About Rules

About Rules
Rules are usually considered to be annoying and not a key to a successful civilization. But the history shows exact the opposite? How can rules improve lives? How can they lead to serious changes in behavior?Most of the people hate the idea of rules because they believe that rules constrict the liberty and limit the potential of happiness and of well-being. What is interesting though, is the fact that history shows the contrary. From ancient times up to nowadays, the most successful civilizations where those governed by rules. There are needed only few relevant examples to highlight this idea: Mesopotamia with Hammurabi 's Code of Laws made this civilization shine even today, Rome, with it’s laws organizing it’s people, conquered the whole known world at that time, Judaism 10 commandments (although only One really was able to live by them without breaking any - that is Jesus Christ the Son of God) changed billions of people’s lives making use of a set of rules. Why is that?

Firstly, it is important to define what a rule is and also to identify its forms. Rules are verbal expressions of contingencies, constructed under the form:" if...then..." . The rules function as an antecedent needed to trigger a certain behavior.

There are 4 types of rules:
1. The instructions represent a sequence of rules which the individual has to follow in the given order and which lead to the reaching of a certain goal.
2.The orders are rules given on a descendant way, on a hierarchical way. For this to happen, an asymmetrical power relationship is needed between the one who makes the rules and the receiver.
3.The advice represent another type of rules. The giver of the advice suggests the idea that some behaviors, if they are followed, could lead to obtaining some benefits.
4.The forth type of rules are the plans. They are a collection of rules used in a certain way to maximize the possibility of reaching a specific goal. They are more flexible than the instructions and do not guarantee the reaching of that goal.

Secondly, there are a series of advantages of using and following rules. The rules have the capacity to modify the behavior very efficiently. If one person is at a crossroads, metaphorically speaking, and the roads are totally opposed, one may follow the road which corresponds to its own rules, even though they are contrary to their emotions. The rules can also be routines which have the role of motivation, even though that person has no more cognitive and emotional resources. The influence of the rules in modifying the behavior increases if the rule is accompanied by reinforcements or penalties, if the source of the rule has high credibility. Another advantage of using and following rules lies in their function of reducing anxiety. The nowadays society is full of options, uncertainties, ambiguities. These altogether represent a great source of anxiety. The rules highlight the stimuli and the contingencies and their following induces certain emotions and states of mind, which bring order in one’s life and mind. The rules also make the lack of solutions to be more bearable. For example, in clinical depressions, when the suffering person have no solutions for an event that took place, their life can be made more bearable by helping them making a routine agenda which will keep them in motion.

Furthermore, there are a series of recommendations for those who want to use rules in order to modify a specific behavior:

- use simple and clear rules, so that they can be handled in the work memory and be therefore easily encoded and eventually re-actualized.

- specify the contingencies associated with the following or disobedience of the rule.

- sustain the rules through motorization, assistance and reinforcement.

- offer learning experiences so that the subject has the possibility to extract rules. It is well known that rules doubled by one’s own experience or by a narrative story which links the rules with daily experiences have more power than a simple chain of words.

- pay attention to the cognitive mediation through which the rule is becoming an inner reality. This means that one has to be careful if the rule is well understood. Decompose complex rules into simple sequences of rules. Present the rules with assistance, non-aggressively. Firstly create the need for the rules and only then offer them. Then emphasize the consequences.

In conclusion, a world of anarchy is not a viable solution to offer happiness or at least a peaceful life. One needs to modify his behavior and give sense to the daily life. Rules have a major impact on this and having a clear and good philosophy beneath them they could lead to expected outcomes. Nevertheless, it is important to have a critique eye in order to select the proper rules.

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