How does one acquire a pair of rose-tinted glasses?
April 28, 2013 5:34 PM   Subscribe

How to see the best in other people?

Hey mefi, I just noticed recently that there are some people who always focus on the best parts of other people and don't dwell or make unflattering assumptions about them... And I want to be more like that! I tend to think of people as mostly kind but self-centered and complicated. Do you guys have any practical steps for focusing on the best parts of people?
posted by dinosaurprincess to Human Relations (33 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
I am the way you want to be by nature. I am always making excuses in my mind for other people's bad behavior, be it small or large. I think that if someone is rude to me, they must be having a bad day or going through something difficult. If someone has a generally rude personality, I will feel sorry for them and (as a Christian) pray for them. I have a non-Christian friend who will send out good vibes for them.

I think it's a matter of how you CHOOSE to approach or see people and a matter of getting into the habit through practice. I'm too lazy to look it up right now, but there is a Bible passage about always putting the best face on people and thinking the best of them. That is what I'm reminded of in those situations.

I don't know if that helps, but there you go.
posted by michellenoel at 5:48 PM on April 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

I am not a "rose colored glasses" person. But I try to remember that everyone is doing the best s/he can. Even when someone's best kind of f'ing sucks, it's the best s/he can do right then. It helps to remind myself of that.
posted by atomicstone at 5:54 PM on April 28, 2013 [12 favorites]

Best answer: When I have a really negative outlook, it fucks up my social interactions and makes me judge myself more harshly. When I notice this is happening, I'll sit somewhere, say, on a bench in Chicago's Merchandise Mart, and people watch and try to come up with one positive comment/compliment about total strangers. It can be really hard, if you're used to snarking on people.

"I bet that person has a bunch of crazy stories. Those shorts are a really awesome shade of pink. I like that hat. Aww, those children made sure to hold hands as they crossed the street. That toddler is very energetic. He's a fast walker. Those shoes are cute. Dressing in that style must be very deliberate and thoughtful. That is a lot of neck tattoos, that requires dedication. Holy shit, she can really walk in crazy high heels. That panhandler has a very clear voice. That is probably the suit I would wear if a was a business dude. She's pretty. Aww, he looks really tired and I hope he gets a nap soon. Her hair is bouncy. She looks kind."

This is also a really good practice for people who obsess about their own bodies and appearance in a negative way. Learning to be less critical and kinder helps us be kinder to ourselves. On the flip side, people who are really hard on themselves also will think that gives them the right to judge others harshly.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:00 PM on April 28, 2013 [94 favorites]

Learn about the Fundamental Attribution Error. It might help you modify the way you see others.
posted by Gorgik at 6:02 PM on April 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

The trick is to learn to follow The Golden Rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you. The more you give thought to that and learn how to treat others the way you'd want them to treat you, the more you'll learn to spot the good in others rather than doing what most people seem to do, which is focusing on the bad.

The Golden Rule.
posted by 2oh1 at 6:03 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have bad days and occasionally terrible days, so I assume people are like me: mostly decent and sometimes stretched a little thin. I also think a lot about this zen story. Sort of light to the point of platitude almost , but me focusing on someone else's bad mood and letting it annoy/frustrate me is just making the bad mood contagious. And getting stuck on it is actually just bad for my own emotional well-being, no matter what is up with them. So it's not so much that I look at people fondly, but I try to look at them as all human, worthy of compassion and not in my way unless there's some sort of specific thing that proves this otherwise. A few other little truisms that help me

- everyone's hardest struggle is their hardest struggle - maybe I'm awesome at getting through airport security and the person in front of me isn't. Being mad that other people aren't me is ridiculous if I stop to think about it for even a second. There are ways to be a great person that is nothing like me at all, and in fact there may be some ways I can never be a great person because I am me. Good luck to them being great in a different way, I can remain secure that I have mastered airport security lines, and then move on. Maybe they are good at piano, I suck at piano.
- curly/straight - I have straight hair, I always wanted curly hair. I have met enough people who wanted exactly the opposite that I realized that sometimes we just desire what we don't/can't have and a lot of this is relative. Being less a part of that bad mishegas is a great idea.
- assume everyone just came from the dentist
- believing that if I can't find something interesting or valuable about someone it is because I am not trying or not committing, so I make it a personal challenge.

