How to Live the Golden Rule: 15 Steps
Living The Golden Rule will improve all your relationships, here are 15 practical tips to start following it today.
- The Golden Rule means always treating other people exactly like you would want to be treated.
- Variations of The Golden Rule can be found in nearly all religions and cultures.
- Follow these 15 practical steps to start living The Golden Rule today.
The Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – is one of the most important pieces of advice that we can follow in life. It’s simple, and it has been one of the cornerstones of nearly all known religions. Still, it can be very hard to put into practice. Especially in our growingly individual-oriented world.
That said, The Golden Rule is as relevant today as it was centuries ago. It IS a rule truly worth following.
If you’re looking for some practical tips on how to live by The Golden Rule, you’ve come to the right place!
In this post, we’ll share 15 steps that will help you become a more compassionate and understanding person. Follow these steps, and soon you’ll be living by The Golden Rule without even thinking about it!
Don't just pretend to care about people, actually take an interest in them
Everyone is unique. Yes, at first it might sound like a sappy self-help slogan, but it is true.
You see, everyone you meet has a distinct story, personality, a bundle of quirks, specific strengths, and specific weaknesses. There is one single thing that everyone has in common though – they want to be understood and heard.
In a world full of noise, good listeners are extremely valued. As you learn to truly listen to another person and their story, you will see just how liked and valued you will be by that person. As you become better at listening, you will also see that you will automatically start to care about other people more. And, empathy is one of the traits of a true master.
If you learn to listen with your heart and mind, you will discover that anyone you meet is like a fascinating movie or a book.
As the superstar clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson once said – “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.”
Always be patient with people, even if you are having a bad day
This rule is super difficult to follow, but if you truly want to live The Golden Rule, patience is something that you will have to practice.
There will be days when you feel as if nothing is going your way. You are irritated, anxious, and tired.
Now, if you add a stubborn child, a slow cashier, or an annoying coworker into the mix…yes, this is hell on earth.
Instead of reacting and acting out, take days like these as a divine challenge. On bad days, try to be extra kind and patient.
At the end of the day, you will be rewarded for living The Golden Rule on a bad day. The reward? A sense of accomplishment and the growth of your mental resilience.
If you can be patient and empathic on days like these, just think of how great of a communicator you can be on a good day!
Smile at everyone you interact with - it will make their day better
Smiling is like spreading magic – you literally see how people light up just because you smile at them.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not asking you to become creepy and smile at literally everyone you meet. Instead, smile at everyone you need to communicate with. After paying the cashier, gently thank them and smile at them. You just might make their day!
Similarly, if you see someone on the street who just seems to exude happiness and confidence, smile and say it to them.
Use every day to make the world a little bit happier by sharing a smile with people!
Be a good role model for your children, and tell them that they should always treat others the way they want to be treated
A part of living The Golden Rule is passing it on. So, if you have children, make sure to teach them to treat others as great as they possibly can.
As you may know, words only go so far with children. So, you always need to lead by example as well. If you treat others badly, none of your preachings will matter. Your children will see that you are not living The Golden Rule, so they assume that your words mean nothing.
Make sure to both teach and show your kids the value of The Golden Rule!
Ignore stereotypes of people or things and don't judge a book by its cover
Stereotyping is not good for anyone involved. So, if you want to live The Golden Rule, you will want to give up on all of the stereotypes you have.
Above all, we are all human beings. Our backgrounds, races, statuses, and histories are different. Yet, in a way…we are all exactly the same. We all have our baggage, our problems, and our longing for human connection.
Try to always remember this. That arrogant Wall Street trader is probably stressed to the extreme because he tried to provide his family with the best life possible. That rude cashier is probably tired to the bone because of his constant 12-hour shifts.
The annoying crying child is probably frustrated from seeing his parents constantly fight.
We are all fighting a silent battle. Remember this the next time you are about to snap at someone seemingly “different” from you.
If you have the choice between being right or being kind, choose to be kind
Living The Golden Rule is often about taming your ego. This becomes especially obvious when you have an argument. Someone who is not interested in The Golden Rule will treat every conflict as a sort of deathmatch – there is a clear winner and a loser.
Now, when it comes to someone who lives by The Golden Rule, arguments take an entirely different shape. For followers of The Golden Rule, arguments are possibilities to become more empathic and learn how to see things from the angle of another person.
Instead of always trying to win and be right, be oriented towards solving the conflict with kindness, compassion, and an aim towards a compromise.
You will soon see all your relationships strive, even with people that have different views than you.
