The Four Rules

When I first moved to my – now former – apartment in Kashima, I cried.

Annnnnd then I did lots of other things – including putting up on my walls 4 “rules” I wanted to keep in mind for the time being.

The “rules” thing was something I started in university, when I realized it was just a lot easier for me to do what I already wanted to do when I saw the thing staring at me in big bold letters from my walls. It wasn’t intimidating or anything. Let’s call it…encouragement. Or a constant reminder.

These were the four new rules:

  1. Speak words of beauty
  2. Eat clean
  3. Listen
  4. Don’t explain yourself

They were four things that – at the time – I really wanted to work on in myself. This is a public check-in to see how I’m doing and what I’ve discovered about these “rules” so far.

Rule 1: Speak words of beauty

When I went home this year for summer vacation, my mother showed me my old Prep. (primary/ elementary) school magazine. This is where all the graduates have their pictures and cute/ funny little write-ups about their “destiny”.

You know what my destiny was?

“To kill Jumaane with her words.”

You know how people always talk about highly empathic people like they’re perfect angels just chock full of feelings??? Well I discovered early on that being highly empathic also comes with a bonus feature…of knowing very well exactly what will hurt people.

Handle (empathy) with care

Being fully aware of this my dark side, and having had one too many cases of saying things I wished with all my might I could take back, I decided to give myself a constant reminder to actively cultivate the angel in me.

And it has not actually been that hard for me, but I’ve had the fortune of being in a new place, surrounded by new people and even a new language. It’s easy to slip into old patterns when you’re back into familiar territory but all I can do is keep trying. And I’ll keep trying for the rest of my life.

Rule 2: Eat clean

This rule pre-dated my decision to become my version of ‘vegan‘. This rule was inspired purely by vanity.

I just wanted to have a nice body, that’s it. And when I came to Japan and discovered that conbini fried chicken, I decided to give myself a reminder to not indulge too often. Fortunately, this rule expanded and took on a life of its own.

I’ve never been concerned with food, and I will pretty much eat whatever people give me to eat. I ate healthy by accident, having been raised SDA.

But once I started cooking most of my meals, my relationship with food completely changed. It became my daily source of gratitude, not just because it was literally keeping me and sustaining my life. But also because I realized how much effort it takes to cook a meal EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And my parents did that for me.

Every day, our heaviest meal would be a good, balanced, home-cooked breakfast. And I’m just like…

Parents, big up yourselves. Ya’ll the real MVPs.

Rule 3: Listen

I chose this rule because, although I think I’m a pretty good listener, I realized that – very often – I listen to respond, kind of like a less-exaggerated and much less funny version of this.

Inputting my thoughts, feelings and opinions is quite literally second-nature when listening, but overall, I just want to listen more and say less.

I may be listening to say something I believe is genuinely helpful, but I think, very often, a response isn’t even required at all.

Learning when response is necessary, when judgment is relevant (or not), and when … I should just shut up and listen.

Rule 4: Don’t explain yourself


Let me explain.

This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t explain myself like I’m doing now. Of course, in a world where we all have different experiences, backgrounds and opinions, and where even the same word can have vastly different meanings … where misunderstandings and hurt feelings can drive people apart … I believe explanation is often necessary.

What I mean is I want to stop explaining mySELF.

My essence.

My being.

My presence.

There are some things about me (and everyone) that I believe need no explanation. They need no justification. They just are.

But so often I find myself explaining these things away … firstly to myself, then to others.

Why this? Why that? Why…why…why? 

My newfound answer to these questions is: BECAUSE.

Because it just is. And that’s all I need to know for now.

Do you have any life rules that you try to follow? How are you doing?


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