And when all that fails and I'm still being a crabby pain in the ass, I just imagine that I can kill them with my mind but I don't want to right now.
posted by jessamyn at 6:03 PM on April 28, 2013 [38 favorites]

Best answer: I'm mostly a rose-tinted glasses type of person. Even when I do work myself to be angry at someone as soon as I see them in person the anger disappears.

It's not a religious thing for me. I think two things are at play: one, I just tend to immediately see all the ways me and another person are alike, whether through shared personality traits or interests. That makes it terribly easy to sympathize with them. For example, despite not being a frat-type person at all I can have a lot of fun at frat parties because I enjoy the opportunity to let my loud and obstreperous side out.

Two, I find people to be incredibly interesting and I love hearing about people's passions, even when I have no interest in them myself. I'm not religious, but I enjoy talking with religious people about their faith and can relate via been brought up in a religious household. I'm hopelessly crappy at art and music and don't even attempt them myself, but I can appreciate the talent and commitment it takes to do them and love hearing from artists about what inspires them.

If you engage people in the areas where you're alike, and if you listen to the kind of stuff they're really passionate about, it's very easy to see them as sympathetic human beings and see the best in them.

(the downside of this is I'm probably too accommodating to jerks unless they're 100% jerk 24/7)
posted by Anonymous at 6:08 PM on April 28, 2013

Best answer: I see some jerks as wounded ex-children. Shrink somebody down to their little kid self, remember your own little kid self, and see them through that lens, as somebody's newborn or frightened preschooler or even angsty teen. Everybody was once somebody's son or daughter, and rough handling in those years can cause lasting pain. Short version: blame the parents.
posted by kmennie at 6:20 PM on April 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I spent my youth button-holing total strangers and emotionally bleeding all over anyone who would put up with my shit for two nanoseconds. A lot of people were shockingly nice and supportive about it to an amazing degree. This allowed me to find solutions and get better.

I just kind of assume all assholes are "me"at age 17 and if I can help give them a bandaid, I will. If I can't, I try to let them down easy. I believe if people get the support they need, most people will behave decently. If they aren't, the odds are really high there is something in their way preventing nicer behavior.

So I basically project. I prefer to be nice but sometimes can't get it right. I generally assume other people are like me in some sense, even though I know brain wiring and stuff can be very different. Still, if their own needs are met, quite a lot of people will be kind, generous, etc just cuz we happen to be of the same species. It's actually pretty amazing.
posted by Michele in California at 6:24 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I tend to think of people as mostly kind but self-centered and complicated

I don't know that this is necessarily wrong ... but I know what you're getting at.

Always being angry and critical of others makes me feel worse - more sad, more alone, more grar - so I try to adjust my focus. I still need some work on this.

- I used to be very harsh in my judgment of others and needed to feel superior. Once I made some very snooty remarks about some other students in one of my classes to our professor. He quickly cut me down to size by pointing out some of MY shortcomings. I felt very defensive at the time, but never forgot it. I now try to ask myself how my judgment of others would make me feel if it were pointed in my direction, and if it would really be fair.

- Along those lines, "judge not, that ye be not judged" from the Bible. Which I don't really think means "never ever judge" but "if you were judged in the way that you judge others, what would that look like? would it really help anything"

- Sometimes your reaction to someone else tells you something important about yourself - which could mean a lot of different things. If someone is really getting under your skin you might want to ask yourself why.

- We all have some flaws and no one is perfect.

- You have no idea what anyone else has been through or what they are dealing with right now - loss, gastrointestinal distress, an angry boss ... who knows. It's hard to remember that but it can be helpful.

- Learning to better accept and appreciate yourself is part of learning to better accept and appreciate others.

- It might help to practice positive thinking - whether you directly tell people "I like it that you're doing X" or write a list of positive things that people around you did every day.
posted by bunderful at 6:42 PM on April 28, 2013

The less critical you are of yourself, the less critical you will be of others. See the best parts of yourself so you can see the best in others. Also, it helps very much not to have unrealistic expectations. I used to expect way too much from people.

