Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Golden Rule (Part One)

“Treat others how you want to be treated”

 For thousands of years, this well-known phrase has been a point of departure for many people wishing to live a prosperous life. I do not know the origins of the phrase itself but variations of this “rule” can be found in the scriptures of many religions and ways of life including Christianity and Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Other variations of the phrase, with the same concept, can be found in Judaism, Confucianism, and Islam. For others, it is a simple and effective way to live life.

How does it work? It may seem simple and self-explanatory; however I believe that this philosophy is a more complex system than what meets the eye. 

First and foremost, when someone chooses to practice this way of life they are identifying how they want others to act towards them. This, too, may seem simple but not everybody thinks about how they want to be treated. For example, some people absentmindedly expect the best and for everything to work harmoniously as if everybody else is in-tune with their desires and schedules. Only when they are harmed or things don’t go their way, do they identify that they don’t wish to be treated that way.

How you act towards others (for better or worse) subconsciously lets them know how they should treat you. In a healthy social situation, people mirror the actions of others. A smile is reciprocated with a smile and people can sense your comfort level and can feel that way around you. The opposite is also true. If someone acts obnoxious to a stranger, chances are they will be treated the same unless the other person is kinder, more dominant, or just ignores them. While this may only be true on a short-term level, it can be very important as we develop friendships and relationships. As they grow in time, the connections that we have with others are greatly effected by how WE act towards them.

I recently had a conversation with someone and it slightly troubled me. The topic was respect and during our dialogue he said:

“It’s easy, man. If they respect me, I’ll respect them. It’s simple as that.”

I found it intriguing that he was waiting to be respected before he would give anybody respect. Perhaps he should try making his wishes a reality by taking initiative and doing it first. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” As Gandhi so eloquently put it. He should be proactive and not wait for others to initiate respect. He shouldn’t expect it to just come to him.

The same is true for us. Don’t EXPECT others to be kind or caring to you as if it is your rite. Rather, set the tone and make it known how you want others to act towards you. Be an example and take the lead by showing others how to properly treat people.         

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