The Golden Rule - Revisited
The Golden Rule - Revisited
Until very recently, it has ben my understanding that The Golden Rule was as simple as it sounds, Do unto others as you would have them do to you. In other words, Be nice to people in order to ensure they will be nice to you. As such, it sounded rather mercenary.
After reading Chapet 16 of "The Law of Success", however, I beleive there is a much deeper meaning.
The Golden Rule
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you"
Mt 7:12 - NIV
We have all heard the Golden Rule but do we really understand it, particularly with regard to our daily interaction with others?
I have been reading the discussion of "The Golden Rule" as presented in Chapter 16 of Napoleon Hill's "Law of Success" and have had an epiphany! I always took the Golden Rule to suggest that you will receive the same (or similar) response from others in similar fashion to the way you treat them. Treat people nicely and people will treat you nicely (and who doesn't want to be treated nicely?). Treat people poorly and expect to be treated poorly.
Is this, however, what is meant by "Do unto others ..." and, more importantly, who does it REALLY benefit the most?
Day to Day Interactions
In our day-to-day lives, we all interact with people; family, friends, business associates and strangers. And, so much of our day is influenced upon the outcomes of those interactions or, more specifically, how we respond to those outcomes.
If we take the transit system or, as an even more emphatic example, an elevator to work, we are very familiar with the manner in which we stay isolated in our separate world, interacting as little as possible with those around us. We have our protective barriers erected against possible interaction. We read books or the newspaper, plug ourselves into our iPods or work on our lap-tops. No end to the ways in which we can communicate the fact that we don't want to ... well, communicate.
If we have an exchange with a taxi driver, vendor or just bump into someone in the street, depending on the nature of both their response and our own, such an incident can set a "mood" for an entire day, if we let it. Some days, simply getting up "on the wrong side of the bed" in the morning can spoil a day, if we let it.
These are, I suggest, examples of how we might "manifest what we visualize into our lives", examples of how "attraction" and "magnetism" colours our interactions with people, how the "Law of Attraction" works when dealing with "mankind". Our mind set, our disposition dictates how we treat the world and, in return, how the world treats us.
"Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Dye it, then, with a continuous series of such thoughts ..."
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
As an extreme example, let's consider the character Scrooge in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". The story begins by defining Scrooge's character as "... a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!" ... before he meets Jacob Marley and the three ghosts. As Scrooge moves through every aspect of every day, his interactions with one and all are confrontational and distasteful. He is an entirely unsavoury character with whom to associate and overpowers everyone he encounters with his self-, or more accurately, money-centred consciousness. There are some exceptions, the most notable being his nephew who exudes Christmas cheer despite his uncle's ugly disposition. Scrooge exemplifies the definitive bad attitude toward his fellow man. It is very enlightening that his disposition is a direct result of his money centred consciousness.
He treats everyone he encounters with the character resulting from his money centred consciousness, every human interaction is based on an extreme "cost benefits analysis". In return, he receives cautious, timid, thoroughly cowed responses from his employees, disbelief and disappointment from businessmen (seeking charitable donations) and contempt from his business peers when informed of his death (Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come).
At the other extreme, let us look at another Christmas classic - "It's A Wonderful Life". George Bailey goes through his life (as reviewed for Clarence, his guardian angel) always giving of himself for his family, friends and "Building and Loan" clients, even going so far as to extend loans to his clients immediately after his wedding in response to a desperate financial crisis. He is presented, in many instances, as resenting his circumstances (but, tellingly, not resenting those he has helped). These responses are consistent with the core beliefs of his character. When life presents him with his own desperate, individual crisis, his family, friends and even strangers all come willingly, even eagerly, forward in order to provide the necessary assistance, far in excess of his actual requirements.
"A man reaps what he sows ... Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up"
Gal. 6:7 and 9
Admittedly, these are carefully constructed plots for story purposes, however, they do portray contrasting examples of the human experience and, more specifically, they exemplify "The Golden Rule". Both characters get back responses from their fellow man consistent with the core beliefs of their characters which dictate the nature of their interaction with their fellow man.
