Differn’t Strokes

I always strive to be non-judgmental. I think it is a result of my mother’s teachings and my yoga practices. My mom always told me, “don’t judge someone because it will end up happening to you.” In yoga, many of the classes are set around acceptance–accepting who you are, what you have been given, and being grateful for it. This is a very helpful practice, especially when I am teaching. It is a very difficult concept and I definitely do not do it 100% of the time (In fact, I would say it is more like 65% of the time) but it helps me to be understanding and accommodating for other people’s situations. For example, if I have a student one the first day tell me to “Get the hell out of their school”, instead of taking it personally and offensively, I try to look at the student and consider what might have caused them to say this. Do they have an insecurity? In their family dynamics, does this student assert a lot of control and not have a lot of boundaries? Did I maybe hear the comment incorrectly? I try to re-set my mind in this way, even when I am driving. If someone cuts me off, instead of automatically blaming the driver, I try to ask myself, Is this person on their way to the hospital or a really important meeting? Did this person just not see me? Did their turn signal just go out and they didn’t notice? It is difficult, because we cannot read other people’s minds, so we assert our own interpretations onto behaviors. I always try to believe that people are genuinely good and not malicious, so I try to find reasons and explanations that fit those categories. It is difficult work to change your cognitive approach, but it does make for a less stressful day. 

It has been a difficult journey, but I have come to realize that not everyone is going to have the same values, goals, and aspirations as myself. I know it sounds cliche, but it has taken me time to accept. For example, non-judgmentalism is one of the most important concepts I strive for. However, I have learned that not everyone is going to strive for that same frame of thinking, and I have to accept it. I recently found myself surrounded with some people who were constantly judging other people’s children and parenting styles. They would make comments, such as, “Why would you ever let your kid wear their hair long like that? I would never let my son do that”, and “That parent has weird mannerisms, don’t you think?” I found myself being judged for not tackling tasks in life with the same approach that these people would. It became a huge catastrophe, and I was left feeling very distraught, because while I tried to explain my intentions behind my actions, it did not really matter. In my mind, I look at why people do the things they do, but I slowly had to realize that not everyone looks at life through the same lens, and, not everyone cares as much as I do about non-judgmentalism. 

A similar thing happened with a member in my family. I strive to be the best person that I can be. I often take on too many tasks, I want to win everything, and I do everything to 120% of my best ability. A member of my family recently took a demotion in his job, because he would rather do the tasks and go home than devote his entire life to running the company. In my mind, I do not understand why someone would be content just being average–just putting in enough work just to get by. I had to consider that perhaps this person just has different values than I. I think as Americans, we tend to value those who are career and money motivated, who dedicated their lives to climbing the workforce ladder no matter what sacrifices they need to make, and who show it off with fancy, material items. While I want to strive for excellence and will do whatever it takes to get there, this person values being home, doing yard work, and living a stress free lifestyle.

I have this conversation with a good friend of mine, who is currently looking for a job in the oil and gas industry. He has dollar signs in his eyes. Everything is about how much money he is going to make now, and how much money he can potentially make in the future. I, being a teacher on the other hand, always try to remind him of the downside and other factors he must consider–my time and happiness is the most important part in selecting a job, so I am going to choose a lower paying job over one that has a significantly less commute time. My friend, on the other hand, is going to choose the job that makes the most money, no matter what. And while both philosophies are different, it does not necessarily mean that one is bad and the other is good. This perhaps might date back to the conquistadors and the founding of America, because the explorers were so forceful in pushing their lifestyles down everyone else’s throats. 

I think this is a mindset we need to accept in our culture–because everyone comes from different backgrounds, everyone has different values, beliefs, aspirations, and everyone will come at a task in a different way. 

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