The exception rule

There can be an exception to every rule (Carefully avoiding the paradox)

The rules of the game

In every program there are rules. There are rules in regimes of exercise, mindful living, positive thinking, minimising, cleaning your house… Someone has crafted the rules. The rules may be scientifically determined, proven anecdotally or just plucked out of thin air. You can find rules in books, clubs, websites and you can make them up yourself.

In the self-improvement section of any bookstore you will see the myriad of “solutions” – which means there is no ONE way. Humans are not ultra rigid. There must be room for bending, for a gray area. As long as the general trend is towards your goal, it’s ok. This is not a license to go about life at random. And it’s not a win-all excuse. It’s simply the reality that we are not perfect.

Make it your own

As thoughtful adults we have the freedom to choose. Will I follow this program? To the letter? What can I change? What can be dropped? What works for me and my life right now? Any program should be flexible enough to bend and fit you and your lifestyle. If not, you’ll need to bend, which isn’t a sustainable solution. You can bend for a week or a month, but eventually you’ll need a break before you can go back to it.

For example, if you eat processed, fast food every day and want to become an organic vegan, take it one step at a time. Don’t take the program full on, full time. To make it permanent, flex the organic vegan lifestyle so you just eat one meal a week in the new way, or partially in the new way (maybe just organic, maybe just vegetarian). If the second week you don’t even eat one vegetarian meal, that’s an exception. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed and need to wait until Monday or New Year’s to start again. Make any exceptions you need to enhance your life.

The exception

The only exception to the exception rule is where you submit yourself to a set of rules. For example, you receive pay in return for following your employer’s demands. You reap the rights of citizenship by obeying a country’s laws. You follow the commandments of your religion for salvation. Still, it’s always your choice if you want to make an exception and take the consequences.


This week, see where making an exception to the rule will work for you. Even if the rules say you have to follow every step, go ahead and try it another way. What benefits do you gain? What are you losing and is it worth it?

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