After I left the faith and became a nihilist, I dispensed with the entirety of the old morality I had been raised with. It seemed the proper thing to do, I had erased virtually the entire ideological swathe of my life until that point, and resolved to start over. I vowed to be flexible - like water - and decide how to live day by day, no longer tied down to immutable laws passed down by the Hebrews thousands of years ago.
I was listless.
It was in the midst of a turbulent relationship when I came across an excellent Mark Manson article that I can no longer find. The article talked about the importance of principles in the context of relationships: what are the things that value, and behaviour are you willing to accept from others? Principles are not the same thing as boundaries, as boundaries flow naturally from principles (if you value your time, then it follows that you won't make time with people who don't value yours).
I had been in a toxic relationship where I'd found myself straining under the flexibility of my own (virtually nonexistent) principles.
So I took Manson's advice, and wrote down what I believed in. I then typed it up into an Evernote file and printed it, tacking it to my wall.
My principles underwent several revisions, until around 2 years ago, they stopped changing (perhaps a sign of maturity?).
Examine your life. Examine the why.
Follow the why until you arrive at the foundational assumptions of your life - until you've determined the underlying epistemological framework for your worldview.
A principle, having been selected with rational inquiry, paradoxically acts as a thoughtless rule - you encounter a situation, or moment, that evokes it, and you enact it. You find yourself thinking critically about your flaws, and then you remember to meet your own flaws with self compassion (#7), and you move on.
Rules! They're not all bad!
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis