The Rules of Life
For a while, I worked with kids that were in a Juvenile Correctional Facility. What I learned was that most of these kids had at least one parent that had been incarcerated or suffered from mental illness, or had a physical disability (a real disability, like missing limbs). Most of these kids came from neighborhoods where crime, violence, and drug use was the norm and a positive role model was difficult, if not impossible, to find. It was evident that these kids seriously lacked direction in life had no framework for which base healthy decisions on.
I came up with a hand-out to give them what, I felt, might make them think a little if nothing else. Unlike most of the things I tried to impress upon them, I think they actually took some time to contemplate it, and didn't dismiss it right off. I hope that it made some positive impact. The hand-out is as follows:
Everyone comes up with their own rules for life. You may already have your own. Here is a sample that may give you ideas on what could be the most important things to remember in life. Some people might order these differently, find exceptions to them, or add or subtract some rules. Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide how you will live your life.
1) DON’T GET KILLED
a) This includes suicide or accidentally dying while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
b) Gang life significantly increases your chances of dying.
2) DON’T GET IMPRISONED
c) Going to prison increases your chances of getting killed
d) Prison time keeps you from accomplishing better things for yourself.
3) DON’T GET ADDICTED TO ANYTHING
e) Once addicted, you are no longer in control of your life, and it is a long hard fight to get that control back.
f) Addiction can lead to imprisonment and death.
4) TAKE CARE OF THOSE YOU CARE ABOUT
g) You can gain a lot through cooperation.
h) It is important to have people you can trust and count on.
5) GAIN SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, VALUES, ETHICS AND MORALS
i) These things will give you direction in life. You will learn what is important to you and how to get it.
j) These things will also help you to make big decisions, like how to choose a wife or husband, or when to have children.
k) You will also learn how to avoid harmful things and situations, for example: Sexually Transmitted Diseases or certain kinds of cancer.
6) GET MONEY, (legally) AND USE IT WISELY
a) “A fool and his money are soon parted.”
7) BE HAPPY
l) Have a positive attitude
m) Create good self-esteem
n) Build good communication skills
o) Practice good self-control
p) Develop a healthy social network of friends and family
q) Discover a fun and fulfilling hobby
r) Practice good coping skills when dealing with tough problems
s) Practice good goal-making and goal-completion skills (helps self esteem)
t) Get a fulfilling job
u) Stay healthy – both mentally and physically
v) Don’t wait too long to ask for help
8) TEACH OTHERS HOW TO LIVE WELL
a) Personal Responsibility is involved in all these rules of life.