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The Rule of Reciprocity

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Some truths, some principles, are so universal across time and cultures that reflecting upon them reminds us of humanity’s essential unity. When we focus on the common threads that bind us, we are reminded that they are much greater than the things that divide us. Known at times as the “Global Ethic” and better known in the Western world as the “Golden Rule”, “The Rule of Reciprocity” runs deep in our shared traditions.

 

Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Judaism: “What you hate, do not do to anyone.”

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

Hinduism: “Do nothing to thy neighbor which thou wouldst not have him do to thee.”

Buddhism: “Hurt not others with that which pains thyself.”

Sikhism: “Treat others as you would be treated yourself.”

Confucianism: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

Aristotle: “We should behave to our friends as we wish our friends to behave to us.”

Plato: “May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me.”

 

Closing Quotes:

“Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him.” – Pittacus (c. 640–568 BC)

“Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.” – Thales (c. 624 BC – c. 546 BC)

“What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either.” – Sextus the Pythagorean, 3rd century AD

“Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others.” – Isocrates (436–338 BC)

The 1st 9 examples drawn from “The SPEED of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey & Rebecca R. Merrill, others from Wikipedia

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What is Negativity? The Delicate Art of Balancing

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Negativity: Lacking positive or constructive features; unpleasant; disagreeable, gloomy; pessimistic outlook, unfavorable, detrimental, hostile, disparaging; malicious. Something that lacks positive, affirmative, or encouraging features.

Our shadow side can be subtle, laying snares and traps for us on our path to our best self. The more we work on our personal and professional growth, the more nuanced the traps may be. As I wrote on negativity, I chose to look inward and wonder what weeds of negativity might still be growing, perhaps flourishing, in my personal, inner garden? The stronger emotions of negativity: hate, guilt, shame, blame, and even anger are more obvious and clear cut and thus easier to deal with. The more subtle ones: doubt, regrets, resentment, excessive expectations, frustration, second guessing, majoring in minor things: These often require balancing, for just as a vaccine is simply the disease in a small dose, so do some otherwise “negative” emotions serve a purpose in small amounts. Or perhaps a “good” emotion/thought train carried to excess or extreme can morph into the negative.

Questions of Balance:

When does a sincere desire to analyze and learn from experience turn into second guessing and regret?

Where does a strong desire for growth and progress cross over into excessive expectations, perhaps even frustration and resentment?

When do love of excellence and high standards of performance become debilitating judgment? Nit picking? Major in minor things? Letting ones pet peeves become priorities?

When does planning ahead and “saving for a rainy day” become yielding to one’s doubts?

Where lies the boundary between intelligent prudence and living in fear?

I have no generalized answer; the answer is always personal and perhaps changes for each individual, even a different answer at different points in life’s journey. And perhaps the answer lies as much in the process, in the willingness to ask the question and listen to what rises up from within your soul.

Closing Image Quotes:

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What Would My “Best Self” Do? Getting Back on Track…

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What do you do when you get off track? When you stumble or fumble? When your feet of clay seem to take over and the reptilian brain comes to the forefront and you find yourself doing dumb things, mired in a negative emotionally reactive state? Giving away your personal power to other people or to outside events?

When I find myself off track, I do two things:

1) I read some of my favorite inspirational literature, words that have inspired and guided me in the past. 

2) I JOURNAL, trying to tame and understand my emotions by forcing them down on to paper, teasing out triggers and linkages so as to better avoid this failure path in the future. 

Once I feel I’ve gotten the best handle I can on the swirling storm within, I frequently will write out some of my favorite affirmations; a familiar ritual that focuses my energy on who I want to be and where I want to go.

“I am calm and centered; I practice this feeling every day.”

“Being calm and relaxed energizes my whole being.”

“Calmness washes over me with every deep breath I take.”

“Every breath I take fills me with harmony and peace.

I frequently conclude by asking myself “what would my Best Self, my healthiest, happiest, most energized, on purpose self do?” and then follow that guidance. None of this is an instant panacea but in combination, I find it powerfully refocuses my energy and restores my forward momentum.

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