The Golden Rule is short and to the point: Treat others as you want them to treat you. It’s pretty simple, yet we often complicate it.
In his book The Zen Commandments, Dean Sluyter says “our personal relationships can be simpler than we usually make them.” He summarizes the principles he thinks make relationships work.
“Whether in a romance or a marriage or a family, the principles are the same: you take care of one another, you be as kind as you can, you do your share of finding new sources of fun, you quietly pass up opportunities to score points or be a wise guy, you give the benefit of the doubt, and you try to make things less insane rather than more. If you think the other person is off the program you address the situation gently and with respect. But since the problem is often your own perception, you can save everyone a lot of grief by waiting a little while first to see if your perception changes.”
The Zen Commandments: Ten Suggestions for a Life of Inner Freedom, Dean Sluyter, from Lesson #5: Keep it Simple
Here’s my summary of his Principles
- Take care of each other
- Be kind
- Do your share
- Avoid being an ass
- Assume the best (not the worst)
- Make things better (rather than worse)
- Before jumping to a conclusion, wait
- If, after waiting, there’s still an issue, address it
Sluyter’s advice resonates for me, both the words and the simplicity of it. If both people in a relationship apply it, a lot of perceived relationship problems disappear. Did the thing go away or did our thoughts about it change?
I know thoughts in my mind impact my perception of things, and that can affect how I experience stuff. I’ve received new information in situations and been shocked at how quickly my perception has pivoted.
I want to keep #7 in mind. Life promises change; guarantees it. I’ve been amazed at how something that had a hold of me can lose its power simply with the passage of time.
What relationship principles guide you in life?