What would the world be like were the appropriate response to be given in every circumstance by every person?
Some might argue that life in such a world would be bland, free of the friction, dissonance, and drama that makes life “interesting.” Others might dread such a state, fearing the level of responsibility that would have to be assumed for it to become a reality. My own impression is that the world created would be much more caring, reverent, and safe than the world we have created for ourselves using a lower standard.
Forget grandiose thoughts of what the world would be like for a moment. What would your life be like were you to respond appropriately more often than you do now? For starters, you’d probably regret less, forgive more, and be more at peace. It’s probably safe to safe that you would be a more agreeable person to be around on your “bad” days and those days would occur less often. I imagine, too, that the negative aspects of your personality and as a result your reputation, would slowly but surely be recast in a more positive light.
The next obvious question, if you agree with what I’ve said so far, “where do I start?” Now to my mind, no matter how wonderful or terrible your life has been up to this point, you have been given the greatest gift a person could be given: the gift of life. Even if you are having a bad day, week, month or decade, that gift is constantly being given to you. Were it not, you wouldn’t be there thinking about it, would you?
Now you don’t have to live very long to know that receiving this gift with ingratitude, disdain, bitterness, complaint, and a host of other negative attitudes is likely to send you and your life and your relationships tumbling downward. Nobody really wants that, though hundreds of millions of people have found themselves on that slippery slope through the ages, despite the fact that it is completely unnecessary to spend your life in a state of perpetual misery or in the fear of impending doom.
There really is only one appropriate response to the gift of life: appreciation. No matter what comes your way, you can first give thanks for the privilege of the gift of life. From there you can give that gift to others. When you stop beating the world around you on the head to set them straight, you quickly find that appreciation works far better at greasing and opening locked and closed hearts than the other, more hurtful alternatives like anger, pettiness, disdain, disparagement, and so on.
Where the underlying attitude is appreciation, there is no room for “he said, she said”, no need for barricades and barrages, no need to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. Appreciation is the high stance in which you can acknowledge differences without sacrificing commonalities.
The next time you are faced with a situation, conversation, or thought that triggers a tightening of your heart, consider these words and this approach. Take whatever time you need (there is typically more time available than you might think) to bring to focus your appreciation for something, anything so that you can be light on your toes from the start, rather than digging your heels in and preparing for a fight. I guarantee, without qualification that this will change the course of history for you, if not for the world.