If you haven’t read my review of Humankind, A Hopeful History, then go check it out here – but finish reading this first. Today I’ll be looking at rules to live by according to Rutger Bregman.

Any endeavour that we undertake has life lessons for us. From the smallest act to long projects like researching and writing a history book.

Why Rules To Live By?

I know that we all have rules for life. Everyone does. Yet we may not be able to rattle out our list when asked. No problem.

That’s why I love to look at other people’s lists; so that I can get clarity on what my own rules are, and possibly pinch one or two rules that someone else has articulated really well.
(I’m also nosy and curious about people and what they think. That’s also why I look)

Humankind gave me a lot of hope – and confronted me with how much of the myth about human beings I still carried. That myth? That we are fundamentally bad and need to fight our own nature to be good.

That’s why I’m sharing the 10 rules for life that Rutger came up with for himself while working on this book.

Peek into his mind, pinch any that catch your eye, and maybe make a list of your own.

10 Rules To Live By

No. 1: When in doubt, assume the best

I like to think I live by this but I know that I sometimes jump to unflattering conclusions – that don’t honour me or the other person. But it’s one I strive for. and I’m only counting the times when I assume the best. I’m not even doing percentages, just counting absolute numbers. Let’s see how high I can get to.

No. 2: Think in win-win scenarios

No. 3: Ask more questions

A big fat YES! unsurprising as basically that describes my job in a nutshell. But this applies to so many things from viral news stories* to when you ask how someone is (ask follow up questions) and so much more

*is it really true? is the source reliable? has it been validated by anyone else? who is telling it and what’s their motivation etc

No. 4: Temper your empathy, train your compassion

What? Less empathy? But we are all being taught to access our empathy.
It’s definitely worth reading his book for this bit alone, but let me share an example he gave:
“..your child is afraid of the dark. As a parent you’re not going to crouch in a corner… and whimper alongside your child (empathy – because you are letting yourself feel what they feel). Rather, you try to calm and comfort them (compassion).

What I take away from this rule is: if you want to have a positive impact on people and their situation, have more compassion. Don’t get lost in the empathy only.

No. 5: Try to understand the other, even if you don’t get where they are coming from

No. 6: Love your own as others love their own

I think the most important part from this one is the recognition that “others love their own”.

No. 7: Avoid the news

Avoid the news?
The news is skewed to the negative. It makes us think that nothing good happens. It’s why John Krasinski started SGN – Some Good News from his home during the lockdown. We need to hear about the good happening in the world too. Have you soon it? I love it.

No. 8: Don’t punch Nazis

There’s a really cool story attached to this one. Go on, read the book. I don’t want to spoil it for you.

No. 9: Come out of the closet: don’t be ashamed to do good

No. 10: Be realistic

The meaning of this has been quite a cynical one until now. It’s implied that you shouldn’t expect the best, that people might let you down, that they might be selfish etc.
Yet we have far more examples of people doing good, than of people being unkind/mean etc. It’s just that the bad stuff gets noticed more. So be realistic: be aware and look for the good.

Over to you

Which ones resonated? Which ones had you puzzling or saying no way? What are your rules to live by?

Share them. I’d love to know.

Humankind is available on bol.com and amazon.nl

This post is part of my Book Club Series where I share what I’m reading with you. I’m highlighting the “oh my god, you’ve got to read this!” books. These are the ones that I’ve been recommending to clients, friends, and anyone I’ve spoken to while reading the book. I have even been known to buy extra copies and given them to people. These books are great.