Thou Shalt Be Josie and Other Personal Commandments

Creating Twelve Personal Commandments for My Life

In her book, The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin urges readers to create 12 Personal Commandments.  She clarified that these are not specific resolutions, but overarching principles in which we want to live our lives.  In other words, our core values.

While she took a year to create hers, these originally took me about a month, where I posted them on my tumblr blog last March.  I have turned this book into an annual read over the holidays, so  I was reminded that author Rubin encourages readers to revisit their commandments at least yearly.

The quote attached to each commandment was not only a favorite of mine, but the root of inspiration for that commandment.  And don’t get me wrong.  I am not unhappy, depressed or in a rut.  I am however a work in progress and okay with a bit of stretching

1. Be Josie 

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Do it Now

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

3. Life = Laughter & Love 

“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live”  – Johnny Depp

4. I am a Work in Progress

“Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.”  – George Bendard Shaw

5. Be Present

“Be fully in the moment, open yourself to the powerful energies dancing around you.”     – Ernest Hemingway

6. Seek Adventures

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure.  Live bravely, excitedly and imaginatively” – Eleanor Roosevelt

7. Take Care of Yourself

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” – Max Ehrmann

8. Be Generous

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  – Howard Hendricks

9. Do what you Love, Love what you Do

“Every calling is great when greatly pursued.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

10. Let it Go 

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” – C. JoyBell C.

11. The Best is Yet to Come

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

12. Employ an Entourage

“Surround yourself with people that are going to lift you higher.”  – Oprah Winfrey

So how do you come up with your own list?  Gretchen spells this out on a recent blog post at

1.  Consider phrases that have stuck with you. Hence my use of quotes.

2. Aim high and fight the urge to be too comprehensive.  These are not meant to be created and left in a notebook.  Look at them daily and by making them short to help you remember them!

3. Think about what’s true for you.  You are unique, your list will be different than mine.  One example Gretch used was, “One person’s commandment is to “Say yes,” another person’s commandment is to “Say no.”  You need to think about yourself, your values, your strengths and weaknesses, your interests.”  I was torn on making one commandment to be Say Yes or No, because in some situations I need to say NO way more, but in others I really need to say YES.

Curious what the authors’ commandments are?  I have listed them below.

  • Be Gretchen
  • Let it go
  • Act the way I want to feel
  • Do it now
  • Be polite and be fair
  • Enjoy the process
  • Spend Out
  • Identify the problem
  • Lighten up
  • Do what ought to be done
  • No calculation
  • There is only love
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