundance
The Real Rules of Life
Consider some deeper truths.
Published: May 28, 2012
You can face life with courage and joy.
Life has rules.
They just may not be the ones you think.
It starts on the playground or sitting around the kitchen table as a kid. “The early bird gets the worm,” we’re told. “Slow and steady wins the race.” “Play fair and people will play fair with you.” “Good things happen to good people.” “Keep your faith, and your dreams will come true.”
From day one, these are the rules we’re taught to live by. We get them from our parents, our teachers, and our culture at large, and as we grow older, they form the foundation of our hopes, expectations, and beliefs. In theory, it’s a great system. All we have to do is treat people fairly, set positive goals, and work hard to achieve them. Since life is fair, everything works out in the end.
Here’s the catch: these rules aren’t real.
If you are reading this, chances are you’ve already discovered that the rules you thought were real are not. Things you were told turned out not to be true. Life’s not fair. Good things don’t always happen to good people. Your heart breaks, you feel betrayed by people you trusted and sometimes you even lose those you love. No matter how hard you work, how diligently you pray or how respectfully you treat other people, the truth remains: life will have its say.
In my new book, I want to share with you the real rules of life. They’re not the rules you’ve heard a hundred times before, and they’re not always what you’d expect. Some of them are going to be a relief, a welcome “aha!” affirming what you have always known in your heart. Others may feel terribly uncomfortable and hit painfully close to home. Together, they all make up the subtle, simple truths of how life really is. That includes life’s many mysteries, blessings, uncertainties, and the vast unknowingness we’re asked to live in day by day. At times, these truths can seem overwhelming. They can leave us feeling so empty that we just don’t want to face them. Yet it is in our best interest to do exactly that. Understanding and boldly coming to terms with how life really is, sooner rather than later, positions us to live the rest of our lives fully awake. Making peace with what we’ve been avoiding or running away from, perhaps since childhood, allows us to ripen as human beings.
We spend a lot of time and energy avoiding and denying the Real Rules of Life. We struggle within ourselves, trying desperately not to look these truths in the eyes. And yet, by acknowledging their existence, one by one, we can begin to make peace with life. Take the fact that we age, for example. Making peace with our own mortality, coming to terms with changes in our bodies as they slow and eventually break down, is one tough challenge. But doing this, as we will see, allows us to make the necessary adjustments to live more enjoyably and purposefully in the time we have. Apple founder and icon Steve Jobs, who died this past year, understood this. “Remembering that I will be dead soon,” he said in a speech to Stanford graduates, “is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
We can also recognize that we will probably suffer heartbreaking losses and disappointments during the course of our lives. That we live in dangerous, risky, unsafe and uncertain times, where so many things are out of our control. And, perhaps most important, that life’s many blessings and gifts will pass us by unless we begin to count them.
So the question becomes: How do we deal with the reality of our lives? Courageously face our fears? And awaken? How do we not tie up all our energy in hiding, denying, repressing, pretending, avoiding, and hurrying through our days? How do we free ourselves so that we may embrace life’s deep, rich joys and weather its sorrows? How do we become more humbly aware and accepting of how life really is—while living more boldly than ever? As if each day was a precious gift?
The Real Rules presented in my book will set you on the path of far greater awareness, more vibrant joy, and a deeper effectiveness in coping with life’s ups and downs. It’s not about doing it perfectly. It’s about debunking the false rules and opening yourself up to the real ones. You’ll discover that significantly greater clarity, personal effectiveness, peace and contentment come when you understand life’s terms—and how to balance them with your own.
We all travel different paths in this life. Some we choose. Some choose us. The path that chose me was one of loss. It was set into motion by one defining moment that transformed my life 15 years ago. The loss of my daughter, Jenna, and my life as her father, has brought me to where I am right now: writing about the lessons I’ve learned along life’s long, uneven course.
Ken Druck, Ph.D., is one of the nation’s pioneers in personal transformation, breaking fresh ground in male psychology, executive coaching, organizational consulting, parent effectiveness, healing after loss, and, most recently, the art of turning adversity into opportunity. Druck Enterprises, Inc. (DEI), is a leading coaching, consulting, and team-building firm with a broad base of clients.