The following list is attributed to Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

When I first received this list I was 18 years-old and attending an Outward Bound course in Maine. It had been photocopied so many times that the letters looked a little over-bled and rounded out.

I rarely re-post other people’s content, but this is one that keeps coming up to share with you.

by Dan Millman.

When you were born, you didn’t come with an owner’s manual; you have had to learn the rules the hard way. These rues are intended to help make your life easier.

  1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it but it will be yours for the entire period this time around. You have chosen its shape on a deeper level; you can change it.
  2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life on planet Earth. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons, or think them irrelevant.
  3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation — trial and error. The so-called failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”
  4. A lesson is repeated until learned. It will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you’ve learned it, you can then go on to the next lessons. If you don’t learn easy lessons, they become harder. You will know you’ve learned a lesson when your actions change.
  5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. Every person, every incident is the universal teacher. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
  6. “There” is no better than “here.” Nothing leads to happiness. When your “there” has become a “here” you will simply obtain another “there” that again looks better than “here.”
  7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate in yourself.
  8. What you create of your life is up to you. Life is like a movie; you may feel like a bit player, but you have the power to become a screen writer, casting director, producer, director. It’s your movie. You have all the tools and resources you need; what you do with them is up to you. There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch what happens, and those who wonder what happened. Notice that you do have the courage; take charge of your life. If you don’t, someone else will.
  9. Your answers lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust. Then you’ll realize that you are the spiritual being you’ve been seeking.
  10. You will tend to forget all this.

5 thoughts on “The Rules for Being Human

  1. Something I recently found out:
    cherie carter-scott’s rules of life (’10 rules for being human’)

    Cherie Carter-Scott PhD is a very modern guru. Her theories explain our attitudes and behaviour with a special clarity, and provide a practical guide to behaviour and self development. Dr Carter-Scott achieved her PhD in human and organisational development and for the nearly 30 years has been an international lecturer, consultant and author. She founded the MMS (Motivation Management Service) Institute and has been called a guardian angel to CEO’s. Carter-Scott’s 1998 book ‘If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules’ is essential reading if you are interested in behaviour, relationships, communications, and human personality. The ‘Rules For Being Human’ provide a map for understanding and pursuing personal development, and for helping others to understand and develop too.

    ‘If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules’ is also a commonly recommended and referenced book in the life-coaching industry, and in many other areas concerned with self-esteem, self-development and personal fulfilment.

    You may see, or have seen in the past, ‘The Ten Rules For Being Human’ copied and circulated in various formats with ‘Anonymous’ attribution. This understandably sometimes causes Carter-Scott’s authorship of the Rules to be doubted. It is therefore appropriate to offer the following additional information:

    Cherie Carter-Scott’s rules for life – also known as ‘The Ten Rules For Being Human’ – were referenced significantly, and initially anonymously, by Jack Canfield in ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’, until Canfield discovered the origins. As Canfield explains in his Foreward written for ‘If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules’, “…When we included the Rules for Being Human by ‘Anonymous’ in Chicken Soup for the Soul®, I had no idea that Cherie was the author. When I learned that she was the author of the rules I was delighted and yet not surprised…”

    Carter-Scott herself explains later in the Preface (to ‘If Life Is A Game, These Are The Rules’) that, “…In the past twenty-four years, the Rules for Being Human have circled the globe – photocopied and passed from friend to friend, transmitted via the internet, printed on brochures and on page 81 in the book Jack Canfield wrote, Chicken Soup for the Soul®, where the Rules were attributed to ‘Anonymous’. One day Jack called to say he’d heard from Dan Millman, the author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, that I was the author of the Rules for Being Human. Jack asked if that was true. When I acknowledged that I was, Jack apologised and offered to give me credit in the next printing…”‘

    Aside from those short extracts, Dr Carter-Scott’s book, ‘If Life is a Game, These are the Rules’, also further explains that Cherie Carter-Scott developed the ‘Rules’ quite a long time before her book was published in 1998, specifically during the mid-1970s, while in the process of designing a three month training program for consultants learning how to deliver her ‘Inner Negotiation/Self-Esteem Workshop’ and related teachings.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      While I am not taking the time to either fact-check it, nor to update the original post, I am happy for future readers to see your comment and do the research themselves.
      Correct attribution is important — and the content itself is more important.
      And I very much value your taking the time to comment and attempt to set the record straight.

