How to See the Good in Others

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” — Maya Angelo

When you see someone, what do you notice?

Our day-to-day interactions with the people around us are a lot different from what it used to be. It seems now that our interactions with others are comprised of a quick “hello” or even just a glance. We just bounce off each other and move on. Do we ever take a second to really see and understand one another?

Despite the fact that we have meaningless encounters, we are really quick to notice the “bad” qualities of an individual, pass judgements and become quite critical. It seems like it’s much easier to complain about what we don’t like than to appreciate what we do like.

Seeing the negativity in our social and political sphere intensifying day after day, has made me aware of a simple thing: we don’t see the good in each other. I understand that systemic discrimination and its roots of stereotypes, ignorance, and prejudice has all led to a lot of pain in our world, however much of it could have been avoided if we chose to view each other with respect, dignity and tolerance.

Through personal experience, because I too am not immune to this negative behaviour, I have realized that negative emotions just stick better than a positive emotions. A perfect example of this is that no matter how much love we get from people that support us,  we still get upset when we read something negative about ourselves. Out of the hundreds of good comments, only one is needed to them feel worthless. This showcases the power negativity has on a person.

Passing bias and negativity towards others creates a sense of hate culture. It seems a bit naive to simplify the world’s issues into just “be nice to others”, but it is, in fact, the cornerstone of tolerance and respect. The golden rule has always been, “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Why have we forgotten this?

This year, I have made some changes in my behaviour that has enforced more positivity in my life. Once I became aware of my tendency to passing negative judgements, I began to also notice it others as well. In fact, I began to notice it in our social rhetoric. The reason we fail to recognize our negativity is that we all pass judgement like a reflex. I too, like the rest of this generation, am a part of the problem. In fact, we all always will be, however it’s important to recognize this and be on a journey to be better every day.

Personally, through self-reflection and self-awareness, I recognized that I felt gross whenever I passed any negative comments towards anyone or anything. It could be as simple as, “she’s so annoying, I hate her,” that brought a sense of unpleasantness. When we complain about someone or something we don’t like, we begin to focus on negative thoughts that reinforce the Universe to throw negativity back at us. This then puts us in a “bad place” as we keep getting what we don’t like or want in life. It’s basically the concept of the book, The Secret, or more simply put, what goes around comes around.

Our brains become so overpowered to see the “bad” when we are unconstructively critical, that we miss out on great relationships and experiences. Complaining doesn’t solve anything, but rather makes things seem bigger. I hate to say it, but sometimes I can be a professional complainer, so I know that complaints do nothing but voice frustration in a poor manner. Instead of focusing your energy effectively, we choose to be despondent and lazy.

Although this negative bias is ingrained into our psychology, seeing positive attributes in others can be done. It is an uphill battle, but it’s so rewarding. Seeing the good in others is a powerful way to feel happier, healthier and send out positive vibes into the Universe. With today’s global issues, we need all the positivity we can get. By learning to have a more positive outlook on life, we humanize ourselves and our neighbours, rather than othering them. We can change the world for a better tomorrow just by being kinder.

So without further ado, here are some tips to see the good in others:

  1. Slow down. Rather than being in a constant hurry, slow down and get curious. Ask questions, get clarifications, do research, and take off your black-and-white-coloured glasses and open your eyes to see life in colour. Rushing leads to unwarranted bias, but by slowing down, you are able to gather information and reason actual judgement. Your interactions will focus on looking for the “good” in people as well as teach you patience.
  2. Smile. This is such a simple thing to do, yet we forget at times. A smile immediately spreads positivity and puts everyone in a better mood. A smile indicates that you acknowledge someone, thus improving your awareness. A smile breaks the void and inclines people to showcase their best.
  3. Look for positive intentions. A lot of times people have the best intentions, but the way it comes across isn’t the best. Before getting angry and yelling, try and see the good intentions of the people around you. At the end of the day most people want to be happy and live in harmony, thus the underlying intention to every human action is positive. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, however, most people don’t mean to hurt someone else. Expectations sometimes aren’t met, which leads to frustration that blinds us from the intentions of another. By yelling and getting worked up, we hurt ourselves by ruining our own mood and creating a bubble of negative emotions, all while hurting someone else’s feelings with our harsh words. When we feel irritated and frustrated, take a second to breathe, seek out the good intention, and use your words effectively to get your point across. Reframing situations to see something positive is a skill.
  4. Give recognition. Our current society has grown into an ungrateful generation of people. We assume we deserve anything and everything without showing appreciation for what we do have. This is probably the result of a materialistic and capitalist culture. However, taking the time to appreciate things and people go a long way. Just by recognizing someone’s efforts and abilities does so much for their self-esteem. Acknowledging others for positive things is vital for spreading more love around the world.
  5. See positive character traits. Before you deem someone as anything negative, stop yourself. A human being is more than what you observe in a split second; they are a concoction of however many years of life and experiences. To simplify them is to do a disservice to their journey. Everyone has at least one virtue, such as patience, determination, honesty, generosity, kindness, or maybe courage. It can be a bit challenging to find it since we find literally everyone, other than us, “annoying”, but really try and practice this.
  6. Step into their shoes. When you step into someone else’s shoes, you are able to gain a better understanding of why someone is the way they are. Everyone is different and we only see what’s on the surface, but there’s more depth to a person than the outer layer. Understanding helps to relieve negativity because it helps you create a bond and connection that you make have not seen before. By stepping into someone else’s shoes you learn empathy, tolerance, and acceptance of others.
  7. Grow up. It’s easy to get worked up when people don’t live up to our expectations. However, rather than complaining about someone, just address the issue directly. If talking it out is not a solution for you, learn to let go. Letting it go can either mean just tolerating whatever it is that is bothering you or simply not associating with whatever the annoyance is.

Unfortunately for our society, seeing the good in other people is a challenging pursuit. Luckily, there are many people that are on the journey of continuously bettering themselves for not just themselves, but also others. I promise that this journey of being more positive is well worth the effort. Not only will you be spreading good vibes into the world, but undoubtedly you will be happier as well. By recognizing the good in others, you will also see the good in yourself too. Self-love is hard, however, you too will recognize your own abilities and good intentions. This will open your mind and heart to attract positive relationships and amazing opportunities.

By being more positive you will influence others and create a movement where pre-existing biases, stereotypes and prejudices are debunked by kindness and tolerance. Hopefully, this change in perspective helps us create a kinder tomorrow.


*Disclaimer: The featured image is by Olia Gozha on Unsplash.

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