I know someone that, every time we meet, his daily routine is to announce to the world how the minimum wage worker at the coffee shop is such a moron, people can't drive, it takes too long to buy bread because people are always chatting with the person at checkout, how stupid the rest of the world is.
For a while I would just nod, and let it go. One day I told him, "you know, I wake up every morning in a world full of geniuses. People who are younger, smarter, faster, stronger, more handsome, and more wise than me. I find it absolutely awesome that every single one of them has something to teach me. I can't imagine how horrible it must be to wake up in a world full of morons."
He stared at me for a moment, processing what I'd said, and changed the subject. After that, our relationship softened, probably because I was no longer an audience to his view of the world.
When I shared this story with someone, her reaction was how awful a person must be to look down on people this way. She clearly didn't get it. It's not about being sympathetic for toxic personalities. It's not about being okay with someone's negativity. It's about living a life of compassion, free of judgement.
Though it's a bit of a cliché, every person you meet is fighting a battle you're completely unaware of. Even the most toxic people you meet started out perfect, and their path through life has led them to where they are. Consider that they probably wake up every day dreading what lies ahead, how many idiots and morons they are going to have to deal with, what a horrible world they choose to live in.
Every one of us makes thousands of judgements every day, most of them righteous in our minds. It's what humans do. We live in a world of selfishness. A world where children die of starvation. A world in which killing for the sake of killing is common. A world where people are dying, killing, stealing, hating, fighting, and generally being assholes.
A world where the dollar is God.
Judging that the world is a Bad Place is easy. Too easy. It's easy to externalize the problems in the world. I fall into it myself sometimes (as you can see in the previous paragraph) and am so grateful my wife calls me on my bullshit.
Who wins when you allow yourself to make these judgements? Someone makes you angry with their actions, offends you with their view, who wins? You're the one who's angry, you're the one who has allowed their negativity to live in your head, rent-free. You're the one who is wasting thoughts and energy on something you have absolutely no control over.
You get to choose. That, really, is the difficult part, allowing yourself to choose what world you live in.
So how does that work? For me, this works well in two parts.
1. Change What You See
It is human nature to seek out that which supports our view of the world and who we think we are. For every horrible thing in the world there are ten that are inspiration for greatness.
For every maniac driver that cuts you off in traffic, how many let you change into their lane? For every police officer that has done wrong, how many risk their lives every single day in dedication to making the world a safer place? For every listless store clerk that treats you like a number, how many look you in the eye, greet you with a smile, and actually notice that you exist?
If we were to take notes on the events that come to us throughout a typical day (and I suggest you do,) we would see this is absolutely true. It is in our nature to cling to the negative events, and allow the positive ones to pass us by without a thought. I really don't know why that is, maybe it's because our expectation of how the world should work perceives positive events as normal, and negative events as aberrations. It doesn't matter why, really. What matters is that you start to take notice.
This leads to the second part of living in an awesome world, action.
2. Take Action
When people see inspiring events or an act of kindness, their reaction is often "we need more people like that." Maybe they're missing the point. The whole point of inspiration is a call to action sent to us by the universe to be that type of person.
It doesn't have to be huge, it doesn't have to go viral. It can be as simple as greeting someone on the street or looking someone in the eye when you say thank you (which we all need to do more often.) If a woman can be rendered paraplegic and become an inspiration to millions, imagine what you can do with both legs and a willing heart.
For myself it's like an income and debt system with the universe: if someone shares a kindness with me, I feel obligated to pay it back. How much debt have you incurred that you're not even aware of?
What world do you choose to live in today?