Glossary of Lessons: Ten Rules for Being Human

I created this handy glossary in case you get curious about the lessons identified in my Ten Rules post. These definitions/explanations are my own and will be explored in future posts (so don’t get too hung up on the details!).

A stack of black-covered notebooks with three apples sitting on top, and a few pieces of chalk and red-handled scissors next to them.

I created this handy glossary in case you get curious about the lessons identified in my Ten Rules post. These definitions/explanations are my own and will be explored in future posts (so don’t get too hung up on the details!).

Abundance is just as much about your mindset as it is about measuring it in terms of what you possess or own. You may overlook all you have, constantly wanting more, thinking that if you had more you’d be happier. This is actually a scarcity mindset, where you believe/feel you don’t have enough of something (money). But an abundant mindset is about appreciating what you already have and knowing that you have access to all that you need. 

Acceptance is when you believe that something just is and you’re unable or not willing to change it. Acceptance of someone else’s choices is one example, acceptance of yourself (your body, what you look like, etc.) is another. If acceptance is not the aim, then seek to make changes from a place of love rather than inadequacy or lack.

Adventure or to be adventurous is to be open to new experiences; to continually push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things, visit new places, and/or meet new people. Some people are innately adventurous, while others learn to become adventurous by being open to new experiences, even though they may be reluctant at first to try new things.

Antique map of the world with a compass on the right hand side of the picture.

Awareness means being attuned to the “hows/whys” of your behavior and your surroundings. It’s an understanding of how you view yourself in relation to others, and how others view you. Awareness is about being conscious of your behavior, and attempting to fix negative ones that lead to unhealthy patterns.

Causality is the ability to recognize the cause-effect relationships in life; that your choices affect the course of your life and those around you. It’s about knowing that you’re a responsible actor, and not a victim of circumstances.

Choice is when you make decisions about what you want, what you think/feel, and what you do. It’s about selecting from many options. Sometimes choices are made on our behalf or we believe that they’re limited given our views and/or life circumstances. But we always have choice, at least in how we view a situation if not in preventing it.

Clarity is gained when you’re able to identify the “hows/whys” of your behavior. Those “a-ha!” moments can occur during times of reflection and/or when you’re seeking understanding through interactions with others.

Commitment means that you’ve made the decision to do something or support another, no matter what happens. It’s about sticking it out even when things get uncomfortable, as long as you’re not in danger and haven’t put anyone else in danger.

Compassion is about opening your heart to others and having sympathy for them, or their situation, and trying to alleviate their suffering.

Courage means to be brave enough to go after what you want; to take the initial steps toward a goal; stand up for the underdog, and/or voice an unpopular opinion. Courage doesn’t mean that you’re not fearful, it’s about taking actions despite your fears.

Ethics is about having a moral code you live by. It’s about knowing right from wrong, and being consistent in its application. An ethical code isn’t universal and can vary across societies, cultures, and groups.

Fairness is an expectation of equity. It’s the idea that equality exists and that justice will prevail. When you judge something as unfair, it can leave you angry and bitter, potentially changing your perspective on life.

Faith is having confidence in something or someone without tangible proof. Sometimes, your faith is restored after you see proof. Other times, you possess unshakeable faith without needing proof. Faith in the existence of a higher being (God) is one example.

Flexibility is about being open to change; to be adaptable and not have a fixed mentality. Being flexible means that you’re open to changing your viewpoint based on new information, or being open to a change in plans when things don’t go exactly as you want or anticipate.

Forgiveness means letting go of past hurts and grudges. It’s about moving forward without holding someone responsible for your pain and suffering. Forgiving yourself for past mistakes is just as important as forgiving another person. Forgiveness is not about letting someone off the hook for hurting you, it’s about not carrying the weight of that anger and pain, and moving past the mentality of victimhood.

Grace, in the spiritual sense, is the faith that we’re guided by an internal compass; that we’re protected by the Almighty. It shows that you’re attuned to the ebb and flow of life and that you understand that life has a deeper meaning than what we experience in the physical sense.

Gratitude is about appreciating your life, what you have, the people in it, and all that’s available to you. Often, you find yourself wanting more without being grateful for what you already have. You might engage in “if-then” thinking: If I had more money, then I’d be happy. But it’s in acknowledging and giving thanks for what you have now that increases your potential for having more.

"Thank you" spelled out in multi-color pastel blocks, situated on a wooden surface.

Healing, in the mental/emotional sense, is achieving well-being or feeling whole. This can be accomplished through understanding, clarity, forgiveness, acceptance, etc. It can occur during therapy sessions and/or be initiated by your willingness to change your perspective and/or circumstances so that you’re no longer plagued by past hurts. Sometimes healing seems unachievable, and in these instances, it’s about the process and your willingness to heal that helps you become whole.

Humility means having a strong sense of who you are and what you’re capable of, in addition to acknowledging your limitations. Someone who doesn’t possess humility can often be taught painful life lessons that can help him/her develop a healthier sense of who they are in relation to others.

Humor is not only about being funny, but it’s also about possessing levity about life’s circumstances and not taking things too seriously. A good sense of humor can help you cope more effectively with negative experiences, and with what life throws your way.

Inspiration can be drawn from many sources, and include pursuing a goal that excites you, no matter how many people tell you that it won’t work. Inspiration can help you persevere when you face challenges. You can be inspired by other people, a challenging experience, or an idea you’re passionate about.

