By Leo Babauta
One thing I’ve been noticing in myself over the last few months, and I see other people doing it all the time, is thinking that my way is the right way to do things.
I bet you do it too.
We all do it — if we’re not worried that we’re doing things the wrong way, we seem to be sure that our way is the right way. Weirdly, I think we do both of these all the time.
Some ways I’ve thought my way was the best way recently:
- I judge people who don’t eat as healthy as me. Especially those who eat fast food.
- I look at people who carry lots of luggage when traveling, and think they don’t travel as well as I do with just one small backpack.
- I judge people who don’t exercise, and think that my way of exercising is the right way to do it.
- I have felt superior to people who smoke (even though I used to do it).
- I sneer at people who watch popular movies, listen to pop songs, watch too much TV (even though I’ve done all of these).
- I judge “bros,” hipsters, Internet trolls, gamers, startup culture, racists, misogynists, gluttons, people who have ads on their sites, people who drive big trucks, people who are on Facebook or Instagram too much, hoarders, people who aren’t neat or organized, people who don’t have their finances together, people who eat too much meat and cheese …
In other words, I judge everyone, in some way or another, for being different from me. And so, it seems, does everyone else. When someone doesn’t do things your way, you judge them. Your way is right. Or my way is.
This is, of course, just our natural reaction to other people who are different than us. When we stop to think about it, our way can’t possibly be the only right way. Other people just have different preferences, and the world would be boring if everyone were the same, if no one did things differently.
We want diversity. We want different ideas. We want a clash of cultures and ideas. We want to be exposed to a constant stream of differentness.
And so I urge you to pay attention to when you are thinking your way is better than someone else’s. Notice this, question it, and see if you can try to be curious about the other person’s way. How can their way be just as good as yours?
How can we drop judgment and embrace curiosity?
I’m trying this, and struggling with it, but the struggle is worth it.