      1. Hello Alan,
        First, I want to thank Fran Watson for taking the time to give you all the information you need to correct your error.
        With all due respect to your valuable work, this should have been fact checked in the first place, but I understand how difficult it may have been. Was it actually even in Dan’s book? I don’t have a copy, but that certainly would have been the easiest way. I think though that it would be appropriate to edit the page now, as I notice many people copy and repost this misinformation and don’t bother to read below the comment line..
        . Dr. Cherie Carter -Scott, as mentioned, has a copy right on her book If Life Is A Game These Are The Rules, Ten Rules For Being Human.
        Ten Rules For Being Human was written and published 25 years prior to the book publication which was in 1998. . It was also introduced with appropriate acknowledgement in Chicken Soup For the Soul (Jack Canfield) in 1993, and published and offered in The MMS Coaches Training in the early 1980’s.
        Although you believe that “Correct attribution is important — and the content itself is more important,” I disagree. When you know you have made a error, albeit innocently, and you have the opportunity to correct it easily, and choose not to, it is a deficit on both sides. The author doesn’t get a proper footnote, and you lose some credibility. I’m not sure that this is the statement you want to make. Additionally, when I reference clients to purchase or read this work by Cherie Carter Scott, Ph.D and they google it coming up with your blog, that is a problem.
        I wish you would edit your entry with corrected information, it’s only right now that you are aware. If you don’t believe it, or are more curious, you can review Cherie Carter -Scott’s web page
        Thank you for your attention to this matter.

  2. I have re-written a Christian version of these “rules” as SOP’s for being human, with appropriate scriptures. I thank this website and Dan Millman for getting me thinking and doing some research. This is much longer than Millman’s original offering.


    1. YOU WILL RECEIVE A BODY. You may like it or dislike it, but it will be yours for the entire period. It is both a holy gift and also a responsibility. Your body is vulnerable and will wear out eventually. Try not to speed this up.

    “I praise You Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

    “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

    “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

    2. YOU WILL LEARN LESSONS. You are enrolled in a full-time informal “school of hard knocks” called life. It is sort of a “boot camp.” Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid. They are, however, necessary for your development… in Christ.

    “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as his child.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

    Jesus told His disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. … No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15: 1-2, 4)

    “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:2b-4)

    3. THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, ONLY LESSONS, AND A LESSON IS REPEATED UNTIL LEARNED. Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as necessary as the experiment that ultimately “works.” Likewise, easier is rarely better in the long run. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are more lessons to be learned; it is the nature and purpose of life.

    “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? They disciplined us for a little while as they thought appropriate; but God disciplines us for our very best, in order that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5b-11)
    “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

    4. AS LONG AS YOU ARE IN THIS FALLEN WORLD, ‘THERE’ IS NO BETTER THAN ‘HERE.’ When your ‘there’ has become a ‘here’ you will simply see another ‘there’ that will again look better than ‘here.’ You might as well accept your ‘here’ and make the best of it. God has placed you where you need to be in order to get the best lessons.

    Remember, however, that the lessons WILL end. Heaven and Resurrection ARE coming to God’s people. Just don’t rush it.

    “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

    “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

    5. PEOPLE ARE CONNECTED IN WAYS WE CANNOT PERCEIVE. This is especially true of Christians— we are all one in Christ.

    Jesus prays: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17: 20-21)

    “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” (Ephesians 2: 19)

    6. HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT AND BEHAVE TOWARD OTHERS REFLECTS YOUR OWN SELF-UNDERSTANDING. You cannot love or hate something about another person without revealing something that you love or hate about yourself. Others merely express it more vividly or in an extreme way. How we treat others reveals how we expect to be treated.

    “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…” (Matthew 7:12)

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

    7. GOD HAS A WONDERFUL PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE. God will enable you to discover this plan and live it out. Seek and you shall find. You may not have all the resources you want, but you have all you need— and what you do with them is up to you. You are not a robot; you do have choices, so choose wisely.

    “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. … You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11, 13)

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2: 8-10)

    But sometimes suffering does come and we must include such experiences in our view of God’s perfect plan. Romans 8:28 proclaims that ALL things do work together for the good of God’s people. Although at the time we may not see it.


    Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3)

    “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

    Discover your heart’s desire— look and listen within, and learn to trust your Creator-Father. Given your limitations and abilities, who do you want to be? Who does God want you to be? You must move in this direction, however slowly.

    “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

    “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

    9. FINALLY, YOU WILL TEND TO FORGET ALL THIS AS YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE. So try very hard to remember it! You might want to keep these SOPs handy.

    “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12: 2)

  3. Dr Chérie Carter-Scott originally wrote “The Ten Rules for Being Human” as a handout for a workshop she was teaching in the mid 1970’s. They resonated with thousands of people and were photocopied, passed around, and stuck on refrigerator doors across the country. Eventually they were published in the phenomenal bestseller “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” She then wrote the book If Life is a Game, These are the Rules, published in 1998. Dan Millman had already published them in 1992 in his book Way of the Peaceful Warrior. Oprah Winfrey helped to make them famous. My Christian SOPs above are a much longer version.

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