This post was originally written by Leo Babauta for Zen Habits. Republished here with permission.
We are all judgmental. Yes, even you. 😉 I certainly am, many times. I think it’s human nature. And yet, while it is in our nature to be judgmental, I don’t think it’s always useful to us. We look down on others, as if we are so much better … and that creates division between people. Here’s a simple method to avoid being judgmental.
A Simple Method to Avoid Being Judgmental
Think about it for a second: we see someone, and based on their looks or actions, we pass judgment on them. Not good judgment, either. Usually without even knowing the person. And that’s it — that’s usually the extent of our interaction with that person. We don’t make an effort to get to know the person, or understand them, or see whether our judgment was right or not.
And let’s consider what happens when we pass judgment on people we do know. We see something they do, and get angry at it, or disappointed in the person, or think worse of them. We judge, without understanding. And that’s the end of it — we don’t try to find out more, and through communication begin to understand, and through understanding begin to build a bridge between two human beings.
Can you build a bridge with every single person you meet? Probably not. That takes time and effort, two things we’re usually short on anyways. But I’ve found that taking that extra time, even just once a day, can make a huge difference.
Avoid passing judgment and instead build a bridge between two human beings.
If you’re interested in that, let’s take a look at one method I’ve been using. I call it the “DUAL” method. I know, acronyms for methods are corny, but so what? 🙂 This method is corny already, but sometimes corny is a good thing.
Here’s the DUAL method:
Don’t pass judgment. If you find yourself being judgmental, stop yourself. This takes a greater awareness than we usually have, so the first step (and an important one) is to observe your thoughts for a few days, trying to notice when you’re being judgmental. This can be a difficult step. Remind yourself to observe.
Once you’re more aware, you can then stop yourself when you feel yourself being judgmental. Then move to the next step.
Understand. Instead of judging someone for what she’s done or how he looks, try instead to understand the person. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to imagine their background. If possible, talk to them. Find out their backstory. Everyone has one. If not, try to imagine the circumstances that might have led to the person acting or looking like they do.
Accept. Once you begin to understand, or at least think you kind of understand, try to accept. Accept that person for who he is, without trying to change him. Accept that she will act the way she does, without wanting her to change. The world is what it is, and as much as you try, you can only change a little bit of it. It will continue to be as it is long after you’re gone. Accept that, because otherwise, you’re in for a world of frustration.
Love. Once you’ve accepted someone for who he is, try to love him. Even if you don’t know him. Even if you’ve hated him in the past. Love him as a brother, or love her as a sister, no matter who they are, old or young, light skinned or dark, male or female, rich or poor.
What good will loving someone do? Your love will likely only be limited. But it could have an effect on two people: yourself, and possibly on the person you’ve found love for. Loving others will serve to make yourself happier. Trust me on this one. And loving others can change the lives of others, if you choose to express that love and take action on it. I can’t guarantee what will happen, but it can be life-changing.