Make Your Own Rules

One of my favorite mood-lighteners when I think the universe is out to get me is Paul Dickson’s 20-year old book, The Official Rules and Explanations, which perversely, affirms that premise. We all know Murphy’s Law: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” But Paul Dickson collected a great many more. For example:

  • If the directions for finding a place include the words, “You can’t miss it,” you will. (Vargas’s Law)
  • If it can break, it will, but only after the warranty expires. (Graditor’s Law)
  • Linear devices, (such as wire, string, etc.) when left to their own devices, occupy time by twisting themselves into tangles and weaving knots. (Bell’s Rule)

Another rule that has proven true for me is, “The other line moves faster.” Barbara Ettore first made this observation in 1974, along with the cautionary note not to even think about changing lines, because if you do, then your original line will move faster.

Grocery lines is the chief place that applies for me, and I admit – although people will tell you I am generally a nice person – that I frequently race to a waiting cashier when another shopper is headed to her from the opposite direction. Which reminded me of a column Leigh Anne Jasheway once wrote about grocery rules in her Don’t Get Mad, Get Funny newsletter. She wrote that she likes grocery stores (because that’s where the food is,) but believes we need some simple rules to make our lives easier. My favorite of her suggestions is:

 “The Replacement Rule:  How many times have you picked up an item on Aisle 2 (Shampoo, Soaps and Surf boards) and then realized when you’re on Aisle 517 that you already have that item at home?  According to this rule, you are not required to go all the way back to where you found said item. You simply place it in the middle on the floor, then look up at the cameras which have been filming your every move (including when you were readjusting your bra) and point to it. The grocery store will dispatch a drone to retrieve it and return it to its rightful place. Do not, I repeat, do not, attempt to leave one or more of your children behind in this manner. No matter how unruly they are.”

  • What rules of the universe have you noticed?
  • What rules can you invent to make your life easier?

Learn more about Leigh-Anne Jasheway at

To learn more about Paul Dickson’s Official Rules and Explanations book or buy it used on Amazon, click here.

Kathy Laurenhue is the author of Creating Delight – Connecting, Gratitude, Humor, and Play. Learn more at


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