Last year, at this time, we talked about giving ourselves a gift that would ensure happiness throughout 2016.
The gift is the joy we feel when we provide Random Acts of Kindness and to make this practice a part of our daily lives.
Over the course of this past year I have spoken to a few people who undertook this as a serious commitment and actively sought daily opportunities to deliver random acts of kindness. Each spoke of how they gained far more than did the recipients of their kind acts.
Today, Christmas Eve, as we gather with friends and family to enjoy the season, reflect on the present year and plan for the next one, may I suggest another gift we might consider for ourselves.
Many years ago I was blessed to have as a teacher, a man whose life was dedicated to making the world a better place one person at a time. He freely and generously shared his wisdom and gave time to all who embraced his views and wished to learn his viewpoints and practices.
During one of our sessions a name was mentioned and I remember I was scathing in my absolute condemnation of that person. I do not recall who we were talking about, but I do recall the intensity of my judgement.
My mentor allowed me to complete my rant and then said something so profound that to this day I remember every word.
He said, “You can never be truly free until you are willing to set aside your own willingness to judge others.”
A powerful statement.
Those words have bounced around my head for more than 30 years. I would like to be able to tell you that I took those words to heart and have succeeded in both complete acceptance and absence of judgement with everyone I encounter.
The truth is, I haven’t. I have worked hard over a very long time to set aside that willingness to judge and I know that I do so far less often, and with less intensity than in the past. I also know that I have not succeeded in completely removing either my willingness or ability to judge others.
Many of us are quick to criticize and to judge and it seems to me that when we do so, we do so comparatively in that by judging and criticizing others we are suggesting to ourselves that “I would never do that.”
Often, when waiting at a traffic light, I will see a panhandler walking amongst the waiting cars imploring drivers to donate some money. It is not uncommon to see a window roll down and to then hear an angry voice yelling profanities.
I would be lying if I said I have not had similar thoughts. While I have never hurled insults, I have frequently gone into judgement mode, with highly critical thoughts floating around my head.
My reason for suggesting the gift we give ourselves this Christmas season is the Gift of Nonjudgment, is because – unlike the gift of Random Acts of Kindness which fills us with good feelings each time we reach out with kindness to others – all the time we spend in harsh and critical judgement of others is time spent draining our souls of positive and uplifting energy.
Most often when we judge people, we know nothing of them. We don’t know their stories, yet feel justified in leveling criticism at them.
Relinquishing our willingness to judge others frees up a tremendous amount of energy to do some important things that can enrich our lives and the lives of those around us.
A much used and widely circulated quote attributed to many different authors informs us that resentment/hatred/anger/judgement/bearing a grudge, etc “It is like drinking poison and hoping they will die.”
Judgement does nothing to or for the person being judged and yet it robs us of our humanity and clouds our thoughts and perspectives.
Yet again I will be gift-wrapping the Gift of Nonjudgment and placing it under the tree for myself.
How about you?
Till we read again.