“Rather, genuine compassion is based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like myself.”The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
Assuming that others have positive (to them) intent, in the same way you do, is the first step to developing compassion.
All human beings? Even people that don’t vote like me or have a different religion? Even people that I think are racist?
Yes, they do. And accepting this and allowing others their space, without infringing on your own, is the way to feel genuine compassion for others. It also leads to happiness, for you and for those around you.
I’m am the worst when it comes to practicing this concept. I know it logically. I’ve written about it. I’ve read about it. I’ve meditated on it. And yet still, I come unglued when I’m faced with the fact that everyone does not think the way I do.
“If you’d only listen to me!” I scream in my head…mostly. “What you are doing does not lead you where you want to go, dumbass!” Dumbass is one of my favorites. I grew up hearing my Grandpa call people a dumbass and loved it. As a kid, it conjured up all kinds of hilarious images. As an adult, it’s even better. Not only is the person stubborn like an ass, but they’re dumb too. Blind, deaf, and mute to the actual world around them, digging all four hooves into the dirt and leaning back with all their weight against getting anything productive done. It’s such an apt name to call people.
I’m guilty of being the biggest dumbass just about every day. Why? Because I honestly believe I know what’s best for everyone around me. It’s obvious that I know more than you do. It’s clear that I’m smarter and more emotionally intelligent. If you’d only listen to me and do what I say, life would be so much easier for us all.
It’s sad that life doesn’t work that way. There are days when I want to scream and lock myself away in a remote cabin, far from the entire world. Just me, my books, my coffee…
Oh, who am I kidding? What’s the fun of living if I don’t get to attempt to control the behavior of others?!
We all do this to some degree. We all think we have the right answers for everyone, or at least we’re headed in the right direction. In all honesty, I wish we could at least know the right answers for our own lives, but that rarely happens too.
If only we could live like the Borg, mentally connected to each other so we could all know how everyone else felt, what everyone else was thinking, without the communication gaps. You know what I think we’d find if we could mind meld with everyone else? We’re all doing the best we can with what we have. We all have our own individual goals, emotional needs, etc. We’re all trying. We all want to be loved unconditionally by someone. We all want tacos for dinner. Once we realize that, nothing else really matters.
I wonder why it’s so hard for us to believe that. Can you imagine a world where everyone around you assumed you had positive intent? What if everyone you met believed that you were making the best choices to meet your own individual needs? And that if for some reason you overstepped another human’s boundaries, they would inform you gently and you’d respond in kind so that you were both comfortable?
Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? We can start with our own lives with this one thought. Everyone around us, no matter what they are saying or doing, wants to be happy and is trying to relieve their own suffering. Get out of their way.
You can find The Art of Happiness at Thriftbooks. If you read it, let me know what you think!
I posted about this book when I started reading it back in December, New Read: The Art of Happiness
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