If you’ve got a child between 6 and 12, print these rules off and read them as a bedtime story. Don’t question the rules, they’re like gravity. You don’t need to understand them. They just work.
Rule One - You will receive a body and a colour
They’re yours for life, so accept them. Look after your body by eating good food (most of the time) and sleeping well (always). Exercise every day. It’s the only one you’ll ever have.
Revel in whatever colour you are. Unless you’re green in which case, wrong planet dude!
Rule Two – Love is all around
The world is full of lovely people but there are a few, the haters, who make a lot of noise. Social media makes is easier than ever so spread bad stuff. If someone says something nasty take a step back and think it through. Yes, it’ll hurt. But is it really that bad? Being hated by a hater? It’s what they do. They do it to loads of people. They do it because, deep down, they actually hate themselves.
Rise above it. Stay nice. Yes, even to the haters. I know it’s hard but they actually need to be loved!
Rule Three – You are made of actual magic
You possess what’s called ‘ordinary magic’. It’s not exactly Lumos or Alohomora, but something almost as powerful – it’s your in-built ability to be super-resilient.
Ordinary magic isn’t about forcing yourself to be positive or pretending the negative isn’t there. It’s about allowing yourself to be upset, and bouncing back stronger. We all possess this magic, otherwise known as ‘time’. Time magically changes things. Eventually.
It can help if you retrain your mind to notice good things and focus your attention on them. So noticing that the sun is rising, this brekky cereal is yummy when it’s gone a bit soggy, I’m breathing.
Rule Four – Be kind
Always. It’s a happiness superpower and it’s free.
Rule Five – Be a good friend. To Yourself.
Here’s a new word for you; sonder – it means that everyone [and I mean EVERYONE] has the same insecure thoughts as you do. Everyone [and I mean EVERYONE] is riddled with self-doubt. Everyone [and I mean EVERYONE] has a nagging inner voice that keeps telling them they’re a bit of an idiot.
Notice the inner critic and start to challenge it. Start to notice when things go well. Recognise when you’ve achieved something. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Rule Six – Be a ninja of positivity
Start to notice the many things that could have gone badly, but didn’t. Here’s a question that will scramble your noggin - what hasn’t happened that you didn’t want that you haven’t celebrated?
Here’s my list for today: I woke up and didn’t have toothache. My laptop isn’t broken. I haven’t got measles. My children aren’t poorly. I haven’t just stubbed my toe, we haven’t run out of Cheerios.
What a fabulous day. None of those bad things has happened!
Rule Seven – Listen to the right people
Criticism and harsh words can really sting. And there are plenty of people who stand on the edges of life, throwing negativity around.
Never ever become one of the trolls and mud-slingers. If you haven’t got anything nice to say, then keep quiet.
And when it happens to you (which it will) rise above it. The trick is to ignore the criticism, unless it’s delivered by someone you truly respect and care for. And who cares for you too. In which case the criticism will be well intended.
Rule Eight – Life is a rollercoaster
There are highs and lows. When you’re up, your friends know who you are. When you’re down, you know who your friends are. That’s how it works.
And just because one person doesn’t seem to care for you, doesn’t mean you should forget about everyone else who does.
Rule Nine - Breathe
My research has uncovered an amazing statistic; something the media fails to report. The biggest killer in the UK, bigger than road accidents, cancer, heart attacks, falling off ladders and tripping over squirrels put together is ‘Not breathing’. It’s literally the number one killer in the UK and the biggest cause of death across the world. It’s a scandal. Yet the media fails to report it.
So breathe. And keep breathing. It’s quite important.
If it’s so important, maybe you should know how to do it?
My advice: Spend 3 minutes breathing well, 5 times a day.
Here’s how. Sit with feet on ground and straight back. Wear a small smile (and your clothes, obviously. Meditating while naked still works, but it’s embarrassing if your mum comes in). Close your eyes. It’s quick and easy, just three breaths long. Make them good breaths.
Big slow breath in.
First, breathe out while you consider how you feel right now.
Big slow breath in again.
Second out-breath is gratitude, what have you got to be grateful for right now?
Big slow breath in again.
And your 3rd breath out is how do you want to feel? Consider and choose an attitude that will work for you going forward.
BOOM! You’re back in the game.
Rule Ten – You will forget all these rules at birth
This last rule is a real bummer! You literally forget that love is all around. It slips your mind that there was no crocodile in the toilet. You actually forget how to breathe properly.
Luckily, you have a fabulous family. If someone has taken time to print these rules off and read them to you, they love you. LOADS!
Dr Andy Cope is a positive psychologist and bestselling author. His latest book Diary of a Brilliant Kid, a personal development book for 8-12s, is available now on Amazon. Find out more at www.artofbrilliance.co.uk