My brother is one of the most caring people I know. If ever I need anything, he will gladly make time to help figure it out. On more than one occasion he has reached out to me before I even knew I needed help with something! Brothers just know sometimes. In all this kindness and strength my brother has a few rules, the first may not have been created by him but it is one that he definitely lives out.
What is Rule #1, you might ask? Well, here it is, in all its glory:
To put it another way, choosing kindness as our default attitude towards anything. Simple, right? Maybe in theory, but if we think on it a bit harder, it’s much more difficult in practice. I know I fail at it almost every day.
When I look at the dishes in the sink and feel annoyed the person who made them didn’t deal with them? I have disregarded Rule #1. I don’t know if they were in a hurry to do something important. It’s good they had time to eat. I need to remember I leave dishes on the bench too, maybe less often than some people, but I still do it.
When I get angry at work for somebody else shifting workload to me I think they could have done? I have disregarded Rule #1. Maybe they value my input and know I can do the work well. Maybe they have other projects with tight deadlines, and I have more time at that moment. I know there are times I look to shift work for others to do instead. Sometimes for the right reasons, others times because it seems like a difficult problem to solve.
When I get too big for my boots and start voicing discontent for how people are playing ultimate frisbee ineffectively? I have disregarded Rule #1. Maybe there are better ways to play, but there is more than one way. I’ve been playing fifteen years and maybe they are newer to the game. The way they are playing might help them to improve their skills at a speed that suits them and encourage discovery of new ways to play that no one yet knows about! I know a lot about how to play ultimate effectively, and I have a good strategic mind for the game, but I don’t know everything. Far from it.
There’s a quote I’ve been circling back a lot these past few months because it strongly resonates with me. And, it applies really to situations like those I’ve mentioned in this post.
“All I know is my life is better when I assume everyone is doing their best. It frees me from judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.”Brené Brown
It is all too easy for us to judge the actions of others because of how we would do something. Everyone is different, and if no one tried new things this world would be a less interesting place to live. Speak up whether we think we can help, but be ok if our advice isn’t taken. We must also keep our mind open to the possibility we might be wrong, and admit it when we are.
We can also turn annoyance anger inwards, thinking we should be doing better. This quote applies to how we perceive ourselves, too. Some days we will be disappointed at our lack of progress towards our goals, or actions we took that were detrimental to others. At the time we were doing our best with what we had on hand at the time. Maybe we hadn’t slept enough? Maybe we hadn’t eaten enough? Maybe we were annoyed about something else and projected it outwards? Maybe there was no easily definable reason? What matters is we acknowledge our failure to stick to Rule #1, and the ability we have to be better going into the future.
A slightly different way this manifests for me is undervaluing my abilities. I do this all the time, seldom thinking I have the skills required to be able to accomplish something. The song I’m recording at the moment is a great example. When I spend too much time thinking about how much work there is I worry I am not a good enough guitar player or vocalist to complete it. When I dive straight in, I lose myself in the process and my creativity takes over. A lesson I would do well to follow in many areas of my life. Commit my focus and energy to where I am and who I’m with in the moment, not the “what ifs”. The friends I’m with have made the time to be there so in directing my focus elsewhere, I’m choosing to say other things are more important. What does this mean? You guessed it, I have disregarded Rule #1.
In summary, be kind. We won’t agree all the time, but there are good ways to communicate this disagreement to try and better understand one another. Sometimes we’ll even disagree with our own mind. Be at peace with this and try to understand why, so we can make tomorrow what it needs to be. Progress for project goals, and a place to cast away unnecessary thoughts and actions to make room for healthy new beginnings.
When is a time you failed at Rule #1? How did you reconcile this with yourself?
Go well into the impending end of year season. Peace to you and those you hold dear, wonderful and faithful reader.