Limitlessness is about knowing that your only limits are the ones that you impose upon yourself. To be limitless is to know that there are no boundaries and that you can achieve more than you believe. Socialization does a great job of hampering your perception of limitlessness and can lead to a myopic view of what you’re capable of being and becoming.

Listening is not merely about hearing what someone is saying, it’s about focusing actively on what is being said – verbally and nonverbally. Most of the time, you’re thinking about how to respond when someone is speaking to you, so you tend to miss a lot of what’s being communicated. When you engage in active listening, you notice that you’ve actually expended some energy doing something.

Sculpture of two males with their ears against a brick wall, actively listening.

Openness is the ability to withhold judgment and be receptive to people and experiences that you normally wouldn’t seek out. It’s about not having a fixed attitude toward someone or something, and maintaining an objective attitude that enables you to change your views if warranted.

Patience is about toleration, whether with yourself when you’re trying to improve your life (exercise), waiting to hear about a decision (job offer), or dealing with someone who challenges you (boss, spouse, neighbor). Patience includes a willingness to suspend judgments about yourself and others, a willingness to improve, and compassion for yourself and others.

Peace is a state of mind achieved by being present, which then provides the calm and tranquility of focusing on the here and now. When you reflect on the past, you tend to criticize yourself and others, which brings up negative feelings. When you focus on the future, you increase your anxiety by thinking about worst-case scenarios that could lead to your ruin. But when you focus on the present – what’s right in front of you – you’re able to push out anxiety and worry.

Pleasure is gaining or deriving good feelings from something or someone via sensory experiences (smelling fresh roses, seeing a beautiful sunset, being caressed/hugged, eating a delicious meal, etc.). It’s about enjoying yourself and helping others do the same.

Power is more than having physical strength, it’s about the mental/emotional toughness that’s borne of painful experiences, which should be viewed as lessons to build your inner resolve and grit. Sometimes, you don’t understand how powerful you are until you face adversity or have to help another through a difficult situation.

Release is simply about letting go. It’s not about sticking your head in the sand and shirking responsibility; it’s about making the conscious decision to release a past hurt or walk away from a bad relationship. When you find it difficult to forgive someone, you’re holding on to the pain. When you’re forced to let go of something or someone, you’re not releasing, you’re resisting. When you choose to release, you’re making a conscious decision to do so.

Black-and-white silhouette of two female hands releasing a dove.

Respect is about having regard for your worth, someone else’s, and/or something. It may not always translate as liking someone or something, it’s more to do with acknowledging their value. You can have respect for others, but lack respect for yourself, your needs and wants. Sometimes you may not even recognize that you lack respect for yourself.

Responsibility means acknowledging your role in a situation or being held accountable for your behavior. Sometimes, people blame others for their situation(s) and fail to recognize their role, perpetuating a mentality of victimhood. Sometimes, people take all the responsibility for a situation involving other people, assuming that everything is their fault. To take responsibility doesn’t mean to absolve others of their part, it’s about viewing your circumstance from an objective perspective and taking ownership of what you need to change or do differently (apologize, forgive, and move forward).

Self-esteem is about feeling worthy and being confident in who you are and what you’re capable of achieving. Self-esteem can be based on an internal sense of well-being and capacity, or derived from external sources. Some people base their self-esteem on what others think of them, while others possess high self-esteem regardless of what others think of them.

Support is about helping others, especially during challenging times. It’s about being a source of strength for those you love. In supporting others, you’re also helping yourself. When you think of the people who support you, it should fill you with love and gratitude. In social support networks, there is an unspoken rule of reciprocity, where people are expected to give and get help.

Surrender means to let go of control, knowing that when you put forth the effort to do something, you don’t have to worry about the “hows/whys” of your decision(s) and/or the outcome(s). Often, it’s the opposite of resistance such as resisting to change your views of others and circumstances.

A kitten lying down with its paws in the air.

Tolerance is about exercising patience with yourself and others. Sometimes it means accepting people and things as they are. For example, you will come across people who hold different political views and disagree with them on every issue. But tolerating their views for the sake of co-existence should be the aim. This doesn’t mean you have to accept their stance or support it. It means that you agree to disagree, and choose to tolerate them without demonizing them.

Trust is mutual confidence in the integrity of another; that what she or he says is correct. Trust is also having confidence in your ability to judge right from wrong and make decisions in your best interest. Sometimes, we discount our thoughts/feelings about someone or something, especially if we can’t articulate a rational justification for why we think/feel a certain way. This can often lead us astray.

Unattachment is similar to surrendering. Often you try to control the outcome of a situation by trying to influence the process or the people involved. You may end up worrying about what will happen, and focus on how disappointed you’ll be if the outcome you’re expecting doesn’t manifest. If you keep in mind that no matter the outcome, you’ll be okay, it helps you exercise unattachment.

Willingness is the ability to want to change; to be open to seeing things from a different perspective; and/or seeking new experiences. Your willingness to change is a necessary step in doing things differently and growing as an individual. It can make the difference between living a more fulfilled life, or closing yourself off to new people and experiences and remaining stagnant.

Wisdom is gained through life’s challenges. It’s not a subject you learn in school, it’s something that you gain as a result of lessons presented throughout your life, often painful ones. When you break dysfunctional patterns and stop making the same mistakes, you’ve attained some wisdom. It’s also not the same as intelligence because wisdom encompasses mental, spiritual, and emotional progression and maturity.

Multi-color silhouette of a profile with a big, red heart at the top.