Has it been a rough week?
Are you frustrated?
Wrapped up in your problems?
At times like this, I try to remember Rule Number 6.
What is Rule Number 6?
The following story is from Ben and Rosamund Zander’s excellent book The Art of Possibility (I added some formatting).
Two prime ministers are sitting in a room, discussing affairs of state.
Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws.
The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.
When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?” “Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister.
“Rule Number 6 is ’Don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously.’”
“Ah, says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”
”There aren’t any.”
How to Use Rule Number 6
Think of your biggest problem. Now ask yourself these questions:
- “Is this really, truly important? Like, in the grand scheme of things?”
- “Will this matter in five years? In ten?”
- “Will worrying help?”
The answer is usually “no.” Another question:
- “If my best friend came to me with this exact problem, what would I tell him/her?”
We’re usually kinder and more rational when helping others with their problems.
Try applying Rule Number 6 when things get tough. It won’t magically fix everything, but it will provide some perspective.