Do no harm, take no shit

Published on Nov 6, 2020

Literally saw the titled words seconds ago in my social feed just before I started typing, and now I want to write about it. I think that's got to be my life aspiration and number one rule to live by now.

"Do no harm, take no shit".

I used to live by something higher – "Do good." But perhaps it's age or reality hitting, increasingly I realised all I can aspire to (try to) achieve is to do no harm. Very often the road to hell is paved with good intentions, all trying to "do good" but might in fact be making things worse. Done this many times, and had it done to me even more. There's really no way to know for sure that any good act will help. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try at all, just that it needs reframing, to "doing no harm". I think that's a better framing, don't you think? Rather than trying to help, try to be present/involved without causing harm. That takes a whole different mindset – about being mindful and taking steps to avoid potential ill consequences, and letting the good unfold without expectations, if it even comes. 

That brings us to the second part of that line, "take no shit". Altruistic and helpful people are often kind and open-hearted, and so they might find it hard to enforce boundaries, or don't know how to stop less well-meaning people from taking advantage of their good will. Burnout and disillusionment are common ailments due to that. So taking a no BS attitude will help. I certainly found it helpful for myself. 

Imagine being the calmest person ever, but watch how you speak to me.