About Simple Rules

The Simple Rules Foundation is built upon the notion of simple rules, and that small actions can make a big difference.


What are Simple Rules?

Simple Rules provide a straightforward and uncomplicated set of guidelines for living your life. They are comprised of what you believe and understand about yourself, offering a common focal point for who you are, what is important to you, and how you  want to connect with others. They are based upon your values    and the conditions you set to shape the patterns of your life. Simple rules are also all about action and taking the necessary steps to move toward a sustainable, productive life. The concept of simple rules emerged from the thinking of researchers and technicians who use computer simulations to study the behavior of phenomena in their environments. These theorists have studied how birds flock in the beautiful and graceful ways they do; they study shifting patterns of urban growth; how populations of animals change in the wild; and many other complex ideas and concepts. What they discovered is that if they give a computer very simple rules about how something behaves, they can set the computer in motion and it will generate patterns on the screen that represent fairly accurately what they see in nature. For example, using as few as three rules, a computer simulation can create intricate and elegant patterns that look like birds flocking. Those rules are:

  • Steer toward the average position of flock mates (towards the center).
  • Match the average speed of the flock (keep up).
  • Steer to avoid crowding (don’t bump into anyone).

Next time you get the chance, look up and watch the birds overhead. Once you begin to pay attention, you will notice how patterns change with slight alterations in the rules. For example, a small change in one rule can have a big change in the overall simulated flock pattern. Imagine then how changing your own simple rules can help you shift your patterns of behavior.

Simple rules are also all about action and taking the necessary steps to move toward a sustainable, productive life.

Simple rules work for individuals and for groups—anywhere humans live, work, or play together in families, teams, communities, or organizations. And the thing about Simple Rules is this: you can explore them, collect them, play with them, revise them, shout them out, and live them. That is their gift. They help us explore our lives as we play with ideas and share with each other. They provide an anchor in our decisions and actions and how we live our lives.

Getting ready to teach a class?
How about these Simple Rules?
  • Teach and learn in every interaction.
  • Actively listen and respond to others’ voices.
  • Honor individuality and differences.
  • Promote equity, respect and fairness.
  • Help sustain the world around us.
  • Explore the unknown with enthusiasm, wonder, and integrity.


Thinking about starting your own business?
How about these Simple Rules?
  • Serve ethically and effectively.
  • Innovate, learn and sustain with quality.
  • Act globally with integrity and compassion.
  • Maintain sensible and consistent financial growth.
  • Consider the company; consider the environment.



 Raising children and building a strong family?
How about these Simple Rules?
  • Treat each other with respect and fairness.
  • Listen with an open mind and open heart.
  • Teach and learn with love and joy.
  • Sustain our health, safety and security, together and apart.
  • Recognize and appreciate our differences.



So what are your Simple Rules?


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