The golden rule is to treat other people as you yourself would like to be treated. It seems like that would be a fairly simple rule to follow, don’t you think?
We teach the golden rule to children who have just started school – it should be easy for an adult to follow it. Apparently not, although to be fair, adults tend to ignore quite a lot of things they were taught as children.
How many times have you heard of people yelling at retail workers for daring to be out of stock on an item of clothing? How many times have you seen people honking at other cars, seemingly for just being there?
Some people have even named a particular haircut as being an indication of trouble. That assumption (and any subsequent judgements) comes with its own problems, but you see the problem. The golden rule is not applied as thoroughly or effectively as it should be.
If you try to use the golden rule in your own life, you will most likely see a difference almost instantly. People do respond to kindness and empathy, even if we are told every day that being mean gets results.
1. Be kind to staff.
I know that 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, but resist! Remember the golden rule, and remember that these people often have no more control over the issue than you.
Say you find yourself in a situation – say you are in line for the train – where things have been delayed, and everyone will be late. Many people would turn to the station staff, and make demands of them, or simply vent their frustrations on them. This is a reaction which is understandable – we want things to run on time, and so we turn to the people who are in positions of authority.
The golden rule would tell you to take a breath and remember that insulting people and making demands will get you nowhere. 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.
Remember the golden rule: would you like to be insulted and demeaned due to circumstances beyond your own control? Be nice to them; they are doing their best.
2. Be kind to strangers.
There are columns and features and complaints seemingly everywhere concerning the inconvenience of air travel. This is at a time when travelling by plane is becoming ever more popular, too. So many people seem to take it as a personal affront to have to put up with strangers near them for prolonged periods of time.
Remember this simple fact: travelling isn’t fun for anyone, especially long-term travel. Apply the golden rule to every interaction with the people around you. You would most likely want people to remember that you are likely tired, uncomfortable, cramped, and stressed – extend them the same courtesy.
This is particularly important when it comes to adults who are travelling with children. Think how uncomfortable and inconvenient travelling is when you are an adult. How do you think the child feels?
3. 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.
It can be easy to get frustrated in all of these situations, but remember the golden rule! When someone is ill, it can be very hard – especially if that illness means that people now have to drive out of their way to visit, or need to make time to clear their house out, or need to make arrangements for in-home care, as well as all their normal responsibilities.
If this was you, and it was your family member who needed care and your family member who you wanted to visit, then you would want compassion and understanding from your family. The same is true of other people: they will want understanding and compassion from you in turn.
4. 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.
Following the golden rule should be one of the easiest things in the world. Unfortunately, we tend to be far less forgiving of quirks in some people than we do in others, which can lead to situations of screaming at retail workers and resenting our closest family members.
Following the golden rule would most likely make the world an easier place to live in for everyone. We would all be much happier if we were treated properly, and also most likely feel better for treating others properly too.