I’ve always believed in the innate good in people. Many would argue with this statement, and I understand why when we merely have to turn on any news channel to see the barrage of horrendous stories coveting our television screens. I’ve witnessed people behaving badly with a ‘mob’ mentality in a crowd situation where they would otherwise behave in a much different manner. I don’t want to write about my theories as to why this occurs, as I am sure every one of us can come up with reasons that supersede the next; and so on, and so on, etc. We could debate the, ‘nature versus nurture’ premise until the ‘cows come home’ (I’ve always quite liked that saying). We could talk about the misguided souls, and their wrong-doings on the planet.
But I want to talk about you. And by ‘you’ I mean every person as an individual. There is no other experience we can live other than our own (no major shock to your sensibilities there, is it?). What if we take a moment and focus on our own internal checklist, as opposed to what many of us have developed as a, “couch quarterback mentality” as they say here in the United States. By that, I mean instead of sitting on the sidelines and yelling at the television in berating tones at a perceived, “half-attempt” when a football player fumbles, why not redirect that energy into something more action-oriented within ourselves.
And so, I’ve created a little list of sorts that will (hopefully) give us something to think about the next time we find ourselves quick to view the external world and its problems (as a couch quarterback) without thinking about what we can do that won’t create more than an exercise in futility:
(By the way, I certainly haven’t attempted to create a new and improved wheel here; this is just my own wee list that might strike a chord with you):
1. Help others whenever you have the opportunity; if the opportunity doesn’t appear, create it.
2. Take time to learn (even one thing) about a cultural group different from your own; your culture is equally as different to them as theirs is to yours. Familiarity might result in a better understanding of others.
3. Practice or, “train your brain” to re-frame knee-jerk assumptions about others; most people do or act a certain way because of what is going on in their internal world (anger, fear, lack, frustration, sadness, confusion).
4. Take responsibility for your own happiness; it is never because of someone else when it comes right down to it; your state of happiness is too much pressure to put onto another person when truly it resides entirely within you.
5. Check your ‘gratitude meter’ daily; thinking about what you are grateful for each day allows you to get a much bigger picture of the blessings bestowed upon you, as opposed to the microcosm issues such as forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day.
6. Give yourself a break now and again. Withholding a much-deserved break from yourself can cause the ‘ripple effect’ of undeserved crankiness toward others, decreased precious positive energy, and a cycle of negativity which can only be stopped by, well, you stopping your propensity to ‘do it all at once’.
7. Finding ‘the funny’ in a situation that might otherwise not seem that way changes the energy from negative to positive just like that! (though never at the expense of someone’s feelings). (*Mascara in the rain comes to mind for myself as a good ‘haha’ example!*)
8. Calmly and quietly remind yourself that just because you disagree with a loved one’s opinion (or vice versa) does not mean the love is any less (it’s not a trade-off; your difference of opinion doesn’t equal less love, or that you [or they] are not a good person). Take the pressure off yourself for thinking you must do and agree with others in order to be liked or loved.
9. Practice what you preach. Try not to set any standards for others you would not accept for yourself.
10. Have patience with yourself and others (this one I saved for last on my list because it is my personal cross to bear and I work on it everyday). The opposite of patience can create a lot of undue hardship in our lives and for others. Impatience is always surrounded by the inability to allow situations to unfold as they should in their own time.
There is my little food for thought list on a Friday morning here in Chicago!