Daraius: We’ve got a great team at Million Mile Secrets helping with posts. But I miss writing as much as I did in the old days! So here I am writing about stuff that I really care about. And which isn’t all miles-and-points related.
Know that everyone has a sense of basic humanity – even the person acting like a complete jerk right now would probably rescue a child in danger. – Dr. Stosny
I’ve read Dr. Stosny’s books and attended his workshop on how to turn anger and resentment into compassion. I’m always inspired by his message that valuing someone or something leads to much more contentment than blaming or being angry about someone or something.
Disagreeing Respectfully Is Powerfully Peaceful
I was surprised and shocked to read that 59% of Americans and 72% of children report feeling anxious after the recent presedential election.
One of the most surprising things to me about the US, as an immigrant, is that folks get really, really upset about elections and politics. I’ve lived & travelled in places where the most unpopular US politician would be a mere dilettante and folks would scarcely raise an eyebrow.
Dr. Stosny writes:
Anxious times seem to bring out the worst in people. They make us intolerant of disagreement, divide us into factions, and, in the worst case, lead us to demonize those who seem different. We can hardly speak without using negative labels. In anxious times, we seek to devalue rather than understand.
Sure, folks in those countries complain vociferously about their politicians. But those differences are put aside when folks connect with their family and friends. Many of them seem to have an innate understanding that connection with people as humans is much more important than being “right” about the choice of politician.
So I feel sad to see the current social environment in the US where folks openly feel disgusted, hostile, and very angry toward those who don’t hold similar opinions. Even their neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family.
I understand that folks are scared and vulnerable, and that gives way as anger and disparagement. But I feel scared because it isn’t very compassionate or efficient.
Dehumanizing Folks Who Feel Differently Hurts Me
Dr. Stosny suggests an experiment over the next 2 weeks or longer to develop a sense of well-being and peace.
– Be proactive rather than reactive. Replace: “I’ll be respectful to you if you agree with me and validate my worldview,” with, “I’ll be respectful to you because it’s the right thing to do and will make it more likely that you’ll be respectful to someone else, who then may be respectful to yet another person.”
– Know that everyone has a sense of basic humanity – even the person acting like a complete jerk right now would probably rescue a child in danger.
– Realize that you raise self-value by valuing others and lower it by devaluing others.
– Recognize that most people are more frail than cruel.
– Do some small thing every day to make the world a better place – a small act of compassion or kindness.
I especially like the suggestion that being respectful of someone who does NOT agree with my own worldview isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, it is much more likely to ensure that more folks are respectful of others.
Oftentimes I find it easy to blame someone and to get angry and to devalue others. But as Dr. Stosny points out, even someone acting like a complete jerk (likely because he or she is unable to express or get to the emotions beneath the anger) would probably save a child in distress.
Ultimately, I get to choose what type of world I create. And I’d rather create a world where I am compassionate towards folks (especially those who act in ways that I find distressing).
I know this is hard – especially when the person in front of me is taking a long time to order food when I’m starving. 🙂