Last month I decided to make my very own set of personal commandments.  15 to be exact.  Via Audible, I listened to Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home (which is by far and away my most influential book of 2013 so far).  As soon as I finished, I re-listened then borrowed the hard copy from the library.

Immediately after that, I downloaded The Happiness Project, which also MAJORLY inspired me.

More than that, I believe God has used these non-conventional books to inspire something deep within me that I’ve pushed away for too long.  I won’t go into much detail because I can’t wait to write more about these things later.  For today, my first concrete step from these books: my personal commandments.

As Gretchen puts it, personal commandments are “a creative way to distill core values,” and something you should look at every day to remind you of how to have your best life.  It took me a few weeks to figure this out, narrow the list & make the graphic but here’s mine with explanations below:


1.  Be Grace - A daily reminder to be myself.  It’s okay to like fashion or the kinds of books I like.  In all circumstances, it’s okay to be myself without the constant nag that I should be thinking/feeling/blogging/writing the way someone else does.  Just be Grace.

2. Get outside - I almost never want to (except when by a pool while 80 degrees) but it’s almost always good for me.  No, scratch that.  All right, all ready, it’s ALWAYS good for me to go outside.  Yes, even in the winter. Grrrrrrrrr…

3. Marriage & Kids over Ambition - I’m a creative type, a workaholic & someone who goes for broke.  I lose sight.

4.  Choose the Bigger Life - This is one of Gretchen’s that practically jumped off the page at me.  And then I thought about it for 3 days.  And then I started saying it to myself when I was faced with day-to-day, minute-to-minute decisions.  I simply love this.  Because sometimes the bigger life is getting down on the floor to play Lego’s when you’d rather just get that laundry folded.  And sometimes, people choose -in the moment- to risk their own life to save another.  They chose the bigger life.  I want to live and practice that.

5.  In ALL Circumstances, Gratitude - This one comes straight from the Bible.  And all manner of cheesy Christian worship songs.  Though I often need reminding, it is true. I believe in the gratitude we find redemption.

6.  Nisi Dominus Frustra - Latin for “without the LORD frustration.”  I have this truth tatoo’ed on the back of my neck.  Back in 2008, I was all riled up on dreams, a work promotion and the progress of my book but I wanted to remember that it was all about God, not me, me, me.  Coincidentally, a few years later I saw the same phrase on the seal of the denomination where the hubs & I go to Church.  And oh yes, it’s true.  When I do things my ghetto, gangsta’, ill-advised way – FRUSTRATION.

7.  Seek Inspiration Daily - I tag 90% of my instagram pics #StayInspired.  Seeking out inspiration is seriously, the equivalent of five cups of strong coffee.  But it takes work.  I need to remember how inspiration feeds my weary bones and propels me to selfless giving, caring & creating.

8. Books before Screens - (Unfortunately, this phrase reminds me of “bro’s before hoes.”  I digress)  I LOVE watching T.V. especially Netflix where I can -if possible- gorge myself in a gluttunous feeding frenzy on back-to-back episodes of whatever tickles my fancy.  Problem is, I’m more content when I read.  Reading takes more mental work, but is ultimately, far better for me.  And I never regret reading.

9. Keep the Sabbath - The day is negotiable.  Sunday works the best for me.  Put down the work, be with the kids, read instead, do crafts with the kids.  Don’t clean, try not to cook an elaborate meal.  God says Sabbath was made for us.  Not us for it.  When I started Sabbath-keeping about 8 years ago it changed my life.  I vowed I’d never not do Sabbath.  Yet, I’ve gotten away from my vow.  I’m going back.  Restful peace is mine to behold!

10.  Be Intentional – Intentionality breeds growth, bottom line.

11.  Declutter Often – C’mon have ever seen my house?

12. Be Kind.  Be Grace filled – The way I treat other people matters.  The way I treat myself matters.  If I try to live every day of my life being kind and grace filled to myself and others I cannot imagine how much fruit would come to bear in my life.  Also, the world is dying for this kind of faith.  Genuine kindness.  Genuine Grace.

13.  Love your Body.  Work it out - First and foremost, Grace: You will LOVE your body, just the way it is.  I will love my body.  I will speak highly of it.  I will not trash it.  One tangible way of loving my body both in word and deed is by working that ‘ish out.

14.  Don’t spend frivilously – I’m a typical over spender who needs constant reminders not to overspend or buy things we don’t need.

15.  Cultivate your Inner Circle - Without these people, where would I be?  Like a garden, good friendships need cultivating too.


So.  What do you think of my personal commandments?  It should go without saying, I’m also trying to live by the Biblical 10 Commandments.  Obviously, people!  =) 

Are you interested in making your own daily & reviewable personal commandments?  If so, hop on over to Gretchen’s blog to learn how to make your own personal commandments.

When I frame them where do you think I should put them?  By my bed (out of sight), in the main bathroom, on my still-messy desk?

Here are the books that inspired all this: {affiliate links}


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  • Aubrey

    This is why I have you categorized in the “My Inspiration” section of my Feedly RSS feed. :) Thanks, Grace.

    • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

      aww thanks, Aub! Now, go make your own! =) (and then blog it)!

  • alyssa bacon-liu

    Yay! I love The Happiness Project too and made my 12 commandments last year. They have definitely made a positive influence in my life and I noticed they influenced by blogging as well. It’s sort of nice to have a few key phrases come to mind to encourage and motivate myself. Love your commandments and I hope you’ll be writing about how you’re doing with keeping up with them.

    ps – I haven’t read Happier at Home yet, but I want to!

    • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

      Alyssa, I remember that you loved it! Did I read that on your blog? I think I did! Have you posted your commandments on your blog? If so, send me the link! As for keeping up with writing about them… I’ll try! I’m sucking so bad at consistency. Grrrr….

      • alyssa bacon-liu
        • alyssa bacon-liu

          And every Thursday there is a #BeHappyLinkUp inspired by The Happiness Project! :) I try to link up when I can. And I’m still making my way through the book, but I feel like I’ve learned so much from it already!

          • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

            Oooooo, is the #BeHappyLinkUp a twitter thang? I’ll have to consider this. I really need to consider what link-ups I’m going to do & just STICK with it! lol (I feel like I have commitment issues w/ link-ups)!

        • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}


  • Jerry

    Oh this is good. Thank you Grace. This will be shared and pray that I will personally apply this!

    • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

      Thanks, Jer!!!

  • Guest

    Found this via Jerry (above)–wow, so good! I love this idea and I should really chew on it.

    • Grace Biskie

      you should! I highly suggest making your own!

  • Tori Webb

    Found this via Jerry (above)–wow, so good! I love this idea and I should really chew on it. I love the idea of making a *personal* list, and I really value you that you took weeks to think this over and implement. I tend to just jump into the next great idea without much longterm thought and it fizzles out fast. I’m adding these books to my reading list now! Thank you!

    • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

      Thanks, Tori! I found the books to be just great!…really valuable stuff to think about.

  • Natalie Trust

    Love these personal commandments, Grace! I need to do this.

    • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

      It was refreshing to do! You should! =)

  • Peter DeHaan

    I like! (Especially “Books before screens.”)

    • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

      Thanks, Peter! Yep, that one is SUPER helpful for me….I’m always pining for a screen! =)

  • Sarah Quezada

    I’ve never thought about doing anything like this. What a great way to keep focus! Thanks for sharing yours.

    • Grace Biskie

      very late response here but… you should! =)

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