At my job, for a long while, I could not believe my boss was the boss. She is what I would call "unprofessional" at times. She is loud in general. She discusses politics loudly in front of patients. She uses the word "rape" a lot. She speaks in ebonics when imitating an African American celebrity or employee. I can honestly tell you that she has no idea she is potentially being offensive. She is very hyper, outgoing, and type-A and this is her personality. For a while I focused on these negative attributes and couldn't let it go that she behaved in such an unprofessional way. Focusing on these attributes and judging her for them didn't do anything to build our relationship. The more I worked with her, the more I came to appreciate her positive attributes (hard-working, intelligent, flexible, hilarious, giving, kind). We're good friends at work and I look forward to the days I get to work with her. I think the less I cared about her offending people (that's her business, not mine. I'm not the one being offensive) the more I came to appreciate her for who she really is, and had and easier time focusing on her positive attributes.
posted by Fairchild at 6:42 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am also not that kind of person by nature. But I fell in love with someone who is like that, and I have friends like that too. Spending time with these people has helped my outlook alot.
posted by cabingirl at 6:43 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think that when you're unwilling to give someone the benefit of the doubt to people or see the best in them, that might be because you take their bad behaviour (or annoying traits, etc.) as a personal affront.
And it's easier not to get so affronted when you feel good about yourself. When I'm feeling insecure or otherwise bad about myself, I'm more likely to see the worst in people. So, working on making good choices for myself also helps me like others.
At the same time, knowing this means that when I'm really cranky about people, I try to think about what personal unmet need is motivating that bad feeling.
Mind you, this is all theory--I can't say I'm always successful at thinking this way!
Oh, and one last thing: if my blood sugar is low, or I haven't had enough sleep, I'm pretty reliably awful. So maybe when it's hard to see the bright side, have an apple?
posted by Edna Million at 6:54 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I was a snarky teen and young adult for a lot of reasons but mostly, I think, if I assumed the worst about people and/or just thought about people negatively, then I could remain all emotionally closed off and then people couldn't hurt me.

Anyway, what really works for me is the advice my teaching mentor gave me years ago when beginning to work with high school kids with behavioral challenges:

"Find ONE thing that you genuinely like about every kid that you work with, and whenever there's a meeting or discussion of the kid and their recent lawbreaking or general academic horrificness, be that person who says something nice about them."

And over the years I've worked with some truly difficult kids but I had one kid who really was just the most miserable, nastiest piece of work I'd ever met. All his teachers despised his actions and loathed having him in classes.

At one in a series of fruitless meeting with his (clearly drunk at 10 am) mother, this kid's mom brought his toddler brother to the school and almost tossed the baby into my student's arms.

He kissed his little brother and played peekaboo with him and got him some juice from the cafeteria while I watched him, completely stunned.

So not only was that a HUGE mental turning point for me, to really notice te good, but I made a point from then on of telling all his other teachers about what goodness I had seen with our kid.

And that's what works for me when I feel myself going over to the Dark Side: to find that one thing and to make sure I tell someone else.

For me, that action really reinforces of the habit to remain positive.

But a big one is to spend the day listening to most teenage girls talk about each other and realize that's what we sound like when we pick people apart and don't assume the best.

Nobody wants to sound like a mean teenage girl.
posted by kinetic at 7:23 PM on April 28, 2013 [15 favorites]

I don't think it's a matter of rose-colored glasses; in fact, I think it's actually about seeing people more clearly. Our flaws, our hurts, our stumbles, our vulnerabilities are all inextricably part of our shared humanity. Most people, most of the time, are doing the best they can -- no matter how imperfectly, and are therefore worth being viewed gently and respectfully. And as others have mentioned, this starts with embracing yourself -- flaws and all -- with gentleness and respect.

That's why I don't think your characterization of people "as mostly kind but self-centered and complicated" is actually all that far off the mark; I just don't think of those qualities as automatically negative. People are mostly kind, even if most people do frequently dwell on themselves in the sense that it's a fairly natural default position to be preoccupied with your own immediate situation, needs, etc., precisely because everyone's life is complicated and unique in its own way (aka "everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle").

Some of the books that have helped me over the years have been The Lost Art of Compassion (on the intersection of Buddhism and psychology), Getting Unstuck (a Buddhist approach to breaking destructive habits), and Marcus Aurelius's Meditations (classic Stoic text, highly useful for training yourself to suspend judgment of things and people as automatically "good" or "bad").
posted by scody at 7:31 PM on April 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

The Buddhist practice of Tonglen meditation might help you.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:40 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have been transformed by both the Golden Rule and remembering that what I find galling in others is always related to some part of myself I have not yet become friends with. I can harbour thoughts for a long time that someone SHOULD do this or SHOULDN'T do that, but in the end that all comes down to seeing places where I have not yet become comfortable with my own self.

