9 Rules For Living A Good Life

Rules For Living A Good Life

How to live a good life? How to cope up with a crisis? How to think about your personal values? How to teach our kids what you believe about living a good life with the right values?” This blog covers all your questions!

“I’m not religious,” Lena* said to me at the beginning of her therapy session. “I’m not going to start taking my children to church or to Sunday school. But I’m not sure how to teach them about values – the kinds of values I feel like I learned in Sunday school when I was a kid.”

She was the fourth client last week who brought up this question.

Tony*, whose children are teens, put it this way. “They see and hear and read about so much that isn’t part of my belief system. I feel like my wife and I are always correcting what they get from the internet or from movies – or even from their friends and in school. How do we teach them what we believe about living a good life with the right values?”

I was thinking about this question when I read of the death of Jim Lehrer, the journalist I first knew of as one half of the MacNeil-Lehrer Report, later called the NewsHour, on PBS (Public Broadcasting System). His newscasts had been an important part of my young adult life, in part because I admired his way of looking at and presenting what was going on in the world to the rest of us.

Purpose of life
9 Rules For Living A Good Life

And this week, in one of the articles where he was remembered, I learned that Lehrer had “9 Rules for Reporters,” which solidified my admiration for the man – and provided me with a list to share with my clients struggling to teach their children about values.

I was struck by how many of his rules also apply to my work as a psychotherapist, both in terms of what I try to teach new therapists as they enter this profession, and also what I hope that clients will take away from our work together.

In essence, I think we could also call these Lehrer’s 9 Rules For Living a Good Life.

I share those rules, quoted directly from the article by Anne Azzi Davenport and Jeffrey Brown, here, with some of my thoughts about how they might help you think about your own values — and teach them to your children.

Here are 9 rules for living a good life:

1. “Do Nothing I Cannot Defend.”

A client told me recently that he lives by the rule, “If I’m not going to be proud of it, I’m not going to do it.” He wasn’t speaking of accomplishments, something that he could show off to other people.

As he explained what he meant, he added, “I won’t do anything that I wouldn’t tell my children about. It’s a way that I have of checking with myself to make sure that my behavior is in line with my personal values – every step of the way.”

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination – Carl Rogers

stay true to yourself
9 Rules For Living A Good Life

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2. “Cover, Write And Present Every Story With The Care I Would Want If The Story Were About Me.”

Of course, in life, we’re not writing and presenting news; but we often talk about other people, whether we’re gossiping or simply sharing information.

Applying this rule to life simply means being as careful about what we say about other people as we are about what we say about ourselves. Or to put it another way, we are as careful about what we say about others as we’d like them to be about what they say about us.

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F. Diane Barth

F. Diane Barth, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. She has a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Social Work and analytic certification from the Psychoanalytic Institute of the Postgraduate Center. She has been on the faculty and supervisory staff and a training analyst at Postgraduate, NIP, and ICP in NYC. Currently, she teaches private study groups and often runs workshops around the country. Ms. Barth’s articles have been published in the Clinical Social Work Journal, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, Psychoanalytic Psychology, and other professional journals, and as chapters in a number of books. Her new book about women's friendships, I Know How You Feel: The Joy and Heartbreak of Friendship in Women's Lives ​was released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February 2018.View Author posts