. Whichever point of view you support, there are some universal rules of life that seem to work for everyone. Today we won’t talk about things like karmic laws. We will list a few no-nonsense rules that may sound uncomfortable and even discouraging, but they will open your eyes to the raw truth of life, regardless of your personal beliefs. Many people are guilty of what is called ‘black-and-white thinking’. It’s when you tend to perceive things in a very absolute manner – that something/someone is either good or bad, kind or evil, success or failure. We think in absolute terms because it’s more convenient. It helps us make sense of all the mess that is going on in the surrounding world. As a matter of fact, this feature of our thinking is skillfully manipulated by propaganda and marketing experts. That’s why so many people nowadays slip into the ‘us vs them‘ mentality without even realizing it. But real life is nothing like that. It is full of shades, nuances, and half-truths. Nothing is ever black or white. It also means that you can’t be certain of anything. Of course, we all have our established opinions and views, but the best strategy is to always leave some space for doubt. I’m not saying that you should immediately drop your personal, religious, or political beliefs. Just be careful with those thought patterns that prevent you from seeing the big picture and using your critical thinking. In any situation, it’s wise to avoid narrow-mindedness and blind belief. We all want to believe that our future will be full of positive events and emotions. And it’s a great way to view life and a strong motivator that pushes us towards new achievements. But it’s a mistake to suppose that you will never have to go through hardships. Yes, some people seem to face more challenges in their lives than others. But the sure thing is that we all have our portion of tough times to endure. It’s good to be prepared and cultivate resilience rather than fall into the trap of blind positivity and rule out the possibility of a negative outcome. Whether you are an intrinsically negative or positive person, being realistic is what makes all the difference. You can be bothered by someone’s selfishness, but it doesn’t change the basic rule of life: in any given situation, most people will put themselves first and do what’s best for them. And they will make this choice even if it goes against other people’s interests. Altruistic personalities who care about the common good or someone else’s wellbeing more than their own are rare. Even though humans are capable of empathy and compassion, selfishness is in our nature and goes hand in hand with other flaws such as greed and envy. Sometimes, we make mistakes and let the wrong people into our lives. We rely too much on them and expect them to be there for us. But when a crisis comes and we need their help, we see their true faces. Thus, it’s wiser to rely on yourself rather than expect support from other people. In other words, never take someone’s help for granted. As we move through the stream of life, we form a set of perceptions and expectations. This process starts in childhood when we learn from role models such as our parents and teachers. To the moment when we reach adulthood, we all have a different set of values, opinions, and expectations. This explains why other people don’t always behave the way we want them to and we find ourselves mistreated, betrayed, and neglected. Some people are perfectly fine with deceiving and taking advantage of others because their moral code allows them to.
The truth is that everyone does what they want and what they think is right according to their perspective. It’s our expectations towards other people that leave us hurt and broken. So one of the most important rules to follow in life is to keep them realistically low. It doesn’t mean that you should expect the worst from everyone or focus on the negative behaviors of those around you. It means understanding why they behave the way they do and not letting it affect you. We all have aspirations. We all dream about something big. Well, most of us do. But some people seem to be expecting that their accomplishments will be effortless and success will come to them by magic. It’s often the same types of people who prefer to rely on others to achieve their goals. But whatever it is that you want to achieve, be ready to put effort into it. Be prepared to chase it, fail, work hard, fail again, and constantly improve. Success doesn’t come easily and effortlessly. Such scenarios are real only in romantic movies and children’s books. It’s probably one of the most frustrating rules of life, but this is how it works. Finally, the most important rule of life is that there are no... rules. We grow up to adopt concepts of fairness and good/evil, thinking that we will face them in real life. We expect life to be fair and treat good people with kindness while punishing bad guys for all the suffering they caused. When we don’t see it happen, we experience disappointment. Life doesn’t always work this way – bad things happen to good people, and shady personalities make their dreams come true. So maybe the most discouraging and yet persistent of all the rules to live by is that life doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes, bad things just happen, and there is no universal explanation for how it works. Of course, you may believe in karma, God’s will, or fate, but it requires you to have faith. If we look at the situation through the lens of logic and critical thinking, no realistic explanation can be found. I believe this is one of the toughest rules of life to swallow because we have a natural tendency to look for meaning. When we can’t find it, we feel lost and confused. But sometimes, we have no other choice but to embrace what life has brought to our door and adapt to the change.
There are many rules of life that sound positive and encouraging, but they don’t always work in the real world. At the same time, being overly negative and pessimistic can be poisonous and counterproductive. I guess the secret is to make sure you remain realistic – no matter what you do or don’t believe in. Seeing the good in people and maintaining a positive outlook is only great as long as you have a sober perception of life. So, cultivate critical thinking skills, leave some space for doubt, and have realistic expectations towards life and other people. And with time, you will figure out your own set of rules to live by that will make sense to you.
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