Personal Bill of Rights

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Whether you are somewhere in the arc of recovery (because growing up, somewhere along the line, many of us received too much, too little, or the wrong kind of something, and we need to get that straightened out in order to be happily fully functional), or you feel that your life is pretty stable and happy, or you want to be even happier (flourish is the word Martin Seligman uses), the Personal Bill of Rights might be helpful.

From time to time, the topics here are not directly about humor or laughter because there is a “meta” purpose, a larger theme: illuminating the human condition. These are my attempts to think-write-discuss ideas that will help us to know who we are and understand how we can get through this existence in the best possible way. These ideas reflect on aspects of be-ing, with the aim of making our be-ing healthier and happier.

Who are we, the people?

For your consideration, here is something from my files that I have always felt was worthwhile. It’s been in my files for 25 years, gathering dust. Now, out in the fresh air, in the light of day, it can have new life by sharing. 
Whether you agree or disagree, accept or re-write, or draw your own conclusions, I believe you can find some sense of support, encouragement, strength, and confidence in these personal policies and practices that will contribute to your happiness.
Adapted from “Healing The Child Within” (1987) by Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.

1. I have numerous choices in my life beyond mere survival.
2. I have a right to discover and know my Child Within.
3. I have a right to grieve over what I didn’t get that I needed or what I got that I didn’t need or want.
4. I have a right to follow my own values and standards.
5. I have a right to recognize and accept my own value system as appropriate.
6. I have a right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe or violates my values.
7. I have a right to dignity and respect.
8. I have a right to make decisions .
9. I have a right to determine and honor my own priorities.
10.  I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
11.  I have the right to terminate conversations with people with whom I feel put down and humiliated.
12.  I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions, feelings or problems.
13.  I have a right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
14.  I have a right to expect honesty from others.
15.  I have a right to all of my feelings.
16.  I have a right to be angry at someone I love.
17.  I have a right to be uniquely me, without feeling I’m not good enough.
18.  I have a right to feel scared and to say “I’m afraid”.
19.  I have the right to experience and then let go of fear, guilt and shame.
20.  I have a right to make decisions based on my feelings, my judgment or any reason that I chose.
21.  I have a right to change my mind at any time.
22.  I have the right to be happy.
23.  I have a right to stability – i.e. “roots” and stable healthy relationships of my choice.
24.  I have the right to my own personal space and time needs.
25.  There is no need to smile when I cry.
26.  It is OK to be relaxed, playful and frivolous.
27.  I have the right to be flexible and be comfortable with doing so.
28.  I have the right to change and grow.
29.  I have the right to be open to improve communication skills so that I may be understood.
30.  I have a right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
31.  I have a right to be in a non-abusive environment.
32.  I can be healthier than those around me.
33.  I can take care of myself, no matter what.
34.  I have the right to grieve over actual or threatened losses.
35.  I have the right to trust others who earn my trust.
36.  I have the right to forgive others and to forgive myself.
37.  I have the right to give and to receive unconditional love.

Healing The Child Within” (1987) by Charles L. Whitfield, M.D., is available at many online booksellers. From an online description:

Have you ever heard of your inner child? Well, this is the classic book that started it all.

In 1987, Charlie Whitfield’s breakthrough concept of the child within—that part of us which is truly alive, energetic, creative and fulfilled—launched the inner child movement. Healing the Child Within describes how the inner child is lost to trauma and loss, and how by recovering it, we can heal the fear, confusion and unhappiness of adult life.

[More than] eighteen years and more than a million copies sold later, Healing the Child Within is a perennial selling classic in the field of psychology. And it is even more timely today than it was in 1987. Recent brain research, particularly on the effects of trauma on the brain of developing children, has supported Whitfield’s intuitive understanding as a psychiatrist.

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About the Author

Steve Wilson

Award-winning psychologist, Steve Wilson, also known as The Joyologist and The Cheerman of the Bored, has spent 30 years specializing in applied and therapeutic humor with a humanitarian mission. As Director of National Humor Month, he intertwines science and ancient wisdom with substance and humor to create practical methods to lead the world to health, happiness and peace through laughter. More than six thousand people have completed his unique training in how to create therapeutic laughter, and tens of thousands more around the world have been uplifted by his talks, classes, books, and articles. He established the World Laughter Tour, Inc., in 1998, to be a rich resource and inspiration for improving productivity, health, and well being in business, healthcare and education. For more information and