Recently I was re-reading “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale, and he referred to a list of ten “rules”, created by Thomas Jefferson, designed to help a person live a fulfilling and balanced life.
Surprisingly enough, having spent over two decades studying the field of personal development, I’m kinda embarrassed to say that I’d never heard of this list. (Or maybe I had heard of them, but had somehow forgotten them over time.)
That phenomenon is always interesting to me… How we can hear or read something at a certain stage of our lives, and then at some later date, often several years later, we are reminded to return to it and find a whole new meaning within the content.
Does that ever happen to you?
And then I realized, hey…maybe you’ve never heard of them either?
Even though these rules were written nearly two centuries ago, the wisdom contained within is equally as fitting and applicable today as it was back then.
Here they are, with a little added commentary:
2) Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
(When we think of personal accountability, how easy is it to make excuses or assume someone else will complete what needs to be done? If it’s in your power to do, step up and do it!)
3) Never spend your money before you have it.
(This is one that I’ve struggled with before. In a world that is bent on instant gratification, it’s a discipline that you must adopt if you intend to become financially free.)
4) Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
(The only cure for the impulse buy is to contemplate what you’ll need to sacrifice in exchange. Nothing of value in life is free. Is it worth the cost?)
5) Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
(How many times have you allowed your pride to get in the way of relationships, education, or success? Humility is a sign of strength, not weakness. Be humble.)
6) We never repent of having eaten too little.
(Of course the opposite is that we’ve often been sorry for indulging too much! Moderation in all things produces balance.)
7) Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
(When you approach your responsibilities and goals with an attitude of wonder and willingness, your troubles seem to fade away. Figure out ways to inject fun or interest in those things that you must do.)
8) How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
(This one really hits home, because most things that we worry about exist only in our minds. At least, until we create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Choose to focus on possibility versus imagined obstacles.)
9) Take things always by their smooth handle.
(This idea speaks to the “course of least resistance”. There often exists an easy solution to most problems, yet we tend to allow our arrogance to create unnecessary complexity. Look for an easy answer and you’ll often find it!)
10) When angry, count to ten before you speak, when very angry, one-hundred.
(Few accurate decisions or actions can be accomplished from a state of anger. We are all wired with the ability to produce anger, but when we choose to pause…for as long as it takes…we will ultimately produce better results.)
Reviewing this list has inspired me to produce a list of ten rules of my own. Once I’ve developed them, they will appear in this blog. I’d like to encourage you to do the same, and create standards, values, and a framework of organized ideas that you can live by.
Your life will never be the same again.