Real and personal and daily example: for years I believed that my partner and kids' seeming inability to clean up after themselves meant that they were disrespectful of me and my time. After all, why should I clean their shit up? How self-centred can you be, leaving you stuff around for me to clean up? fuck you! Imagine thinking that the three people who love you more than anyone actually think that about you? And you about them?

When I cleaned up after them it was with ANGER, let me tell you. Smashing doors and crashing pots and pans and throwing stuff into their rooms. Real honest to goodness assholic behaviour on my part

Of course in thinking this I am blind to two things: first, they have lives too, and sometimes those lives dont allow them the time to finish what they are doing sooner than my patience will allow them. So who is being self-centered now? Here I am expecting them to do things according to my standards and on my time line. Over all those years, did I even ask them what else is going on for them that THEY need help with? Nope. Not once. Not a single thought along the lines of "Hmmm...Ms Salishsea seems to be doing a million things at once. I wonder how I can help?"

Secondly after reflecting on this state of affairs and really watching myself when I was in these reactive thoughts, I realized that there are all kinds of ways in which I expect people to clean up after ME, and I never pay those people any mind. Obviously at home, I'm not perfect, and there are things I leave lying around that someone else has to put away. But also, I am alive in a world where my very life, as a North American, creates a lot of mess for people, not only now but in the future too. I use to accuse my parents' generation of leaving a big mess for my generation to clean up, but now I see that I have probably made that mess worse. Human beings - at least this one anyway - are strangely capable of living 100% ironic lives without ever knowing it.

This is not to feel guilty or to excuse inexcusable behaviours. Rather what I am telling you is I discovered I deep mutuality between myself and others in this process. In other words, it is through this kind of reflection, especially on looking at what bugs us about other people, that we can find how WE also own these behaviours. And that invites me to treat everyone with as much grace and latitude and forgiveness as I would want for myself.

In the end, knowing that me and people have similar foibles, it's not much of a stretch to see that me and people may also have gifts and strengths. In fact I know I have gifts, and it's a safe assumption that you do too. After I forgive you "your" imperfections (as I would hope you can forgive mine) my very first question to you is "what do you really love? What are you good at? What have you got that makes the world a better place?" Discovering this practice has been probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. I still suffer fools, but I need to, because every fool I meet makes me aware of another place I can become a better and more graceful human being.

And I ain't done yet. Perpetually, just beginning because it's not easy to see your own projections upon others. But it's a fierce but kind way to travel in the world.
posted by salishsea at 7:40 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Everyone is the hero of their own story, and everyone thinks they are being the most reasonable person in the room at any given moment. Even when they're being a total asshole, they have reasons. Just imagine why they think that.

Also, I'll occasionally remind myself that "being an asshole" and "not doing what I want them to do" are not synonymous.
posted by Etrigan at 7:42 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

We are all just people- you are not always fantastic or at your best, neither is the person in front of you fumbling for their bus change (why didn't they have it ready?!) or the person hemming and hawing over their coffee order (you had 15 min in line to decide!). Sometimes that person is you, and you want people to cut you a little slack. It's all perspective...Hell is other people and all that, but to them, you are the other person. Does that make sense? Also, go to a few meditation classes. The practice may not stick with you but some of the Buddhist-based teachings may.
posted by bquarters at 7:45 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use The Spoon Theory as my guide.

Like kinetic here, I work in a school and often see students at their worst (and best) and I never want to be a terrible part of their day. Many have had rough mornings and nothing to look forward to. I wish I didn't know about their home lives sometimes. And though I don't know what their morning was like, and I don't know what the rest of the day will bring - I can be the thing that swings it one way or another. What I try to do is to not take away any "spoons" by meeting anger with anger or meeting their frustration with mine. In fact, their time with me is when they're supposed to revive themselves a bit, though I can't give them everything they want. So, I try to remember that in the moment, they are who they are in front of me and try to deal in their currency because of that: What will encourage the behaviour everyone needs? What will shut down unproductive avenues? I try to remember that a big part of who is in front of me is the day they're having. I try to remember that children are care-free, not careless. As for the adults in my life - it's not much different. Who knows what it takes for the other person to get through a day? I remember that we all often have too much on our plates, and that we're often care-full, not careless.

