The 7 Principles that Guide My Life

by Alexandra Carmichael

Two weeks ago I went to Portland, by myself. At first I felt very out of place. I kept thinking, “What am I doing here?” “Why did I come?” I doubted my decision, but decided to stick with it.

Ten minutes into the workshop, I remembered. I knew why I was there. My whole body was washed with the bliss that floods through my body every time I do tai chi. And when they brought out the sabers, that’s when the real fun began!

I’m pretty sure it was my first time actually holding a weapon. I felt surprisingly powerful and strong, yet calm and graceful at the same time. For the first two hours my arm was killing me, until I learned how to hold it at the correct angle and not swing wildly with my wrist.

My mind was cleared by the mental and physical intensity of learning a new set of moves with a heavy object. My usual mental loops about kids, work, and worry were replaced with a singular focus on the task at hand.

Plus, I had a new set of worries – with forty people in a room cutting through the air with sabers, it’s important to stay in unison and give each other enough space. (I got whacked twice. The sabers were wood instead of metal blades, so it just hurt instead of drawing blood).

After two days of this incredible mind-clearing movement, I had a solid three-hour chunk of time at the airport before boarding my flight. I wanted to use this time to reflect, to process, to find balance. I struggled to find a set of guiding principles that fit me – Buddhism? Taoism? Zen? Minimalism? Universal Energy? Nothing felt completely right.

Then it hit me – why not come up with my own set of principles to guide my life? I started writing, and was surprised by how effortless it was!

So here are The 7 Principles that Guide My Life:


A 7-path labyrinth

1. Open, honest communication.

2. Authentic self-expression.

3. Questioning authority.

4. Service to others.

5. Care of self.

6. Balance.

7. Love.


I found this to be a tremendously helpful exercise. Taking the time to define what is important to you in your life and then crafting your life to live by those principles – this is how you can live your best life.

Give it a try! Don’t think about it. Just put “My Guiding Principles” at the top of the page. Then start writing and see what comes out. No judgment, only acceptance. And if you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear what you come up with!

With my own guide in hand, I now feel a much greater sense of self and purpose in my daily decisions. When something comes up that I need to deal with, I go back to my 7 principles and usually find the answer, or at least a sense of peace.

I don’t feel so out of place now. I know why I went to Portland. And, at least for this brief moment in time, I know how to live my life.