If you want someone to laugh with, care about, and be there for you, then you need to do this for other people. Why then, is this so difficult for people to grasp? After all, if everyone lived by this rule, there would be no conflict or hurt feelings between friends.
One possible reason is that people don’t always know how to treat themselves, and as a result treat others poorly as well. Perhaps they had a hard time with self-esteem or did not receive the unconditional love that every child should have. Learning the Golden Rule as an adult may take some time in that case, and a friendship or two may end because of poor behavior. When the person realizes what it takes to be a true friend, his or her behavior changes and strong friendships can be built.
Another reason people ignore the golden rule is that they don’t see the benefit in “giving” to someone else.They view generosity of spirit as an emotional cost that they don’t feel will ever be returned. Folks like these often want to be on the receiving end of the Golden Rule but don’t reciprocate.
- Be kind to staff.It can be very frustrating when things are going slowly, and you need to get places. The temptation to take your frustrations out on the people around you can be very strong.Remember that these people often have no more control over the issue than you.The staff are most likely doing everything they can to ensure that things get back to normal. More than that, they most likely have absolutely nothing to do with the delays.
- Practice empathy. Make it a habit to try to place yourself in the shoes of another person. Any person. Loved ones, co-workers, people you meet on the street.
- Practice compassion. Once you can understand another person, and feel what they’re going through, learn to want to end their suffering. And when you can, take even a small action to somehow ease their suffering in some way.
- How would you want to be treated? You should try to imagine how they want to be treated, and do that. So when you put yourself in their shoes, ask yourself how you think they want to be treated. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were in their situation.
- Be friendly. When in doubt, follow this tip. It’s usually safe to be friendly towards others.
- Be helpful. This is probably one of the weaknesses of our society. Sure, there are many people who go out of their way to be helpful.
- Be courteous in traffic. Another weakness of our society. There are few times when we are as selfish as when we’re driving. We don’t want to give up the right of way, we cut people off, we honk and curse. Perhaps it’s the isolation of the automobile.
- Listen to others. Another weakness: we all want to talk, but very few of us want to listen. And yet, we all want to be listened to. So take the time to actually listen to another person, rather than just wait your turn to talk. It’ll also go a long way to helping you understand others.
- Overcome prejudice. We all have our prejudices, whether it’s based on skin color, attractiveness, height, age, gender … it’s human nature.But try to see each person as an individual human being, with different backgrounds and needs and dreams. And try to see the commonalities between you and that person, despite your differences.
- Stop criticism. We all have a tendency to criticize others, whether it’s people we know or people we see on television. However, ask yourself if you would like to be criticized in that person’s situation. The answer is almost always “no”. So hold back your criticism, and instead learn to interact with others in a positive way.
- Don’t control others. It’s also rare that people want to be controlled. Trust me. So don’t do it. This is a difficult thing, especially if we are conditioned to control people. But when you get the urge to control, put yourself in that person’s shoes. You would want freedom and autonomy and trust, wouldn’t you? Give that to others then.
- Be a child. The urge to control and criticize is especially strong when we are adults dealing with children. In some cases, it’s necessary, of course: you don’t want the child to hurt himself, for example. But in most cases, it’s not. Put yourself in the shoes of that child. Remember what it was like to be a child, and to be criticized and controlled. You probably didn’t like it. How would you want to be treated if you were that child?
- Send yourself a reminder. Email yourself a daily reminder (use Google Calendar or memotome.com, for example) to live your life by the Golden Rule, so you don’t forget.
- Tie a string to your finger. Or give yourself some other reminder throughout the day so that you don’t forget to follow the Golden Rule in all interactions with others.
- Post it on your wall or make it your home page. The Golden Rule makes a great mantra, and a great poster.
- Rise above retaliation. We have a tendency to strike back when we’re treated badly. This is natural. Resist that urge. The Golden Rule isn’t about retaliation.
- Be the change. Gandhi famously told us to be the change we want to see in the world. Well, we often think of that quote as applying to grand changes, such as poverty and racism and violence.
- Notice how it makes you feel. Notice how your actions affect others, especially when you start to treat them with kindness, compassion, respect, trust, love. But also notice the change in yourself. Do you feel better about yourself? Happier? More secure? More willing to trust others, now that you trust yourself? These changes come slowly and in small increments, but if you pay attention, you’ll see them.
- Be kind to strangers.There are columns and features and complaints seemingly everywhere concerning the inconvenience of air travel.
- Be kind to your family.You would think that this goes without saying. There will come a time for every family where things go wrong: maybe they forgot the keys when you went on holiday, or someone is ill, or there was an unexpected snow day at school.
- Be kind to yourself.Many people don’t take this into account either. It is all too easy to be critical of ourselves, particularly in this day and age of social media. How would you like other people to treat you? You would want to be shown kindness and respect, wouldn’t you?Too often, people don’t treat themselves with the respect they deserve. They think that they haven’t done enough, or aren’t successful enough, or aren’t worthy of love. The truth of the matter is that they are enough by themselves. You are enough by yourself. Be kind to yourself.
Things like making proper introductions and maintaining good cell phone etiquette fall under the heading of social grace while listening and being empathetic falls under the Golden Rule. The difference is that social grace is the outward behavior toward a stranger, and the Golden Rule is what happens with your heart.