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Rule makers, rule breakers by Jim Aitkins

Jim Aitkins is an American writer and speaker whose observations about everyday life provide powerful lessons for personal growth. This month he considers how we can better control our frustrations from within.

I am a positive guy and, as a writer on personal development topics, I naturally gravitate toward the brighter side of life and I hope my readers do the same. But not today.

Today I would like to ask you to consider something inside of you that is happening virtually every time you get upset. When you get mad, angry or annoyed, irritated or infuriated, exasperated or aggravated, bothered, offended or hurt, I’d like to simply ask, ‘Why? Why did 
it happen?’ Obviously, it is a reaction, but specifically, why did you react that way? Consider the very likely possibility that what actually occurred 
was a simple rule violation.

Many people live their entire lives unhappy because they have maintained such a complex set of particular expectations that have so 
frequently gone unsatisfied. I like to use the word rule instead of expectation for the simple reason that rules are more frequently associated with negative consequences than expectations. And it is certainly true that, like rule violations, there are sometimes very serious mental and emotional consequences when certain 
expectations have not been met. So, let’s call them rules rather than mere expectations.

You and I have a set of internal rules that American actress Marilou Henner wrote: “Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.”

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