Knowing the principles you navigate your life by makes living consciously easier.
This year-long writing project has been a useful exercise to articulate a set of principles that support what I’m up to. We all operate with principles, but we are not always conscious of what they are. In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey defines principles as “rules or laws that are permanent, unchanging, and universal in nature.”
Some people differentiate between absolute principles, which feel more eternal and less open to debate (don’t kill), and relative principles, which are internal, more subjective, and influenced by personal values (it’s better to be vegan, because raising and killing animals for human use is wrong). However you decide to parse the notion of principles, being conscious of what yours are will help you to know when you’re living in alignment with them — and when you’re not.
In the age of the internet, most people don’t need more information. More information does not produce transformation. What most people need is to know what principles support and guide their life. Together with values and purpose, principles form a foundation for us to stand on and help us to identify a direction to move in.
Here are a few of the ones that writing a year-long blog has helped me to identify. Perhaps they will prime the pump as you think about your own.
- The more-than-human world is more than an “it;” it is a “thou.”
- Just because you don’t experience something, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because you don’t believe something doesn’t mean it isn’t true. (The converse is also true: just because you experience or believe something, doesn’t mean it is real or true.)
- Take responsibility – when things go well, and especially when they don’t.
- Integrity and consistency – do what you say, say what you do.
- Follow through on commitments; keep promises; do what say you will.
- Apologize when you fall short.
- The perfect is the enemy of the good.
- Practice makes progress.
- Control what you can (don’t worry about/try to control what you can’t).
- It’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to be wrong.
- Recognizing paradox and ambiguity is not a weakness.
- Serve with compassion and concern – for others and self.
- Everyone feels like a fraud some of the time (imposter’s syndrome) – to a certain extent, we’re all making it up.
This isn’t a complete list. I’d love to hear what have been important principles for you, or what you’re learning about the principles you want to hold to, and what helps and/or gets in the way.
We all find ourselves at times when life’s circumstances push us outside of our principles. We forget what we know. We forget what we want to align with. For example, there are times when I forget that the perfect is the enemy of the good and that practice makes progress. When that happens, I suffer, and maybe create suffering for others.
One of the benefits of the Personal Story Coach Program and the Upgrade Your Story Mastermind Group is that they help men articulate their principles, create ecosystems in which they can experiment with them, and then offer support and accountability as they practice living in alignment with them.
Alternatively, and regardless of how you identify your gender, you can work on this process on your own. Begin creating a list of principles – absolute or relative – that inform how you live your life and show up for others. Create another list of what helps you live out those principles and what gets in the way. What can you do to maximize the first list and mitigate the second.
Hit reply to this post and tell me how it’s going. Identifying the principles you live by will make a difference and help you live more consciously.
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