The Golden Rule
(4/2014) April 24, 2014 has been labeled ‘Pay it Forward’ Day. It is based on the expression, Pay it Forward, which can be described as the action of an individual in repaying a good deed to someone else, instead of to the original benefactor. This concept was the major theme of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel, Pay It Forward, which was then
made into a movie with the same title in 2000 starring Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, and Kevin Spacey.
This idea of ‘Paying it Forward,’ is a concept which many could say relates to the Golden Rule. The ‘Golden Rule,’ is a phrase that was coined in the mid-1600s (www.iep.utm.edu/goldrule), which states that you should "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The concept of the ‘Golden Rule’ can be explained from many
perspectives, including psychology, philosophy, sociology and religion. As a concept, the Golden Rule has a history that long predates the term ‘Golden Rule.’ The Golden Rule concept can be found throughout antiquity in the philosophies and religions of China, Egypt, Greece, Persia, Rome, and India.
Some examples in ancient China include Confucianism and Taoism. Confucius has been quoted to have said: "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself." Lao-tzu wrote in Chapter 49 of the Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchell: "The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He
is good to the good; he is also good to those who are not good. This is true goodness. He trusts those who are trustworthy. He also trusts those who are not trustworthy. This is true trust." Also, Lao-tzu has been quoted to have said: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss."
In ancient Greece, Socrates, in Plato’s Republic said: "...it has been shown that to injure anyone is never just anywhere." In the Bible, it is written: Do to others what you want them to do to you. This is the meaning of the Law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets (Matthew 7:12).
Then in more modern times, there is even more evidence of the concept of doing good for others, not just for those who have been good to you.
• "Be the change you want to see in the world." Gandhi
• "A life lived for others, is the only life worth living." Albert Einstein
• "If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one." Mother Teresa
"Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy." Thomas Merton
Finally, the Golden Rule in general actually serves as a motivation toward proactive action. As Dr. Frank Crane put it, "The Golden Rule is of no use to you whatsoever unless you realize that it's your move!"
So how can each one of take a step toward putting the ‘Pay it Forward’ or ‘Golden Rule’ into action? Here are a few practical tips:
Practice empathy. Try placing yourself into the shoes of another person. What is it like to be that person and what they are going through? What may cause them to do what they do?
Practice compassion. When you can understand and empathize with a person, what could you do to lighten their suffering?
Practice gratitude. Try being thankful for where you are in your life. There are no accidents. There are lessons to be learned from every situation. Can you learn to appreciate the value of your life? This can have a positive impact on people that you interact with.
Practice listening. We all want to be listened to. So, take the time to actively listen to another person. Rather than jumping in with your own thoughts, pause, the other person usually has more to say. This can go a long way to really understanding the other person.
Practice loving yourself. As Lucille Ball once said: "Love yourself first and everything falls into line." If you cannot love yourself, how can you love others? To learn to love yourself more, eliminate self-criticism, acknowledge that you’ve done your best at things, be kind and positive to yourself, let go of worry, and forgive yourself
(leave the guilt and shame behind).
Be the change. Follow Gandhi’s famous quote from above. It is applies on all levels – from small scale to large scale changes. Do you want people to treat each other with more compassion, understanding, and loving kindness? Then let it begin with each one of us. The world will change!
Notice how it makes you feel. Notice how your actions affect others, and also begin to notice how you feel about yourself. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself happier, more content, and more trusting of yourself.
Say a prayer. There is a prayer on the Golden Rule, attributed to Eusebius of Caesarea (263 – 339 CE) that would be worth saying once a day. It includes the following lines, among others: "May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent. May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other. May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary help
to my friends and to all who are in need. May I never fail a friend in trouble."
So make every day a ‘Pay it Forward’ Day!
Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist, physical therapist, and Reiki Master with over 20 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg, PA. She can be reached at 717-752-5728.