Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Golden Rule

Have you ever heard of "The Golden Rule" otherwise known as "Ethic of reciprocity"? 
I've come to know the dog community as family. There are tightly knit agility, obedience, herding, and other dog sports families (local & statewide, regional, and national). It's never a surprise to me when that community comes together to help, to support, to celebrate, or to show that we care. When it is needed, there are people that organize ads and parties, teach classes,re-homes dogs that need special care, cook, clean, help take care of family & dogs, and other examples - too many to mention.
But what about the times between celebrating successes and supporting someone's challenges in life (loss, health, etc)? How do you treat the people you come in contact during a typical trial or training class in your favorite dog sport? Do you intentionally withhold compliments from someone's performance just because you don't like them, because your opinions differ on some subject, because they are having lots of success and you are jealous, or just because they have never spoken to you or give compliments to you?  Do you criticize someone because of the way their dog is trained or how they handle a particular sequence? Do you secretly feel good when someone else fails or has a bad run because of some disagreement you have with that person?
My Dad has always stressed following the Golden Rule. He has been very successful in raising some pretty talented and well adjusted kids (if I humbly do say so myself) as well as coaching some very talented teams to become the winningest college football coach. He has always stressed that you don't need any rules, except the Golden Rule (see page 74 of  _No-How Coaching_ by Jim Collison).
The Golden Rule has been described in slightly different ways, depending on the religion or culture, but basically it states that you should treat others the way they would want to be treated.
When you simplify your life and try to focus on what is good, it is easy to train yourself to treat others with respect, to be friendly and courteous even under trying situations, and to overcome prejudice. But if you find yourself in a world of negativity, excuses, time constraints, lack of patience, and stress, it's easy to find temporary feelings of power and gratification when you criticize, laugh/joke at a person's differences or point out their failures. 
There were times in the past where I deviated from the one rule in life that now keeps me grounded. While it used to take constant readjustment of my mental outlook, it's becoming easier for me to pay attention to the great things that people are doing. Even if I witness something that I don't like, I can still find a way to quickly draw something positive from it (if I know what I don't want, I most certainly know what I do want) and then focus on that.
The amazing thing about living the "Golden Rule" is that it brings more happiness and joy into your own life - as well as bringing joy into others.


  1. ahhhh, the Golden Rule...certainly something I try to live by!

  2. Thanks for sharing this Nancy. Its inspirational to realize that others have similar struggles and also find that its infinitely more satisfying in life to find the positive than to wallow in the negative even though moment by moment it takes effort to do so.

  3. I think the other aspect of negativity that folks just don't seem to "get" is that it's really unhealthy. All that negative energy constantly weighing stress on the intellect, emotion and body really takes a toll over time. I have never understood why people "choose" to be so negative - for surely it is a choice:>) I choose bouncing border collies and good positive friends! Doesn't get much better than that - well, maybe some ice cream on a hot day - like today!