Your Personal Commandments

When Gretchen Rubin, an author I admire, challenged readers to create a list of our own personal “commandments,” I was intrigued and decided to try it. I liked the idea of distilling my core values down to just a few words. This isn’t meant to be a list of resolutions or goals, or anything that can be “checked off” daily, but principles that guide you in creating a happier life. In this post, she lists her own commandments, which are awesome. Here are the commandments I came up with for myself:

  1. Love the people.
  2. Smile, laugh, jump, play.
  3. Get out of my comfort zone.
  4. Never suppress a generous thought.
  5. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
  6. Put the yummy in and get the yucky out.
  7. Welcome challenges.
  8. Be a “hands-free” mama.
  9. Live grounded and centered.
  10. Dream big.
  11. Breathe.
  12. Surrender to the Now.

Do you know what overarching principles and values guide your life? It’s an interesting and informative exercise to condense these down to a list of just twelve succinct items. I would challenge you to try this for yourself, and then review it often, every day if possible. (This review step is one that I have neglected, but have now committed to start doing!)

Here are three tips Gretchen Rubin gives for how to come up with your list:

  1. Consider phrases that have stuck with you. I like the “hands-free mama” blog, which encourages readers to put down electronic devices and really be present with your children, so that phrase has stuck with me. “Love the people” and “Put the yummy in, get the yucky out” both come from Kirk Duncan, the mentor who got me started with mentoring. Other ones like “attitude of gratitude” have been said by many different people, but it’s catchy.
  2. Aim high and fight the urge to be too comprehensive. Yes, these commandments are the ideal that I strive for; they don’t usually represent my day-to-day life and behavior. But I’d really like them to! Keep your list “short and snappy,” so that you can easily review it often, and don’t stress about all the important things that didn’t make the list. And if twelve items is way too many, you can whittle your list down to just the two most important commandments, which for me are #1 and #5.
  3. Think about what’s true for you. Everyone is different and will have unique priorities and challenges. One person might write “make time for others” while someone else writes “make time for myself.” Focus on what makes you happy. When I first read Gretchen’s list, I just wanted to steal a lot of the commandments she had written, and while some of my own express the same principles as hers, they are put into words that are meaningful for me.

I hope you’ll try this, and then I really hope you’ll post your own commandments (or at least a few of them) in the comments section. I’m interested to see what’s important to different people. Each of you has a vast amount of wisdom, gleaned from your own unique experiences and point of view. Let’s inspire one another!

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