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Still More Guiding Principles

medium_2443965179Every time something new happens, I go back to my old ways.

This Guiding Principle reminds me that when I experience a situa­tion in the present that my mind interprets as similar to a past situa­tion, my amygdala will generally kidnap my common sense and cue me with my old default programming.

Remembering that every time something new happens, I go back to my old ways is vital information. It reminds me that, despite what I’ve learned through mindful awareness, my old hard-wiring will tend to make me want to go back to my habitual mindless acts. It reminds me that the only way to stop letting my hardwiring run me on automatic is to be mindful: This means interrupting my machinery; dis-identi­fying with the voice in my head; disengaging from my old Organiz­ing Principles and the acts they trigger; and focusing on my Guiding Principles so that I can be in the present and respond mindfully.

Don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t have them do unto you.

This Guiding Principle is the original Golden Rule as stated in the Talmud, and learning it has made a tremendous difference in my life.

As a child, I was taught that the Golden Rule was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I interpreted this to mean that I should do everything that other people—especially people close to me—wanted me to do for them. This created pres­sure for me to do what they wanted, or what I anticipated they wanted. Often I did what others asked of me, even if I didn’t want to do it and even if I felt that it wasn’t right. In the instances when I didn’t do as others wished, I felt guilty and beat myself up for not doing it because I didn’t feel that I had the right to have refused. The original Golden Rule from the Talmud, however—don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t have them do unto you—reminds me simply not to harm others. This has enlightened me and “lightened” my life considerably by lifting off my shoulders the obligation I used to feel to please people, regardless of my own feelings.


An excerpt from my recent book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, now available at Amazon.


photo credit: straightedge217 via photopin cc

  • 26 Jan, 2015
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 8 Tags

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