Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


Rules For Life – That Door Won’t Open Itself

by Ken La Salle

Welcome back to my continuing series of Rules For Life.journey in art

It’s a situation some of us are faced with every day. You are walking into a building with other people and must decide if you’ll hold the door open for another person or not. Sometimes we hold the door open without giving it a thought. Other times, we wonder why we have to do it at all.

Now, there are some who will tell you that the act of holding a door open for someone traces its roots back to the days of chivalry and that it really only applies to women. But I would challenge that. We live in a time when the line determining who we should hold doors open for and why we should hold them open, when the consideration of the door itself is not so simple that we can do so only for women or only to be chivalrous. You can chalk that up to changes in gender identities, changes in how we look at gender, changes in many of the ways we interpret the rules of society; but I think it comes down to something far more fundamental.

Holding a door open for another person is not simply a chivalrous act, as if something this simple can only be related to knightly conduct. Rather, this simple act is related to so many simple acts of kindness we do in our lives. When you see someone drop something, do you help them pick their things up? When someone asks directions, do you help them out? How about when someone is trying to reach something high up on a shelf at the store? Or when that same person has only one item in line? Do you help them reach it or allow them go ahead of you?

These simple acts of kindness are commonplace and perhaps even a bit inconvenient but we do them and we should do them and they are this month’s Rule For Life.

But why do we do them? Why should these simple acts of kindness be our new Rule For Life? To understand this, we first have to ask ourselves what kind of world we wish to live in. Yes, having strangers ask for help can get on our nerves but that moment when we stop and consider what to do – it can be as brief as a blink of an eye – I believe we realize something fundamental. Even if it is only on a subconscious level, we understand that we are creating the kind of world we wish to live in.

Do we wish to live in a world that is less forgiving and more difficult? Or do we wish to live in a world where help is only as far as the next person over? I believe that most of us do want a world that is not as harsh. We want to live in a world that’s a bit more forgiving. And, so, we do open that door. We do give directions. We try to help where we can because, even if we’re not aware of it, we know that our actions have an effect. And maybe that effect is small, maybe it’s not immediate but it is cumulative.

We create the world we wish to live in, even if only a little bit. When we see someone approaching that door we’re holding open, we know that – for that person – the world has become a kinder place.

And, here’s the thing. That is only the start. Kindness doesn’t and shouldn’t stop at one door. We should all realize that our actions have a cumulative effect on the world and we should realize it on a conscious level. Perhaps, then, we would all be a bit kinder. Perhaps, we would be more generous to those who have little. Perhaps, we would be less likely to cause harm.

The only way to find out is to make kindness your Rule For Life.

About the Author

Author and Playwright, Ken La Salle grew up in Santa Ana, California and has remained in the surrounding area his entire life. He was raised with strong, blue-collar roots, which have given him a progressive and environmentalist view. As a result, you’ll find many of his stories touching those areas both geographically and philosophically. His plays have been seen in theaters across the country and you can find a growing number of books available online. Find out more about Ken on his website at

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