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The Golden Rule

"Treat others as you would like others to treat you." Numerous cultures and religious traditions espouse this adage. In 2001, the English academic philosopher Simon Blackburn even wrote that the Golden Rule can be “found in some form in almost every ethical tradition.” Given its widely shared sentiment, how does one follow the Golden Rule? How do you go about treating others in the way you would want to be treated?

  1. Exercise patience. When desiring to care for others and do well by them, being able to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset can go a long way. But how does one do this? Take deep breaths, listen more than you usually would, and try to see the situation from the other person's perspective. More on that in the next bullet point.

  2. Exhibit empathy. To improve your ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, ask clarifying questions, attempt to make connections between your experiences and theirs, and, when applicable, normalize feelings and experiences shared.

  3. Exude compassion. Sometimes a situation is simply tough and expressions of empathy are ineffective. In those circumstances, look for ways to offer support and express concern — or simply sit with the other person and let them know you’re there.


Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.

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