Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: positive intent

Assuming Positive Intent is the Start to More Compassion

Having Compassion quote on a desert background.

“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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Maybe We Could Take Off The “People Suck” Glasses for a Moment

Ok, I’ll jump on the coronavirus bandwagon! I wasn’t going to, but a few things came together over the past week and I thought, wow…I should say something about this, and it’s not “wash your hands.” It’s about hoarding…and it’s not what you’re probably thinking.

I try to avoid going shopping in the afternoon as a rule. There are just so many people there and I get like a crabby old lady shaking my cane at all the slackers. I shouldn’t act like that. I shouldn’t react to other humans as if they are just NPC’s in my game, but…sometimes…really? That makes me feel bad about myself, so I keep my supplies shopping down to once a month and in the morning if possible. It’s just better for all of us.

Last week was especially trying. I’d begun to hear through social media memes about toilet paper hoarding and empty shelves where the hand-sanitizers used to sit, but I assumed it was a fluke of one store or a few in larger cities that the media had gotten ahold of and spun into “news.”

I didn’t expect it here in the rural desert, but there I was heading down the aisle for some tissues and laundry soap, faced with a completely empty shelf where the disinfectant spray used to be stacked. I stopped and huffed. What in the world? I took a picture of it and texted it to my husband. “I can’t believe it.”

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My ACTUAL Picture of the Stores Shelves

When I got home, I grumped about the situation. People over-reacting. Hoarding toilet paper of all things. You do know you CAN live without it, right? There was more to grump about. My other errands included picking up packages at the post office and a quick grocery store run that turned sour (probably because of my bad mood), but those are stories for another day.

Suffice it to say that I had a stressful trip into town. I washed my hands, put things away, washed my hands again, and then got myself a nice shot of Irish whiskey on ice. I needed it.

But that’s not the end of my story!

Over the next few days, I started seeing Facebook posts griping about “hoarders” in our time of crisis and suddenly, something dawned on me. I don’t think people are hoarding supplies at all.

Think about it. The store gets a delivery once a week to restock any items that people typically buy in one week. We don’t all buy the same items every week, so they don’t restock ALL of any one product each week, especially things like cleaning supplies.

Let’s take disinfectant spray as an example since that’s what I saw firsthand. Let’s say the shelf I saw held 1000 cans of spray. Not everyone uses one can every week. Not everyone even uses it at all. I don’t. Let’s say again, hypothetically because I didn’t, I heard on the news that it would be a good idea to spray things down with disinfectant during this epidemic, so on my next shopping trip, I pick a couple cans up.

Now, there are approximately 40,000 people in our area, so even if half of that many people all watch the news and decide to do the same thing in the same week, the store will run out this week. And probably next week too.

That’s not hoarding. It’s what happens when everyone changes their behavior suddenly. No one is being a terrible person. Everyone is just doing the next logical thing. We’re not monsters. We’re just taking precautions to protect our families like the news suggested we should.

I don’t believe people are generally horrible. My family will laugh at that statement, but I think they’d agree that although I do get a little snippy with people, in general, I believe people are capable and good.

I DO believe our social media behavior is shabby. We see something going on in the world, but we don’t think logically about it, or give people the benefit of the doubt. Then we react to people and events before even thinking things through. And now that we can broadcast those thoughts immediately to everyone we know, things just look uglier than they really are.

It’s gotten to the point where I, myself, have been afraid to do something because of how it might be reported on social media or how it may look to a passerby. That’s just not healthy. That’s something we need to change.

It seems like a vicious cycle. One person sees something and accuses, posts about it, others see it and jump on the wagon. We read it and begin to think, “What’s wrong with people?” And then we begin to think everyone is ugly. Then we see something through our “people suck” glasses and begin to see more of it everywhere and accuse them. The cycle repeats.

What if instead, we started assuming positive intent in everyone around us? What if, instead of jumping to accuse people of wrongdoing, we took a breath and thought it through? We could look at our own behavior and try to see a reason why a fellow human is doing something. It could just make the world a much friendlier place.

I’m glad I resisted the urge to post my photo and disapproval of my neighbors on social media and simply complained to my family instead. Maybe next time I’ll not be so easily frustrated, assume positive intent, and come home in a much better mood to my family.

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