Where Scrooge presents a miserly disposition to those whom he encounters, he receives a similarly negative response in return. In contrast, where George Bailey exemplifies a generous and caring disposition in his daily life, he is offered respect, admiration and, when desperately needed, generosity in return. This generosity, as I stated above, was far in excess of his actual needs.
So, when we go about our lives on a day-to-day basis, what is the nature of the character we exemplify toward others; our family, friends, business associates and the strangers we meet. If we typically offer the world an unfriendly disposition, should we not expect, over time, to develop an unfriendly character? On the other hand, if we make active attempts to greet those whom we encounter in a friendly manner, should we not expect to develop a friendly disposition in our character?
Manifest the Change you Desire
Manifest the Change You Desire in the World
To be clear, all I am proposing is a simple smile, and possibly a "Hello", to the people we meet in the course of our day. A little daily courtesy to the coffee vendor in the morning. Simply small acts of courtesy and kindness in your day. It has been said that smiles are contagious. Perhaps smiles are similar to love in that it might be very hard to give them away as they are always given back.
"... our brains become magnetized with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds, and ... these "magnets" attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts".
If we are going about our day with a cheerful disposition, we should reasonably expect to get cheerful responses from those whom we know. We may not get a cheerful response from the strangers we meet, however, give some thought to how someone you didn't know, passing by with a smile, may have been a ray of sunlight in your day. Furthermore, it's hard to have a bad day if you are smiling.
Who Really Benefits?
In the scenarios presented above, all those involved in the proposed exchanges realize some emotional response out of the exchanges. However, I suggest that you are the greatest (or worst) beneficiary of the exchanges. I believe we reap what we sow. If we present a pleasant and outgoing (positive) demeanor to those we encounter in our day, we become pleasant and outgoing and develop a corresponding positive attitude.
If, on the other hand, we present a disagreeable, negative demeanor to the world, we will drive people away and develop a negative attitude to the world over time (to match our negative demeanor - negative response feedback loop).
To take this argument further, in order to develop the character traits we desire in ourselves, we need to be actively exemplifying them in our daily lives. If these character traits are foreign to us, then we need to initially ‟act" them out in order to eventually possess them. I believe this is what Napoleon Hill suggests in "Think and Grow Rich" and "Law of Sucess".
If we walk around, day-in and day-out, with a frown on our faces, how long until we develop a frown on our heart (if you will permit the metaphor)). Conversely, if we pass our day with a smile on our faces, acknowledging and relishing the good things we encounter every day, how long until we develop that same smile in our heart.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control"
At the very least, begin and end your days with a smile and good word for the members of your family. A smile from your wife or husband as you head off to work and smiles from your children goes a long way to easing the stress and tension in a day.
We reap what we sow. With these words in mind, I suggest we go out and sow a cheerful day. Doing so will place a cheerful disposition on ours souls and, over time, we will reap cheerfulness from those we meet.
"A man passes for what he is worth. What he is engraves itself on his face, on his form, on his fortunes, in letter of light which all men may read but himself. ... ".
The Golden Rule - References Cited
The following texts were referenced in the above article. Napoleon Hill's Thiink and Grow Rich is a classic Personal Development reference whereas his book Law of Success is less well known. Both books present different aspects of his Personal Philosophy of Success (or Achievement) and are well worth reading.
Integrated Success Program - Available Resources
The Integrated Success Program consists of an integrated set of resources, comprised of a web-site featuring the original, classic texts of classic authors, a blog site with a wealth of supporting material, a Yahoo Group and a Forum to provide forums for discussing the myriad of topics under the "Personal Development" theme.
Please feel free to leave your comments on this site (above) and make use of the other resources provided. I would sincerely love to hear from you, your opinions (Pro and Con) on my posts, thoughts, opinions and interpretations. I would love to initiate a dialogue in either or both of the forums.
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The Golden Rule is stated so simply, yet contains a wealth of wisdom.
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