“After all, all human beings are the same - made of human flesh, bones and blood. We all want happiness and want to avoid suffering. Further, we have an equal right to be happy. In other words, it is important to realize our sameness as human beings.” - The Dalai Lama
What would happen if you started to see people as another “you?”
- Like you, they just want to be happy and they don’t want to suffer. But they don’t necessarily know how to be happy so they engage in behaviors that bring the opposite of what they desire for themselves and others. Addiction, overeating, obsessive ambition, perfectionism - the list of confused behaviors is endless and they all stem from wanting happiness, but going about it the wrong way.
- Like you, they have unconscious, deeply rooted patterns that govern much of their behavior. Half the time, they don’t know why they do what they do or can’t control the storm of emotions that dominates their life.
- Like you, their true nature is divine. But they don’t realize it. So they take their thoughts and emotions to be real and as their entire identity. Instead they could find spaciousness and ease by recognizing thoughts as ever-changing, refusing to hold onto them, and aligning with their true essence.
Deep down, everyone is really just like you with the similar confusions and the same incredible potential for good.
How to See Everyone As Another You
The holidays present boundless opportunities for added and unwanted social engagement from crowded stores to office parties to obligatory family gatherings. If you enter these situations expecting the same old or the worst, that's what you're likely to find.
And there will be plenty of irritation, agitation, boredom, or restlessness to go along with it.
But what if you saw everyone as another "you" and put yourself in their shoes? You might find curiosity, kindness, and empathy arising instead. And that could transform your entire experience for the better. For example:
- When someone’s elbowing you to get ahead at a store sale, you might remember times you pushed yourself forward and feel compassion for them.
- When someone’s stuck in the tension of perfection while decorating or preparing a celebratory meal, you might recall episodes when you couldn’t let go until you dotted the last i.
- When someone bores you at a family gathering, you might consider, what do they really need? Is it really the end of the world to be bored for a few hours? Could you simply sit and listen attentively with an open heart as a form of kindness? Could you bring up curiosity instead of shutting down and turning off?
- When someone gets drunk, you might wonder what pain they’re attempting to drown with alcohol. That doesn’t mean you accept unruly behavior, but you can still open your heart to their suffering.
You Reap What You Sow
If we really understood how the world works, we would naturally be compassionate whatever situation occurred. We would know in the depth of our hearts that harming others brings harm, helping others brings goodness. This universal reality is called “karma” by some or “you reap what you sow” by others.
The results may not always be immediate or obvious, but sometimes they are. That can give you confidence in this fundamental truth. For example, when you treat someone badly, even though it may be unintended, they often respond in kind and you end up with a mess on your hands. Has that happened to you?
Whether you see the results right away or not, they are inevitable. It's up to you to choose the result you would like to see and adjust your behavior accordingly.
Use the Cognitive Mind to Grow Compassion
Often compassion is not our first response. That's because we usually have a strong habit of self-protection and the concern of self-interest at the forefront of our mind. So we’re more likely to respond with aversion, dislike, anger, self-righteousness or another negative emotion when challenged by trying personal encounters.
But compassion doesn’t have to be an occasional emotional affair, stirred by the site of unusual suffering. You can use your cognitive mind in the ways cited above to help you open your heart and keep it tender. You'll have to train your mind in compassion if you would like this emotion to be your automatic fallback.
This isn’t just for the other person’s benefit either.
When you feel more love and compassion, you feel more relaxed, open, and spacious. When you begin to see people as another “you,” your heart softens, your perspective changes, and gradually you liberate yourself from your own negativity and aggression.
You win too.
Compassion doesn’t mean you put up with unacceptable behavior personally or globally. Compassion, however, provides the space to see better solutions, the chance to connect heart to heart, and the opportunity for positive change to occur.
- The power of understanding and compassion can liberate a nation. Think of Gandhi.
- The power of understanding and compassion can free a people. Think of Nelson Mandela.
- The power of understanding and compassion can save a child’s life. Think of Mother Theresa.
But you don’t have to be legendary to bring goodness to others. Your every thought, word, and action can make a difference in someone's life.
“If you consider others just the same as yourself, it will help you to open up your relationships and give them a new and richer meaning. Imagine if societies and nations began to view each other in the same way; at least we would have the beginnings of a solid basis for peace on earth and the happy coexistence of all peoples.” - Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
Compassion begins by seeing everyone as another "you." [Click to Tweet]
So try to use every opportunity the holidays present as a way to train your mind and heart in compassion. If you do, you'll have a far different experience.
Do you see people as another "you." Do you think it would make a difference in your life?
P. S. As the holidays heat up are you heating up too? Maybe it's the time to give yourself the gift of ease. Check out my signature e-course: Living with Ease: 30 Days to Less Stress.
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