In the past couple years as I’ve been dedicating a fair amount of attention to nurturing a sense of peace and tranquility I’ve arrived at a particular idea repeatedly. It comes up when I am upset by another person’s actions or words. Rather than focus on my own upset, I’ve learned to look beyond to the other person. In doing that I almost always arrive at the conclusion that the person in question is facing a challenge even greater than my own. I reason that the challenge is what drives the person to express him/herself in the way that I found upsetting. It’s a judgement flip because in that moment of revelation I see that it is weakness rather than strength that is the genesis for what feels to me like strong or overpowering behavior. I realize that I am by no way the first person to point this sort of thing out. But it bears repeating since we are all living here together and often we run into each other at exactly the wrong moment.
Last night while I was putting away a mountain of laundry (I’m finally caught up from our vacation – with the laundry at least), I listened to a talk by Malcolm Gladwell that inspired a similar flip in judgement:
Epictetus’ aphorism comes to mind: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Here’s to going through our days with attentiveness to what surrounds us.