Our emotional desires can be boiled down to love and acceptance. Unsurprisingly, the importance of which cannot be overstated in literature, art, and all forms of entertainment. On a personal level, we understand the importance of love and acceptance in their bitter deprivation and rejection.
Oftentimes, I felt unloved and rejected from society. It’s the type of experience that gradually breeds a cynical perspective of the world that truly is not representative. I would be taken aback by random acts of kindness and acceptance that came my way, without logic or reason.
Isn’t that strange? Why do we need a reason to treat people well? Admittedly, I used to think of kindness as an exchange. If you do X, then I’ll do Y. That mindset completely dismisses the inherent randomness and uncertainty of the universe. It assumes that the world is orderly, predictable, and fair—which it definitely isn’t.
Despite that we may experience reciprocated ‘good’, we all face undeserved ‘bad’. That is to be expected, unfortunately, but we must understand that we are not defined by opinions. Regardless of our race, religion, class, hair color, clothes, intelligence, appearance, etc., we are not defined by any one of those metrics as a whole person. Therefore, it is nonsensical to impose that same judgment onto another or to accept someone else’s judgment as necessarily valid.
I have found that we readily accept those similar to us, which unknowingly excludes people who are different. As a book enthusiast and lover of philosophy and neuroscience, I am drawn to people with similar interests. Others may run in the opposite direction as a result of our differing interests. A critical lesson I have learned is that people often don’t think about how their actions could hurt others, and that their actions are not as personal as they seem.
Understanding our own biases is critical to overcoming our limits of perception and becoming more loving and accepting. Try to understand why you believe what you believe about people. See if you can overturn those beliefs by having open-minded conversations, rather than avoiding someone altogether based on unreliable judgments.
Our tendency to criticize is a mimicked behavior that we picked up from our parents and teachers and peers. Keeping in mind that the feedback we receive is typically out of goodwill, the message that we receive is that we aren’t good enough. That cyclical behavior continues in how we treat others. Breaking that cycle requires a great deal of love and acceptance in our lives, but it is possible and worth it.
We must understand that we can only control our actions and thoughts. Learning to accept those around you is a crucial step in accepting yourself; it’s a spillover effect flows into all aspects of your life. Approving of all habits and behaviors is not a necessity, as self-improvement and gentle feedback are positive aspects of life. Focusing on the good in people is the goal. Remember, as Stephen Covey once said: “You don’t see the world as it is, but how you are yourself.”
Love comes from true understanding and acceptance. Hate and prejudice come from the assumption of understanding. There needn’t be a reason to act kindly or in an accepting manner, but if I were to give you one, it would be that our thoughts are like mirrors.