“Act by everyone, in the same manner as if you supposed yourself to be him, and him to be you.” – Hierocles, On fraternal love

This same lesson has been preached by philosophers and laymen for thousands of years. Treat the people you encounter in life just as you would like to be treated if you were in their place. The only question that really remains is why do we so often fail in this basic task?

Why do we struggle to treat others fairly, and then bemoan our misfortune when we are treated unjustly?

Why do we act coldly and rudely to others who interrupt us, or bump into us on a crowded street, and then get angered when others treat us the same?

Remember, that people tend to learn from direct “firsthand” experience first, and through secondhand knowledge only if we’re lucky. That’s an important life lesson they don’t teach in school.

If you really want to excel in life, there are two simple rules you can adopt today.

1. The Hieroclean Rule or Golden Rule you were taught as a child will always hold true. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

This simple action distinguishes you from the majority by showing others that rather than being someone with which they must compete to succeed, you are instead an ally with which they can work to achieve shared success. Follow this rule and you will prevent adversaries and gain allies.

2. Learn from other’s experience and not your own whenever possible. Listen, observe and read as much as you can about anyone in your life that has failed at any task. If you can learn from their mistakes, you may just avoid making some similar ones.

If someone offers you advice—listen. The worst outcome would be recognizing that this person is to be avoided. The more likely outcome is there will be a kernel of truth in the story. Find that kernel and you can avoid the same pain your compatriot felt in his or her own experiences.

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