The Rules of Life


Growing up in the world can be a difficult process. There are lots of things that a person needs to know. The world is a funny place and can take a long time to understand. There are many things that others don’t know or won’t tell you. I know that there are many things that I wish I had known when I was younger. Here is a list of those things, 21 “rules” of life that everyone should know.


1. People are stupid: Okay, maybe that's unfair, but the truth is that everyone makes mistakes and a lot of people make a lot of mistakes. Don’t be surprised when it happens. You will find people that can't comprehend basic concepts, that will forget things that you have just told them, that won't understand simple logic, that won't know how they should act, that will know how they should act but don't, that will follow the crowd easily, that can’t see the big picture, that can't apply knowledge to new situations, etc. Anyone, regardless of age, sex, education, or experience, can misjudge reality or make a bad decision anytime. Deal with it, never underestimate it, and realize that it is the source of most bad things that happen.


2. Most people are the same: Biologically, we're all pretty similar. Most of us have the same basic senses, pleasures, and pains. This means three things. First, differences among people should usually be attributed to external factors, not a person’s disposition. Second, most people throughout all places and times have the same fears and desires. Third, other people think like you do more often than you might think.


3. A person’s life is shaped by others: The frequency and impact of this cannot be understated. People live the first years of their lives being taken care of by others. They identify what is normal through others. They are taught right and wrong by others. They look to others for comfort, friendship, camaraderie, and love. They look to others to determine reality and their place in the world. Connections to others can be very strong and can even be prized more highly than considerations for truth or logic.


4. Most things don't have a big effect on your happiness: Besides family, friends, and health, few things are likely to have a huge impact on your life. You can get used to having any amount of money. Whether you win or lose a game, it probably won’t matter the day after it’s over. New toys and new locations probably won’t dramatically improve your life and your failures and losses probably won't destroy your life. Focus on what matters.


5: Reality of causality: Things happen as they are made to happen, according to the existence of matter and energy, their properties, and physical laws. If you want to accomplish something, work with what exists. Wishful thinking accomplishes nothing.


6. People can rationalize anything: People want to believe that their thoughts are correct and consistent and that the universe is good and fair. If something disrupts this belief, people may go to great lengths to regain it. They can make excuses for any contradiction or misdeed. They can decide that a victim is responsible for the bad things that happen to him. If their behavior is different from their attitudes, they might change their attitudes. If you care about truth, try to make your thoughts reflect reality, not the other way around.


7. Nearly everything is a blessing and a curse: People tend to judge events as simply “good” or “bad,” but few experiences are completely one or the other. Gifts and privileges can isolate you and leave you with nothing to work for. Difficulties and mistakes can increase your knowledge and skills and give you a story to tell.


8. People are smart: While people are also frequently stupid, you can never count on it. Their ingenuity can surprise you.


9. People are selfish: People always try to do what they think is best to them. For most, this is heavily related to self-benefit. On some level, everyone looks out for themselves.


10. People are caring: While they may often be rude and, of course, selfish, people are caring when it matters. When people need help, people help people.


11. Hindsight is clear: Everything seems obvious once you know the outcome. Predicting the future isn’t as easy. Be careful not to overestimate how you’ve “known something all along.”


12. The Primacy effect: Everything is judged in context of the past. Therefore, the most important event is the first one. First impressions and first performances can last forever.


13. If there’s no accountability, don’t expect anything to be done: People only work hard when they see the benefit of it. Their attitude will reflect the credit and rewards they get.


14. Plan for the future, live in the present: You need to pay proper attention to both. If you neglect your happiness in the present, you might never be happy. If you neglect to prepare for the future, you might not have the means to live as you want for the rest of your life.


15. Nobody tries to be evil: In fiction and real life, there are many people and organizations that are thought to be “evil” and inherently delight in “bad” things happening. In reality, nobody causes misery without a reason. Sure, you might not like the reason, but there will be one.


16. Many judgments are relative: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. An object is only big if it is being compared to smaller objects. A person is only rich if he has a lot of money compared to others. Many judgments depend on an observer or a comparison.


17. Never give up hope: Whatever happens, you’ll have the strength to face it and the power to improve it if you never give up the expectation that things can go well.


18. You aren’t very noticeable to others: You spend a lot of time with yourself. You are aware of everything you do and everything you feel. While you may put a spotlight on yourself, others probably don’t. They aren’t nearly as conscious of what you think or do.


19. People tend to regret what they don’t try to do more than actual mistakes of equal weight: Few errors have horrible long-term consequences, but you’ll miss every experience you don’t have.


20. To have an easy life, follow the crowd: You can find plenty of people to agree with you if you agree with them.


21. Only you can decide your meaning and purpose in life: Thousands will tell you what is meaningful and what is right to do, but it is up to you to agree or disagree. You also have to live to please your values, not other people, if you want to live happily.