We need a sense of belonging to one humanity, respecting the rights and views of others. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
To me, this quote is about not being a jerk. On the individual level, this is especially important. Being human often means having to decide what is important. It’s easy to choose self over others.
While deciding in favor of yourself may be a valid choice, if you always decide to take care of yourself before others, you just might be getting a tiny bit selfish, right? If you are always choosing self, you will start to lose sight of the rights and views of others.
This also applies to larger groups of people. Whether it’s a tribe, a gang, or a country, it is easy to decide that you and your people need something, and simply disregard the needs, rights, and views of others.
That is what this quote is reminding us to remember. If we consider all of humanity to be part of us, and part of our tribe, our attitude changes, and with it, our behavior towards others.
Why is behaving well towards others important?
If you haven’t seen it in person, you’ve seen it on TV shows or in the movies or even on various video showing websites. The battle of the toddlers over a toy. Sometimes we adults do it with a bit more grace, but from the outside looking in, it is often hard to tell the difference. That’s a sad state of affairs.
Most of us do better than that, at least most of the time. But we all have our hot-button issues. Whether it is someone cutting into line ahead of us (have you ever noticed how little most people care when someone cuts in behind them?) or people doing the same thing on the roadways, we have a decision to make. Will we behave as children or adults?
That doesn’t mean we have to accept bad behavior on the part of others, it just means that we should probably not respond with bad behavior ourselves. There are many ways to respond in most situations. The question we need to answer is which shall we choose? There are ways to respond to these people which do not require us to sink to their level, right?
Our behavior is one of the few things over which we have complete control. Yes, our personal values influence our choice of action. Our societal values and preferences exert some influence as well. But in the end, it is our decision to make, and our consequences to bear. Shall we behave like grown up people, or shall we behave like children?
Where can I apply this in my life?
I imagine we’ve all had melt-down type moments. Things have been going any way but ours for a day or more, and we’re fed up. Then someone gets on our last nerve and we explode. Suddenly we’re two years old again, and they were mean to us. Even if they weren’t, we perceived their actions in that manner, and are reacting.
Which brings us to an interesting pair of words. Are you going to “react appropriately” or will you “react inappropriately” to the situation? In the heat of the moment, it may be difficult to differentiate between them, but from the outside looking in, it is usually pretty obvious which is which, right?
So our behavior depends on our moods, or our moods influence our behaviors, right? I have found it to be true, as have everyone else with whom I spoke. So the question becomes how to improve our behaviors by improving our moods. It might not be easy, but neither was your first push-up or chin-up, right? It just takes some practice.
Have you ever met someone who seemed unflappable? No matter what happened, they kept their cool? That is what I think would be a good goal for the long term. But in the mean time, what we need to do is to tamp down the most extreme of our moods. That starts by determining what they are, and what triggers them.
So, with that in mind, what tends to set you off? It usually will start with having already had a bad day/week/month/year, but still, you don’t go off on anything and everything. What specifically sets you off? Is it a lack of respect from others? Is it their selfish or stupid behavior? What is it you just cannot stand?
For me, it tends to be based on the disrespect or complete lack of though on the part of the other person. Cutting in line? Driving badly? Saying stupid things? Those are what tend to get me a little hot under the collar. I try not to let it get to me, but sometimes it does. Especially after a tough day, it can be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Now that you have some idea as to what can cause you to lose your composure and reenter your childhood in a less than spectacular way, we need to think about how to prevent it from happening. Could you avoid your triggers? Possibly. But will you grow, will you become stronger, if you do that? I don’t think so. I suggest that you face it, and learn to be stronger.
How do you do that? I started by making excuses for them. They just don’t know any better. They were never taught manners when they were little. They simply aren’t bright enough to figure that out. While that’s not a very kind way to treat them, even if it’s just in your head, you can see how easy it is to pity them, and even forgive their transgressions.
Would that make it easier to not get too angry? It helped me. But ultimately, we want to help them make better choices in the future. How can you broach the subject, and how do you discuss that with them? A lot depends on the situation, but educating them is a way to help them live this quote as well.