Another way I think of it is something I heard when watching my daughter's yoga class. The children were told something to the effect that stealing is stealing, and stealing someone's energy or someone's joy is as wrong as stealing a physical object. It is so easy be negative and to harsh someone's mellow, or to ding someone. It is harder to think good thoughts and be positive about people - but it's like giving energy (and spoons) to others and to yourself when you do so.
posted by peagood at 8:33 PM on April 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

It helps me to remember the fundamental attribution error: we tend to attribute our own behavior to the specifics of a situation, but we tend to attribute other people's behavior to their personality or disposition. So, if I cut someone off in traffic, it's because I was in a hurry, had an important meeting, etc. But if someone cuts me off, it's because he's a jerk.

We all do this. It's the subject of a ton of research in social psychology. But if you can be aware of it, and catch yourself doing it, I think it's easier to make the conscious decision to cut other people some slack. I try to remind myself, What that person did was annoying/ unkind/ selfish/ whatever, but to be honest, I've done that before on occasion.
posted by pompelmo at 9:02 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

1. Allow everyone to have a bad day. (Or several bad days.)
2. Hone in on something, anything you like about someone seemingly awful when your urge is not to like them.
3. Never let even one judgmental word cross your lips. When you stop saying it, you stop thinking it.
4. Understand that a lot of bad behavior usually boils down to ignorance or fear.
5. Be as kind and patient with people as you would to a small, hopeful child. We're all small, hopeful children deep down.
6. This sounds silly, but I try to be more dog-like. No guile, no game, just love and sunshine and forgiveness and loyalty. Spend more time in parks. Appreciate breezes and cold water. I started doing this eight months ago and I feel... lighter. Life is more fun.
7. Remember our time here is brief. Remember that a small thing you do at the right unknown moment can turn someone's life around in a positive way. Kindness is powerful.

I am still learning, but the more I do all this, the happier I am.
posted by mochapickle at 9:03 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Always assume the worst about people. Then you're never disappointed. Most people call it cynical. I call it understanding that you will, in an average day, encounter at least one person who is at their worst, and planning on it.

Also, try to be kind to someone every day. I've had totally random people say totally random positive things to me over the years, and I remember them all. If you have a good word to say, say it. You will make some tiny little piece of the world a little better for even one second. I try to do this every day.

I have not had an easy time, but I think a good bunch of people think me kind, and I attribute it merely to saying and doing good things when I have the opportunity. It costs me nothing. Maybe a ding on the ole reputation on occasion, but who can't weather that? I'm not even going to say it pays dividends in the long run, because it often doesn't. Sometimes it bites me in the ass in really capital ways. Often I'm kind to someone I despise. And I often despise them for reasons that mean a lot to me. But when I walk away wondering why something bit me in the ass, I know I was at least kind. And I have grown to be a cynical guy. But if someone does something right? Or capital-t True? Or something that you know must've been a tough thing to do? Tell them and call them out on it and tell them it was a good or right or true thing to do.

People tell each other every day the way that they're fucking up. Very few people take even the slightest second to do something randomly kind.

So what happens is that people treat you differently. This is your life. When people see that you're living it and really, really trying not to fuck up everyone on your way and really trying to make things better for people in seemingly trivial ways, you will find that people start doing it for you too. If you're not sunny and really obviously having a rough spot? Their memories of your kindness change the way they view you. This is not a reason to do it, at all. But it is a result you will notice.

The rose colored glasses then come naturally. Just be kind. I'm not religious, but it seems to be what all the religions say. Try to be better than everyone you meet. Expect nothing in return. Nothing is worse than some sanctimonious Christian asshat whose being kind in hopes of getting into heaven. Just be kind.
posted by nevercalm at 9:07 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I actually think a big key to it is coming from a place of genuine self confidence - practicing self care and self forgiveness. Sometimes when I am practicing mindfulness I catch myself saying something to myself that is unduly harsh - I find that when I catch that, and realize it, and make a conscious effort to be more gentle to myself, it just comes naturally to try to engage others and to understand where other people are coming from and want to make them feel comfortable and happy.

When I feel like I am really connected that state of mind I start perceiving people differently. Like a girl who I'd find obnoxious and self-involved, I begin to feel sad for her and then think of times when I've done the same as what she's doing and wish happiness for her.
posted by mermily at 9:48 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have had positive results from cultivating a few daily habits.

