7 Cardinal Rules For Life

I’m one of those people that tend to post a lot of inspirational quotes and memes on my Facebook page. If you know me, you know that I’m not posting them as a veil, I really am that annoyingly optimistic and positive. Not only do I put them out there for others to enjoy but I feel like the messages tend to stick a bit harder when I take the time to post them. The other day I posted a meme called “7 Cardinal Rules For Life” and it seemed to really resonate with my followers. So I decided to write a piece about how I employ each of these cardinal rules in my own life. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you to live by them as well!

My 7 Cardinal Rules For Life

1. Make peace with your past, so it won’t disturb your present.

How many times have the shitty things that happened to you in your past affected a present day decision? Trust issues, fear of commitment, neediness, insecurities, resentment, passive aggressiveness… they all stem from the past and trample all over your future.

If you’ve had a “rough life” or a “rough childhood” you are not alone. The majority of us have had fucked up pasts, in fact if you’ve sailed through without a scratch—you, my friend, are in a lucky minority.

People who have heard even just bits and pieces of my story have asked me, “How are you not a drug addict/prostitute/loser/etc??” It’s one of my personal rules for life: I refuse to be. I refuse to let what happened to me in the past dictate my future. I’ve made peace with my past, because it wasn’t something I could control, or I can’t change now, but I can certainly control what I do in the present.

2. What other people think of you is none of your business.

Ohhh, myyy gaaawwwd. How awful is it when you know someone doesn’t like you and you don’t know why? Or when someone thinks all these awful things about you that aren’t true? Obviously, you want to set them straight!

That’s not your job. Their thoughts aren’t your concern. Yes, other people’s opinion of you can certainly prevent you from moving forward if they’re in a position of power, but if you’re doing what you need to do for you and you like yourself—well, then their opinion doesn’t matter then, does it?

When I was 15, I would walk the halls of my high school where people would scream terms of endearment such as, “Whore!” and “Slut!” at me. I was a virgin, so I knew what they were saying was false and I didn’t care. Not caring what others think about me is an essential one of my rules for life.

It also took me close to 20 years for my own family to see me for who I really am. My own family. I can’t even begin to describe the hurt and pain that entails. I have an undying dedication to being me, to being real. I never wanted to “fake my way” and bullshit people. I decided that being me is who I am, and others will eventually see what’s in my heart, I just have to keep being consistent.

Other people’s thoughts about you are a reflection of them, not you.

3. Time heals almost everything. Give it time.

When they said, “time heals all wounds” they weren’t kidding. While time doesn’t necessarily make the wound go away, it makes it easier to live with the scars. Not only does time put distance between you and whatever happened, but it also allows you to work on yourself in the process.

Time is a beautiful thing. Pain dissipates over time, so does anger.

One of the points the things I’ve realized is that whatever you think matters now, or is terrible now, won’t matter as much—if at all—later. Problems can seem like the end of the world when you’re young (and when you’re older), almost always you look back and think, “Hmm, that doesn’t matter to me at all now.”

4. No one is in charge of your happiness, except you.

YES. Yes, yes, yes! Rules for Life 101: YOU are responsible for the choices you make and, therefore, your own happiness.

The guy you’re dating that makes you miserable? You chose to date him, you choose to stay.

The job you hate? You are choosing not to create a different opportunity for yourself.

The body you wish you had. You choose to make excuses for yourself and not put in the work required.

Anything that makes you unhappy is essentially within your control. If it’s a person, you can choose to be free of them. Or, you can forgive them. Besides, forgiveness does more for you than for them. You always have a choice. 

I used to blame everyone else for being miserable. I blamed my relationships. I blamed the situations I was put in. Then I realized that my attitude towards these people and situations were what was making me miserable. So, I started to see the best in everyone and every situation. They didn’t change, I did and so did my happiness level.

5. Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

There will always be someone better, smarter, prettier and more successful than you. Conversely, there will always be someone you are better than, smarter than, prettier than and more successful than. It’s the way of the world. Stop giving a shit about what someone else is doing. Maybe they have the job or relationship you want. You could have done everything exactly the same as them and everything could turn out completely different. They aren’t you. You aren’t them. The moment you stop comparing yourself to and being jealous of others and accept where you are in life is the moment you will begin to be happy with where you are and what you have.

Judging others needs to freaking stop, too. I used to look down my nose as though I was standing on such high moral ground, then it came to my turn to put on some morally questionable shoes and walk a few thousand miles. I was lost, but I eventually found my way. Having had that experience, I now view others through completely different lenses. Maybe what someone is doing is wrong (my rules for life mainly define wrong by directly hurting/screwing over other people) or maybe you just don’t approve. You can help them find their way, sure, but not by judging them. Just be there for them, letting them know that while it’s not something you would do personally, you can understand their situation and are there to help, or lend an ear should they need it.

6. Stop thinking too much. It’s alright to not know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.

99% of the time my brain is like a runaway train, firing at all cylinders (do trains have cylinders? Probably not…). I never stop thinking. Logically, we tell ourselves that if we scour every edge of our brains, the answer will come forth.


I can’t tell you how many times an answer comes to me when I’m not thinking. At 3 a.m. just as I’m about to close my eyes and fall asleep. In the middle of a conversation with someone who says something that triggers it or while reading an article that has nothing to do with it. Great TV minds like Dr. House and Harvey from Suits always get their epiphanies when they’re talking to someone random, rather than racking their brains for an answer.

Don’t think so hard, let life happen and the answer will come.

7. Smile. You don’t own all the problems in the world.

It’s so easy to be down when the world seems like such a dark place. Sometimes, it seems that the effort we make personally barely makes an impact or even a tiny dent. You can’t think that way.

Being the best version of you makes more of an impact than you will ever realize, which probably makes this the most important of the rules for life. Smiling is contagious and smiling is proven to psychologically invoke feelings of happiness. So, smile a lot—even when you’re alone—you’ll start to see a major difference in the world around you.

Do you agree with these rules? What rules for life do you think you need to work on?

Image credit: Shutterstock

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Chrystal Rose
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