We are, without a doubt, an interesting animal, we humans. We have few young, and tend to them with meticulous care through an extended childhood. We have an opposable thumb, which, in turn, allows us to do a huge variety of tasks with our upper limbs especially true because of our thinner, longer and straighter fingers that allow for fine motor skills. Though I’m sure you’ve come across notable exceptions, we are mostly naked and hairless and have tons of sweat glands. We wear shoes and clothing. We can blush. We are skilled at abstract thought (thinking of things that are not currently present) and symbolic thinking. We are capable of building physical models, not just of buildings wherein we gain protection from the environment but also models of ideas and concepts. We are capable of higher contemplation, and self-transformation. We have the ability to use forethought. We are capable of empathy.
We are also capable of horrific acts against one another. We can be deliberately mean-spirited and selfish. We can be moody, anxious, and neurotic. When tasked, we hoard our skills and knowledge so as to create “job-security.” We view minorities and vulnerable as lesser. We are adept at taking pleasure in the distress of others, especially if we think they deserved it. In the same light, we believe in karma. We are vain and overconfident. We are often hypocrites. We are blind to the flaws of those we look up to.
We are just as capable at building others up, though. What if we tried to do just that? What if we spent energy on thinking positive thoughts about others? There are very few suggestions that I give you that will completely change your outlook; if you give this an honest try, this will.
Try this: deliberately focus on your reaction to other people. Most of the time, this is an automatic response on your part; your brain figures out if the person walking towards you is “friend,” “neutral,” or “foe.” Clearly, your response to the former and the latter will be very different; will you be happy to see them or run away in fear? For the neutral party, we can probably assume the individual will be irrelevant to you, and they will simply walk by. Except they don’t really. These are the ones we should be paying attention to. What does your mind tell you about that irrelevant person? Do they notice a particular characteristic (e.g. fat, thin, tall, scraggly, tired-looking)? Do you automatically jump to uncharitable thoughts? Why does this even matter? I’ll tell you: these thoughts start to permeate your attitude, and color your internal dialog. These negative thoughts start to dictate your actions. These thoughts start to be your M.O: I think negatively, so I act negatively. In turn, others start treating you negatively.
Well, that’s no fun.
What if, instead, when you see that neutral person, you bring a kind or positive thought into your mind? What if you did that for everyone you saw? What if you trained your mind to think the best of people, best for people … and the best for yourself? What if this positivity habit were as easy to adopt as your own as a few minutes of deliberate focus and thoughts?
Try this: when you are out and about or around a number of people, spend time – 10 minutes – deliberately thinking positive or kind thoughts about everyone you see. Do this deliberately for 10 minutes every day for a week. You will be surprised at how your self-dialogue and your frame of mind will improve and be more positive. You will be surprised at how much easier it will be, every day. And you will be surprised at how it will start to become an automatic thought process by the end of the week.
Your brain WANTS to be happy. Your brain wants to think positive thoughts. Your brain wants to be satisfied and optimistic. Let’s go ahead and let it.