A thought…

For as long as I can remember I have been a very curious person, with a lot of questions: Why is this or that happening? Why am I here? What’s my purpose on this planet? What are the underlying reasons that make us behave in certain ways? What can I learn from everything I experience? How do things work? How can I best solve the situations I confront? and so on…

Being blessed with an enthusiastic mind concerning complex problems I searched for answers in different fields and thought systems (from more practical to rather metaphysical ones). What I learned in the process is that the same truth can be explained from different perspectives and it is only a matter of choice about how to act on it. However, the challenge lies not only in the multitude of perspectives (for example, trying to look at unemployment from the lenses of employers, unemployed people, impact on national GDP, etc.), but also in the moral good/bad polarity. What is “good” from one point of view, might be “bad” from another one.

What I have found to be the main issue we are struggling with as humanity is the underlying belief that bad outcomes are intentional. “He/she definitely wanted to hurt me”, “My employer only thinks about profit”, “Governments don’t really care about their people” and many other similar phrases that we tell ourselves or hear around us. And I believe it all comes from a combination of fear (fear of losing control, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, etc.) and not having immediate access to other people’s motivations (what we see is their behavior). Fear leads to mistrust and once you put on the mistrust glasses, it’s really hard to see (or be willing to search for) the good intention behind a bad outcome. But if “the path to hell is paved with good intentions” (as Dante wrote in the “Divine Comedy”) you might ask: why does it matter if behind a bad outcome is a bad or good intention? A bad outcome is a bad outcome. Period.

I think it makes a tremendous difference on how to respond to it. If you were indeed meant harm or you just believe so (with no objective proof), the entire situation might turn into a war zone. But if you take 10 min to breathe and try to understand the intention (even by asking) of the other party, you might descover it was a matter of insufficient knowledge or a bad choice in the implementation that led to a bad outcome. In this case, with a little bit of openness and availability (from all parties concerned) to focus on the solutions and not the problem, the situation might turn into a win-win.

I am not trying to say that there aren’t also people with bad intentions in this world. I am simply saying that most of the time, pausing before reacting and asking ourselves what glasses was the other person wearing in that situation (what were his/her motivations), it might help us avoid unnecessary conflicts and even turn bad outcomes into good ones on the long run. I am also aware of how challenging it is for our brain to fight against the immediate flight/ fight/ freeze response, but just imagine how our world would look like if we were able and willing to step into the shoes of others from time to time.

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