You would be shocked at how much of your life is invested in noting how other people could be better. You’re like a sports commentator on duty 24/7. You analyze how they dress, do their hair, how they talk, or what they know, or how they approach their job or driving or child-rearing. You have umpteen opinions on all of that stuff. But those opinions are just thoughts. Those thoughts accomplish nothing other than dosing you with the chemistry for dissatisfaction and upset. They have no actual affect on anyone but you. So since you feel the downsides and there is no upside… why would you allow yourself to continue doing it when all that’s required is that you learn to stop?
That’s most of what I write about: how to stop your constant barrage of opinions about how you want things to be different than they are. Because you think that your life would be better if other people behaved differently. But I’m here to tell you that your life only gets better when you think differently. If you’re in a constant I-gotta-get-exactly-what-I-want-or-I’m-not-happy state that most egos live in most of the time, then you are doomed to have an unpleasant, even agonizing existence. People are individuals, which means they each have their own personality which in turn means that they will each make unique choices, which in turn means they are likely to eventually disagree with you. This does not make either you or them wrong. It makes you individuals. To find peace you simply must accept that we all literally live in separate realities.
You can do two very simple things and your life will change enormously. The first is to shut off your inner sportscaster. Half the “players” you’re judging are injured anyway, and you’re comparing everyone—including yourself—to unrealistic ideals. You have no idea how much energy they have, or how many distractions they have, you don’t know if they’re in pain physically or if they’re emotionally suffering…. So change your life by stopping all the judging. You do it a lot so it’ll take a while. But if you keep switching from complaints to compliments, it’ll be a habit that will serve you well until the day you die.
The second thing is to take that energy you used to use to judge everyone, and use it to be grateful instead. Instead of loading your consciousness up with wants and opinions, use it to absorb things to be grateful for. It’s not hard. Just take whatever you’re doing and imagine it being done in the year 1900. A good percentage of the materials your life is made out of didn’t even exist back then. Water, light, heat. Very simple things get super complex if you go back that far. Or imagine having no money. Or poor health. These are not easy things. So be grateful for your life and your mind will experience gratitude. And that is much better than experiencing frustrated judgment.
I’m sorry that spiritual and psychological health it doesn’t feel like jumping off a cliff and flying. I’m sorry that it isn’t some instant salve that you just lay over yourself and it’s done. It’s a practice. Every day you have to eschew judgment of others in favour of gratitude for your own life. You’ll never do it all the time, but that’s okay because there can’t be a path unless there’s not-path too. But don’t walk on the thorns of dissatisfaction for long. The path is always waiting. You just need to take a few steps through gratitude to get there.
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.