-- making eye contact and smiling, genuinely, when I meet a new person, whether that's at work or the person helping me at the checkout stand. It helps me to get in the mindset of being honored to meet that person and recognizing them as a fellow human rather than just part of the scenery of my day.

-- thanking people for everything I see them do that is helpful, even if it is something they were "supposed" to do anyway: housemates for washing up the kitchen, that sort of thing. This is as much for me as for them, because noticing and offering these frequent thanks helps me be mindful of what people around me are doing in a positive way.

-- likewise, offering compliments when they occur to me.

-- really trying to listen to the implications of what people say to me. Often, somewhere in their everyday conversation they will reveal problems they're having or a different perspective from mine or a negative circumstance or feeling or source of stress or whatever, and this makes more sense of actions that I was previously inclined to be critical about.

I'm not by any means perfect on this score, but these are small actions that I've found helpful, as well as trying to cultivate an overall more thoughtful approach.
posted by shattersock at 12:22 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I realized: No matter who we are or how we present ourselves, we all want peace, happiness, yet all suffer in some way whether obvious or hidden, so that we have more in common than not. It became easy to see the beauty in people and appreciate their good intentions, whether these intentions worked out. I began treating people differently, always speaking to the best within them, and in return they began showing me their best selves, which made me only want to treat them better.

I think simply making a conscious decision to see the best in people is a great start.
posted by enlivener at 8:17 AM on April 29, 2013

I try really really hard to imagine how they're seeing the world and what needs they are trying to fulfill. Their intention isn't to hurt me, it's to fix a need, but they do it in hurtful ways. It's not rose-colored per se, but it's just how people are. Most "bad people" are really just bad communicators.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:44 AM on April 29, 2013

You find what you look for.

If you want to see the good in people, make a deliberate point of seeking it out, thinking about it and focusing on it. List 20 good qualities about everyone you know. Make your mental descriptions of people involve their admirable qualities (Jan the talented baseball player who must be really dedicated to be so skillful vs. Jan who is into sports). When you describe people, do the same. That's a start anyways.
posted by windykites at 11:28 AM on April 29, 2013

I do not have rose colored glass, but my mom does. The difference between our outlooks mostly comes down is as follows:

-When I see someone being rude or inconsiderate, I assume they are doing it on purpose. I assume they only care about themselves and don't care about those around them. For instance, I assume smokers know that the smell instantly makes other people sick (headaches/asthma attacks/etc). I feel extremely angry when I'm around smokers because I assume they just don't care that they are making me feel sick.

-My mom assumes rude/inconsiderate people don't realize what they are doing. She assumes they are friendly people just going about their lives. For instance, she doesn't think smokers are purposefully trying to make others sick. She thinks they are just addicted and trying to get on with their lives.

I wish I was more like my mom and didn't take other people's actions so personally.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:44 PM on April 29, 2013

I'm thirding (?) the Fundamental Attribution Error but also want to throw my oar in with the 'it's about you, not them'. When I am upset (this could be hormonal, or anxiety, or shame) I will often find myself ranting viciously in my head at my partner, or family, or whoever. Mindfulness allows me to notice what is happening AND to forgive myself for it. Not just "goddamn it, more fucking washing up fuck it why can't he do it" but "man, I am tired and angry about that, I should ask if he can take over doing X tonight because I'm struggling a bit today". Being kind to myself first is just like the oxygen mask - from there I can be kind to others.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:36 PM on April 29, 2013

Seconding the golden rule. Compassion really doesn't consist of anything more complicated.

Most people mean well most of the time, like you do. Their weaknesses do not deserve scorn any more than yours do.
posted by ead at 7:33 PM on April 29, 2013

"Never assume malicious intent where it could just as well be explained by incompetence".

On search, this seems to be called Hanlon's razor and a common meme around here. I definitely got this from Metafilter and I see it as a useful part of my mental furniture.
posted by yoHighness at 2:28 AM on May 1, 2013

Two ways work for me.

Hang out with people who are already wearing rose colored glasses, and suspend personal disbelief until my brain goes with it...

...or hang out in bars, drink moderately and continually, and only hang out with happy drunks.
posted by talldean at 8:53 AM on May 2, 2013

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