Monday, May 14, 2018


A friend shared this question with me last week.

 "Generally speaking, do you believe most people are doing the best they can?"

This question, and the results of a study analyzing people’s responses, are in the book Rising Strong by Brene Brown

This question has been in my head ever since. I think the reason it made such a big dent on me is that it’s not a question I ever ask myself. In examining the world around me I tend to rely on pretty basic responses. I experience happiness when people do things that I feel are good, or that are pleasing to me personally. I experience anger, sadness, fear when people do things I think are bad, or that hurt me personally.

Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like the study of a single-celled organism being poked with a lab instrument.

"Generally speaking, do you believe most people are doing the best they can?"

In order to answer this question you have to be willing to think about why other people do what they do. You have to attempt to get out of your own head and endow other people with the humanity you allow for yourself.

I was on the receiving end of some unprovoked and inaccurate criticism online last week. It stung. I’m not sure which hurt more, the tirade itself or that no one came to my defense. Into this swirl of negative emotions came my friend’s question. It made me stop and think.

You see, I do believe, overall, that people are doing the best they can. So what does that mean when we hurt one another, or make bad choices, or fail? How does that color my perception as the single-celled organism reacting to an unwanted stimulus?

I don’t know. But I know that it does make a difference. If only because it reminds me that it’s not all about me, my feelings. My survival.

Here’s a toast to the reminder that we’re not all tiny singe-celled organisms against the world. And to the friends who remind us of that when times are tough.

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