Resolving to be Less Judgmental and a Wee Bit More Positive

How to stop being so judgmental and start manufacturing kinder, gentler excuses for all those %$#!@ drivers who blast through the red

Credit: mrtopp

Sneering at the idiots who surround you can become addictive

I can be a tad judgmental.

Friends have kindly called me an educator, which is a polite way of saying that I like telling people what to do. Sometimes my educating ways work well (my job), other times not so much so (on the bus).

Recently, though, I started judging, well, my own judgmental streak. I had to admit it: hydrochloric was less acid than the way I characterized the litterers, idlers and fools who had the misfortune to cross my path in a day. Not only were my opinions souring my milk of human kindness, they were self-fulfilling: people treated like idiots generally don’t respond with the best humanity has to offer.

A Kinder, Gentler Approach

It wasn’t humanly possible for me to edit out my negative opinions, but I could always counteract them. Whenever anyone annoyed me, I decided, I’d think up a good reason for them to do such a thing.

So as the Hummer blasted through the red, driver’s phone clamped to his ear, I’d replace my initial reaction – screaming epithets descriptive of fossil fuel irresponsibility, illegal cellphone use and the mowing down of infants in strollers – with a kinder, gentler one.

“The poor dear,” I’d tell myself, “he’s just gotten the call. His heart transplant is available, but only if he gets there in the next fifteen minutes.” There were an awful lot of heart transplants taking place around Vancouver in the weeks that followed, it seems.

Positive Thoughts on Autopilot

The goal of any change is that it becomes automatic. Pretty soon (okay, months in) I didn’t have to prompt myself: the second, sweeter thought would come unbidden.

“Maybe she’s blind,” in response to a riot of clashing colours on a passerby. “He’s distracted because he just got the news that someone he loves very much died,” when a guy shoved in front of me in an entrance, then let the door slam in my face.

Aesop had it wrong: familiarity, or the facsimile, breeds not contempt but compassion. I’ve gotten to know a little old cuss who rides a motor scooter in my neighbourhood. Today I saw her on the street, and motioned her over to the side.

“You should be on the sidewalk,” I shouted, as driver after driver carefully maneouvered into the oncoming lane, giving her a wide berth. She shook her head. I like being on the road, she mouthed. Behind her, no doubt, drivers were inventing heart transplants as fast as they could think them up. I just shrugged and wished her Godspeed.