When talking to someone, be open and honest
We can’t take honesty for granted! It is all too easy to sugarcoat things and go for a white lie every now and then. Don’t do it!
Lying has a nasty way of becoming a habit. Years before I started living a more spiritual life, I used an occasional white lie. Over time, I started to lie about bigger things as well. It almost felt as if I wasn’t in control.
These days, I avoid lying like the plague. Even if the truth hurts, I will never hide away from it. And, guess what, all my relationships have improved. Even if I have a conflict right after speaking out, people eventually respect me for my honesty.
Make it a habit of always speaking the truth!
If someone is being treated unfairly, stand up for them
Standing up against unfairness is yet another example of living in truth. If you see that someone is being treated unfairly, speak up! Yes, it is more comfortable to step back and hope that the situation resolves itself.
Well, this is not a good idea. If you want to live according to The Golden Rule, you need to take a stand against unfairness!
Oh, and if standing up for someone causes a conflict (it probably will), try to remember my tip for effectively handling arguments – always look for the best in people and try to be kind instead of being right. Maybe the bully of the situation is going through a crisis himself? Try to be understanding of all the parties involved and you will see just how quickly the crisis will resolve.
Whatever you do, resist the temptation to be a bystander in situations where you see unfairness!
Think about how your actions (or inactions) might affect others before doing or saying something, especially if it could hurt them
People are getting increasingly individualistic, especially in Western societies. While your relationship with the self is important, you need to be aware of other people as well.
Before you do or say something, think about how it will affect those around you. Analyzing yourself like this will occasionally make you second guess yourself, but this is not a bad thing.
Give everyone a second chance
Everyone has made mistakes at some point in their lives, so why not give them another chance?
One of the biggest principles of The Golden Rule is seeing humanity in other people. You have probably made several bad mistakes during your lifetime.
Does this mean that you are a bad person and should give up on improving yourself? Of course not! Well, if you know how to forgive yourself and move on, you should also learn to do the same for others.
Value people and experiences more than material things
When you value people and experiences more than material things, you help yourself live by The Golden Rule.
Material things are fleeting – everything comes and goes. However, a human relationship built on a strong foundation can last a lifetime.
Similarly, try to invest in experiences instead of material things. You can lose everything you have, but your memories stay with you.
Meditate on compassion
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to set up an altar, light some sage, and go into a trance for 2 hours every day.
Meditating on compassion can be as simple as sparing a thought for all of humanity. Think about what we all have in common. The struggles and joys that all of us face. Just think about it for about 5 minutes each day. You can do this silently at home or while you are commuting to work.
The location and the time are not important, what matters is that you do it every day. By practicing this long-term, you will see yourself become a more compassionate and confident person.
Don't talk behind people's backs
All gossip is poison. Yes, it may feel satisfying to spread a juicy rumor in the moment, but the long-term consequences are always bad. Not only will you feel bad about yourself, but you will lose the trust of other people.
People intuitively understand that they are never safe in the presence of someone who talks about others behind their backs.
If someone has done something wrong, don’t spread rumors about it. Instead, talk to them directly and calmly explain why their actions and words were hurtful or inappropriate. Yes, it might be easier to avoid conflict and spread rumors instead. However, it never pays off in the long run.
Be open to criticism
Yes, you should always be open to other people’s good feelings towards you, but don’t forget that it is also important for you to accept your mistakes.
Our mistakes and the feedback of other people help us grow as human beings. Unfortunately, so many of us are awful at receiving feedback.
I remember when I used to get upset at almost every negative comment that came my way. But, as I have walked the spiritual path, I have learned to accept criticism and use it to become a better person.
I suggest you do the same – try to listen to what other people have to say without getting defensive or angry. What might sound like empty criticism might actually be a super useful nugget of feedback that you can use to your advantage.
Be kind to yourself
Let’s wrap things up with one of my favorite suggestions for people looking to live the golden rule – self-care.
You need to treat others well, but you need to treat yourself well too! Always take care of your mind, body, and spirit.
Occasionally, try to see yourself through the eyes of people that care for you!
Treating yourself with kindness will help you to focus on the positive things about yourself, and remind you of how special you are.
If you want to live a happy and fulfilling life, it is important that you try your best to live by The Golden Rule. It can be tough sometimes, but the benefits are definitely worth it.
Not only will you make yourself happier, but you will also make the world a better place. Plus, there are countless physical benefits of living a less stressful life.
In a nutshell, The Golden Rule is one of the cornerstones of all religions for a clear reason – it is one of the quickest ways to a spiritually fulfilling life.