I live in Dallas, TX where there are two passions—The Dallas Cowboys and road construction.

I cannot travel 2 miles without coming across safety cones. (I wish I had invested in that industry three years ago!). One nagging issue I face is the absence of lines in the road. Lanes bob and weave, merge, disappear, or shift, all with no white stripe in the road.

I have learned to appreciate the white line. It keeps my car centered and safe. Without the lines, the demolition derby is safer than routine commuting.

We need bright lines. Those are standards we create by which we do not cross. They define behavior and guide our days.

As a boy, I watched the old police drama Dragnet. In that show, every time the bad guy was arrested, the police took out a card “read them their rights.”

Those “rights” are called Miranda rights. In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona that the defendant (Miranda) did not know his rights.

Since that day, “reading the rights” is a bright line rule.

God gave the Ten Commandments. They are “bright line” behavior. Do not vary and do not change from the standard.

I learned the value of bright-line thinking again recently. It comes in handy in one of my goals.

My mother’s family has willed me a myriad of potential health issues, one of which is diabetes. When I turn the calendar page each year, it waves at me like a beauty queen in the Rose Bowl parade.

Earlier this year (2018), my joints started aching. I could have assumed it was old man’s disease (which has become my friend). Instead, I thought a little deeper. Elevated blood sugar creates systemic inflammation. Bad eating habits promote inflammation.

I had enough. It was time to change.

I had to create a bright line.

Mine was sugar snacks. I have kept Nabisco, Nestle, and Hershey in business. I need to get an end of the year bonus. A container of cookies was nothing for a sweet tooth. Special events (like church dinners) spread the dessert table like a red carpet. Like a wildebeest in the Savannah, I grazed.

I knew that was a problem. Time for the bright line to get painted.

No more processed sugar. It’s been close to 4 months since I’ve wolfed down the chocolate chip cookies, gorged on cake, or scarfed candy.

It made a difference. Within a week, the pain subsided and then vanished.

I tell that story not to preen accomplishment but to make a point. Life flows in lanes of bright lines. Society depends on them. Speed limits protect, not restrict. While no one likes rules, they are the bright lines.

Kids need them. The rules parents enforce can seem arbitrary. Yet, they are teaching the principle of bright-line thinking.

Set a bright line. Keep it bright. Paint it off. Reinforce your standards, values, behaviors. If it is not sitting down until laundry is folded, whiten the line. If it is saying thank you to one person a day, drive the line.

When you have bright-line rules in your life, you relax. The big decision gets made which governs little ones. You can do so much when you establish the white line that will guide your behavior.

On the highway, the lack of bright lines puts life on the line. In life, the lack of bright lines creates chaos and confusion.

Decided what you want to do, make the line bright white, and follow it.

What bright lines do you need to paint in your life?