Rules of Life

by gloria on December 1, 2017

Last Friday I had the unique opportunity and pleasure to hear Betty Alice Erickson speak at the monthly meeting of the Dallas Association for Marriage & Family Therapy meeting. Betty is Milton Ericson’s daughter, lives in Dallas and has a private practice here. It was so inspiring to hear phrases like “Daddy said” or “Daddy always told me”. It was almost sitting with the master therapists himself.

Milton Erickson was a psychiatrist and family therapist that taught us about the important role hypnosis plays in helping people. Erickson was skilled in utilizing anything about his clients to help them change, including their beliefs, favorite words, cultural background, personal history, and even neurotic habits.

I loved this list of “Erickson’s Rules of Life” that Betty shared with us in one of her handouts.

  • Everything we are, except physical bodies and what is “hard-wired” within comes from experiential learning. Anything learned can be unlearned or learned differently.
  • Life is hard work. People want to work, to accomplish, have meaning and tasks in their lives. We complete one task and begin on others.
  • Life is unfair. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. It’s easy to forget the unfairness we like. We’re happy to win the lottery-even though it’s not fair for others who also bought tickets.
  • Life is filled with pain. If we are alive, we will have some amount of suffering.
  • Everything in life ends. We know happiness ends and forget unhappiness does too.
  • Every choice costs. We can’t know the full cost of reward of any choice. We can only make the best decision we can. Sometime it is the “least worst of worst choices.”
  • The law of averages is usually correct. What’s usual and normal, most often occurs. Most planes arrive safely, most lottery tickets don’t win.
  • Change is the only constant. You, I, everyone, everything changes.
  • It is what’s in your head and heart that really matters. Life is rich, wonderful, filled with happiness and delight. The past cannot be changed but perceptions of the past can be changed. Humor and curiosity are very strong feelings which can change other feelings.
  • What we receive depends on merit, good and bad luck-usually a combination. No one “merits” cruel parents-or winning the lottery. The law of averages says: Work and preparation bring rewards. But sometimes it does help to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Life was made for amateurs. We are all amateurs so we all learn how to play it-effectively or not so well. The law of averages for life says: Usually start with the most simple, and always be open to the more complex.
  • The normal state of human beings is like a little child-happy, curious, fearless, loving, giving, enthusiastic, seeking independence and filled with a love of learning-the only instantly renewable pleasure in life. We must be “civilized” out of much of the childlike part-we learn to follow rules and stand in line. But if we loose touch with that joyous part of us, we loose part of our base of enjoying life.

My hope is that you will read these over and over again and take them to heart to help you in your day-to-day life.

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