Most of us wouldn’t mind having an ego if it was nicer to us, but for some reason we often replay internal recordings of other people’s negative views rather than their positive views. This is really quite a remarkable tilt to your psyche considering the fact that you can get ten compliments and only one criticism and you’ll constantly replay that one criticism inside your own head while you ignore all the compliments.
Most people can’t even cite the positive views that others have of them because they ignore those. But they can remember criticisms from a decade or three earlier. People’s entire adult lives can be dedicated to trying to quash an early criticism. But you’re not supposed to be perfect. That would not only be boring, but it would also stress out everyone around you.
Of course, we don’t want to act as negative weight in our relationships, but your friends are people who recognise what you add to their lives and they’ve silently agreed to endure your more challenging aspects in return for the upsides of your company. That’s a form of unconditional love. They might occasionally be frustrated by one quality or another, but if they’re hanging around it’s not because they’re contracted to, it’s because they truly think you’re worth it.
Your friends are people you trust, so why not trust them about you too? If they think you’re worth hanging around then why don’t you? It’s not egotistical to be pleased that people love you and that you add good things to their lives. Being funny is no small thing, nor is being compassionate, or accepting, or supportive. So why focus on the few times you might lose your temper, or say something you later regret? Your friends have their faults too and you don’t look at them that way. Why do it to you?
So the point is to stop reciting your own weaknesses to yourself and to focus more on your strengths. Likewise, you want treat those around you the same. Once we’re all consistently modelling that behaviour every kid will grow up in that world and they’ll think it’s normal to give compliments and to forgive people for also having qualities that a few others might find challenging.
Well today I’ve got you cornered. The one thing I can count on you is for you to be self-critical, so if I tie your March of Kindness assignment to that addiction, I can be assured you’ll actually do a lot of kind things today, and since compliments are good for people this can be a really meaningful day.
Today, keep your eye out for any criticism of yourself or another. No matter who you directed it at, your job is to counter that judgment by focusing on a quality. This means that, following every self-criticism, you either note something you’ve done that had real value; and if it’s regarding someone else, then give them a compliment, and if they’re not handy, then compliment any other person. It all goes into the karmic pool, so no kindness is wasted.
Listen to your own thoughts and words. Every single time, pay the price and do something nice. If you were mean to yourself, remind yourself of something good you’ve done or do. If you attack anyone else, even if only in the confines of your own mind, then externalise positivity where your negativity once was.
This can mean complimenting someone on their politeness, or their humour, their helpfulness or their dedication to their family–it doesn’t really matter. The idea is that we’re training ourselves to be kind rather than critical. And if you want to see the world change fast, just get everyone to actually do that.
I’ll start us off. I’d like to compliment you all on reading this, because if you are it’s because you both want to be a better person and you want a better world. That is awesome. Thank you so much for just being that kind of person, because only the people who focus on positive change will make it happen.
Go out there today and compliment yourself and others. It can become quite addictive once you see the reactions on the people around you. And if you’re going to have an addiction, that’s the one to have.
Have a wonderful day everyone. And thanks for participating in the March of Kindness.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.