Life Balance: Why Following Rules Is Liberating

When people follow the rules it helps other people; for example, by not showing up to an appointment in time, someone may be forcing someone else to wait.  By following the rules it helps to live a balanced life and at the same time may be helping someone else live a balanced life as well. 

I’m very big on rules. I don’t always obey the speed limit, and sometimes I ignore the sign that says “please return carts here,” and put them by a curb instead. But other than that, I’m pretty much a rule follower – I conform not only when I have to, but because it’s often the ‘right thing’ to do.

I take pride in being on time. For that matter, I’m often a bit early. I don’t cut in line. I let people in on the freeway, and when I see a lane is closed ahead, I start getting over early (most of the time) so I don’t cut anyone off.

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I’m a Type One on the Enneagram for those of you who are familiar with it.

I may sound a little uptight about rules, but I think rules are an important part of the balanced, emotionally healthy life I want to live. Because following the rules isn’t about me.

When I follow the rules, it helps you. As a purely trivial example, let’s assume I’m getting breakfast at a drive-through this morning, and it’s one of those double drive-throughs. I’m on the right, you’re on the left. I finish first, but I refuse to pull forward because I’m trying to be polite to you. You get to the window only to find out they’re expecting me, and if someone is not paying attention, all the orders get screwed up.

If I don’t show up for an appointment on time, not only am I inconveniencing those I was slated to meet, but I may be interfering with your appointment, which follows mine.

I won’t, if I can help it, show up late for a meeting with a group. There are those who made the effort to be on time. Why should they be inconvenienced by my tardiness?

I’m using these examples of very small things intentionally to demonstrate how very small rule-bending can affect other people in negative ways, even when we think we’re bending the rules for a good reason, and even when we think there is no way our rule-bending can hurt anything.

Rules matter because we’re not completely independent, even when we want to be and even when we think we are. We’re interdependent, and when I don’t follow the rules, it hurts you. I follow the rules because I know it’s the polite, courteous and helpful thing to do, and I expect you to do it for the same reasons.

If you’re following the rules and so am I, we’re both less likely to have problems, either minor or major, caused by one of us straying from what we’re supposed to do.

I firmly believe my balanced life depends on following the rules and helping other people keep their lives in balance. In some ways I guess this is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I guess following rules helps me avoid stress, too, because if I’m just following simple rules, I’m not having to spend a lot of time thinking about what’s the right thing to do in this or that situation.

Then I can spend my time making decisions that really matter, and doing things that are important, and that’s how I define a balanced life.

How can you balance your life by following rules?

  • Think about rules in your life – deadlines, stop signs, etc.
  • How do you usually act in regard to rules?

Thanks to E3 Success Systems for including this post in the Carnival of Success Principles.

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