By Leo Babauta
If only we could get others to be more considerate, less annoying, more diligent, see our point of view …
How often have you wanted to change other people so they’d be better? Better spouses, kids, roommates, coworkers, employees? We want our kids to study harder and clean up after themselves, our spouses to be more considerate, our coworkers to be on time, our roommates to be neater, our relatives to be healthier, and so we try to change them.
How often has that worked?
People don’t want to be changed. And we can’t force them to change. This causes no end of frustration, for us and the person who we’re trying to change.
What we can change, instead:
- Our responses to their actions. If someone is being frustrating, we can instead find something to be grateful for about them. We can see their virtues instead of their faults. We can change our expectations of them, and instead accept them for the beautiful person they are.
- Our intention for them. Instead of wanting them to change, we can offer guidance in the spirit of helping, but not expect them to accept that guidance. We can show them a way that might be helpful, but not demand they follow that way.
- Our example for them. If someone gets angry all the time (and you don’t like that), instead of getting angry back, be the example. How should they deal with frustrations if not through anger? Show them. Be calm. Be loving and gentle and compassionate.
- Ourselves. Try changing yourself, and see how easy that is. It’s actually pretty hard. Try changing your diet, or your responses to people. It’s doable, but far from easy. If it’s not easy for you to change, why should we expect everyone else to change, and get frustrated when they don’t? Why should everyone else but you change? Why not change to adapt to the reality of the world around you, instead of expecting the world to bend to your desires?
If we focus on these four things, instead of trying to change people, we will be much happier. And our relationship with others will be much better. Isn’t that worth the effort?