What you should be doing can get in the way of what you could be doing, and steal the joy from what you are doing. These shoulds come from the unquestioned but relative truths passed from generation to generation. Unlike objective truths such as ‘fire burns and knives cut’, relative truths such as ‘you must get a degree, a good job, then marry and have kids’, come from the culture, religion and the society we live and exist in.
Questioning all your shoulds isn’t required to live a safe and comfortable life, but blindly following all of them is unlikely to lead to a life that resonates deeply with your unique passions, talents, and desires. To create and live such a life, you have to sort out the shoulds that serve you and those that don’t.
So—which to keep and which to discard? Start by uncovering the shoulds you are aware of or become aware of. The list of ‘whys’ I suggested you compile in my last blog can be a place to start. If you’re stuck, you can start with this list of common shoulds, or Brules (for Bull***t Rules), that Vishen Lakhiani lists in The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, his book which inspires many of the concepts and insights in this series of blogs.
Vishen’s Common Brules:
Get a degree
Follow your cultural norms (what to eat, how to act, how to dress, whom to marry, etc.)
Adopt and practice your parent’s religion
Work hard for what you want
These are but by no mean all of the Brules, or shoulds, that shape our decisions and our lives, nor are these universal, but, they are a good place to start.
To decide which ones to keep and which to toss, the simplest test is to ask:
1. Do they come from your culture and society, or from your heart?
2. Do they come from your own or the dominant religion in your culture, or from your soul?
3. Do they come from social contagion, or from choice?
4. Do they increase and support your happiness?
5. Do they increase and support the greater and common good?
6. Do they align with the golden rule (do unto others as you would have do unto you)?
If they come from the culture around you, or don’t support your happiness or the common good, or don’t follow the golden rule, they are probably worth questioning.
Once you start naming and questioning the previous truths in your life, your world will open and expand. Suddenly it will be up to you to choose how you want to live, learn, love, and grow. This can be a bit scary, but that’s the point—the most satisfying, fulfilling and worthwhile lives are lived just beyond what’s comfortable.
Seeing your shoulds opens the door to would, could and can. Contact me to schedule a conversation to explore what’s possible and how to go about choosing and creating the rules you want to live by to create your own Extraordinary Life.