Everyone is doing their best, all the time.
Everyone is doing their best. Seriously? Do I really believe that? Is this a huge joke? Are you laughing hilariously?
How can I say that when a quick look around readily identifies people who are abusing their bodies with food, tobacco, and sedentary habits? Let alone those who are abusing children and spouses behind closed doors. And what about those who max out credit cards with impulse purchases, or those who show up late for work routinely and then wonder why they’re let go?
Do I really believe these people are doing their best?
I do, and here’s why.
I don’t intentionally do stupid things. Yet I do stupid things. I make poor choices that, at the time, seem like great choices—the operative words are “at the time”. Sure, someone observing my choice(s) may have (more than once) told me that I was making a bad mistake. But you know how much we listen to others, especially when we’re young and full of life and superiority.
I maintain that no one intentionally chooses to do something that is not in their best interests; at the time, each person’s choice seems a perfectly logical, “good” choice.
Making Good Choices
As with most thinking human beings over the age of thirty or so, I look back at decisions and choices that I’ve made, cringing with the knowledge that I should have known better. But I didn’t. At the time, I was doing my very best. Thinking my clearest thoughts, weighing my options with clarity and maturity, being sure I was doing the right thing. Or just jumping ahead fueled by the drives of youth.
We all are doing our very best at each moment of time. It may not be the very best we can ever do. It may not be the best for the version of us five years in the future, but it is the best now. What’s the point?
When we forget that everyone is doing their best, even when we know we’re comparing them to some standard of human perfection seldom achieved, we miss much of what life has to offer, namely:
Life is good, life is bountiful, life is easier when I practice the qualities of compassion, tolerance, understanding, and unconditional love. Sitting in judgment of others brings forth into my life a different, self-diminishing set of qualities:
Being judgmental of others is not only a waste of time, it’s a zero-sum game which makes life more difficult and undermines the natural loving state of our souls.
I can be as judgmental as the next person, perhaps even more so. It’s so easy to observe the choices another person makes and see clearly that the result they’re going to experience isn’t going to be a good one. Labeling the person as stupid, immature, ignorant, or mentally deficient diminishes that person in our eyes. Perhaps that’s why we do it, to feel superior.
The irony of judgmental behavior is that it does as much or more harm to the judge as the person being judged. Being judgmental makes life hard, so much harder than it needs to be, or was intended to be. Being compassionate, tolerant, and understanding, on the other hand, frees us to align with our soul’s intention—unconditional love.
Even though I may feel somewhat superior when pronouncing my judgments, even if only to myself, the irony of this is that I’m making my own life harder than need be. Life is tough enough without complicating it by installing ourselves as judge and jury over the worth of others. Once I define another person with a label I’m bound up by the need to continue to justify it.
So in addition to the normal efforts of my own life, I am now obligated to continually observe and re-assess another person’s life. I’m faced with filtering what I see by the label I’ve assigned to reinforce my superior judgment. And then I expend even more effort when I feel it necessary to flaunt my superior judgments to my friends, hoping they’ll agree with me.
Be Compassionate and Life is Easier
Coming to recognize the futility of judgmental behavior has made my life easier. It allows me to practice unconditional love, which is a blessing I encourage you to experience. Thinking of another person with unconditionally loving thoughts frees me of the bonds tying me to another person’s behavior. I no longer have to expend the energy to monitor, assess, and confirm earlier judgments. I can observe, recognize the person is struggling, but unless I am asked to help, or feel obliged by my relationship to offer assistance, I can simply observe from a backdrop of unconditional love.
Laughing Face image courtesy Flikr user usb