The Golden Rule - 2 ways to understand it

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There are a variety of reasons why this is good advice. They key - is how we understand what exactly this means.

Brooke Gibbs, an anti-bullying educator, has a great video on this. 

In it - he talks about how treating others nicely initiates our innate feelings of reciprocity.  When people are nice - it makes us want to be nice back. Even if we are mad - it's REALLY hard to resist our instincts to mimic the behavior of others - in this case - niceness.

When I teach the golden rule, I teach it in terms of both reciprocity and as enlightened self interest.

You are not only modelling the behavior you want to see. You are also encouraging good people to want to be around you.

Even if mean people don't reciprocate - good people notice that you were not a jerk back to someone being a jerk to you. And this encourages the good people of the world - to want to help and support you - which is really helpful as life is often quite difficult and stressful and having good people on your side - makes it so much easier.

So yes - the golden rule - because enlightened self interest encourages us to manipulate people's sense of reciprocity. And yes - that sounds like a horrible reason to be good. The other reason? Being good - feels good. Triple plus good.

To learn more about how I think of and use the golden rule - get my book The Humanist Approach to Happiness - to find out what I think the true holy trinity really is.

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