Imagine a world without any rules. It’s pretty hard to do, right? It’s possible that human beings as a species simply can’t exist without hierarchies and structure and deciding how long one’s lunch break should be. Civilization as a whole wouldn’t exist without ideas and behaviors we can all agree on.
However, some rules seem unjust, unfair, and all-around oppressive. That’s why folks try to bend them without breaking them, and Bored Panda has collected the most clever and creative ways how people beat the system by following the rules to the letter. It’s some truly amazing inspiration for all of you Pandas who might feel too restricted, whether it’s at work or elsewhere. And it’s rock-solid proof that you don’t necessarily need to resort to anarchy to beat the system at its own game.
Remember to upvote your fave pics as you scroll down, and be sure to drop by the comment section to share your own stories about how you worked around unfair rules. Oh, and in case you need some more examples of how the rules are powerless against the human imagination, check out Bored Panda’s earlier two articles about it right here and over here.
Suzanne Degges-White, Licensed Counselor, Professor, and Chair at the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University, shared her insights about the importance of rules and structure in life with Bored Panda.
“While novelty is always enticing, for the most part, humans need structure and routine— especially as young kids and then mature adults. Structure gives us security and even though we may fight against it, we feel safe knowing that rules exist that keep us (and others) in bounds,” she explained to us.
According to Professor Degges-White, we might feel the urge to rebel when we become teenagers. However, this doesn’t change the fact that rules, as a whole, are vital to have.
“During adolescence, the urge to challenge parents takes hold, but without rules/expectations, we would feel adrift. While some of us will always try to bend the rules, break the rules, or challenge the rules, there is comfort in knowing that large-scale chaos isn't going to happen due to the rules that we may be fighting against,” she told Bored Panda.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that everyone has a different level of tolerance for following the rules. Some might embrace them to the fullest and have a difficult time living outside their routines. Meanwhile, others rebel against any and all rules (sometimes to the point of absurdity).
“There are some people who feel that any attempts to get them to ‘fall in line’ are unacceptable. I once worked with someone who would always turn in their reports late—whether it was late by a day or just a couple of minutes past the stated deadline, they were consistently going to buck the deadline,” Professor Degges-White revealed to Bored Panda.
“When asked why they behaved in this way, their response was that they were able to maintain control when they didn't follow the rules. For them, rules at work were something to be broken in order to satisfy their ‘control freak’ tendency,” she said.
“Others, though, use rules as ‘base level expectations’ and want to exceed those expectations and follow rules to a ‘t.’ They maintain their own sense of control by staying way inside of the rules—they take pride in this behavior.”.
Whatever each individual’s tolerance for rules might be, society as a whole would fall apart without them.
“Everyone has a different view on rules/boundaries and it might be nature for some and nurture for others. However, on a larger scale, societies cannot function without clear rules and boundaries. Chaos and anarchy result—at any level—when rules fall by the wayside,” the professor told Bored Panda.
Having structure in your life can help you deal with stress. Strict schedules and routines can be very useful when the world seems unpredictable and your future looks uncertain. It’s something to fall back on. Something to rely on. It’s something to give you a sense of control when there’s chaos left, right, and center.
In fact, a lack of structure can actually lead to more stress down the line. “If people don't have structure and are sitting around with less to focus on, then they also probably will find themselves thinking about the stressful situation more, which can also lead to additional stress and anxiety,” Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., told Very Well Mind
Besides lowering your stress levels, having a regular routine can help you form healthy habits, and make you feel more focused and productive. This can work both with self-imposed and outwardly-imposed routines. However, in some cases, we might not agree with all the rules in place. We might question the need for them or we might feel that the alternatives that we propose are far better.
This can lead to tension between those imposing and enforcing the rules, as well as those who are expected to abide by them. Let’s be frank, some workplace rules are truly bonkers, have no bearing to reality, or might be in place to stroke some managers’ egos. Meanwhile, others might be there for good reason (even if it’s not immediately apparent). It all comes down to good, effective leadership and whether or not bosses actually care about their employees. A good leader can create rules that make sense and benefit (nearly) everyone, not just the few.
Eddy Ng, the Smith Professor of Equity & Inclusion in Business at Queen’s University, told Bored Panda earlier that strong leaders in the workplace are those who are moral, principled, and choose to do the right thing. They stand in stark contrast to weak leaders who only do the things that make them popular and have a hard time making firm decisions: they flip-flop, they dither, they can’t make up their minds.
“The notion of servant leadership is gaining attention in the workplace. Although it is associated with many of the strong leadership traits such as empathy, selflessness, and humility, the focus is on the leader’s propensity to serve (or support) their followers. Servant leaders empower and lift up followers (employees) to motivate and fuel their passion,” the professor explained to Bored Panda.
“Employees can manage that relationship to have work satisfaction. In this instance, employees need to communicate what they need (tools) or work conditions (autonomy) in order for them to perform optimally when working with a controlling boss. Employees need to convey what they can and are able to perform,” he said that the principle of exchange is an important one in workplaces.
However, it’s not just at work where we find rules to abide by. Whether we like it or not, we also adhere to certain limits at home, too. In healthy relationships, both partners make the rules together, communicate efficiently, and respect each other’s boundaries. However, in some relationships, one partner might hold too much power or someone might not be able to enforce the rules and boundaries that matter to them.
“In relationships and life in general, too much power can corrupt a person’s behavior. A man or a woman who is normally a very nice, caring, loving and understanding person, can sometimes become quite selfish, mean and unloving if given too much power in a romantic relationship,” Dan Bacon, a dating and relationship expert, told Bored Panda recently.
“Sometimes, a woman will be in a relationship with a man who says that he has boundaries, but then lets her defy those boundaries on a daily basis because he doesn’t know how to stand up to her in an assertive, loving, and effective way,” he explained that boundaries need to be enforced for them to matter.
“All he does is get upset, sulk and seek pity from her when she defies his boundaries, which she sees as weak, wimpy, and possibly even pathetic. This can then result in her losing respect for him, which can then make her feel as though his so-called ‘boundaries’ aren’t something that she needs to adhere to,” the expert pointed out that boundaries mean nothing if they’re only theoretical. Pleading, demanding, or trying to reason with someone will not get them to respect your boundaries.
“That kind of problematic outcome often happens when one person has way too much power in a relationship.”
A healthy relationship means that the power dynamic isn’t skewed too far one way or the other.
“Having boundaries respected is not about a man being overly domineering or bossy and making his girlfriend or wife feel like she has no power or say. That is not loving or effective and it will create many relationship problems and most likely cause the relationship to end in a breakup,” he told us.
“A man needs to approach the relationship in a way where his girlfriend or wife feels respected, but also feels the need to respect him in return. If respect is only one way in the relationship, problematic behavior will naturally emerge and boundaries may be defied or disrespected by an otherwise nice, loving, and caring person.”
Customers would then receive a simple clothesline in the mail.