Can you see the good in others?

J P Vaswani builds a compelling case for focussing on people’s merits and strengths instead of their weaknesses and defects

The great Prophet of the Baha’i faith, Baha’ ullah, said to his disciples again and again, “If you find that there are nine vices and only one virtue in your neighbour, forget the nine vices, and focus only on the one virtue.” This is the secret of an understanding heart: see only the good in others. When we focus on others’ faults, we only draw those negative forces unto ourselves. Fault-finding, constant criticism and magnifying the mistakes of others are poor, ineffective ways of changing the world. A sunny temperament and a healthy sense of humour can do wonders for you. Learn to laugh with others; try a smile or a kind word—you will find that wrongs are easy to set right, and ‘wrong doers’ are set back on the right track.

Judge not the others

Tina was a ‘special’ child—severely challenged physically and intellectually. Her parents brought her to experts who observed her carefully, accessed her capabilities and suggested a child-centred approach, which her parents could adopt to teach her at home. The experts did not impose any set programmes on Tina; rather they learned her preferences and inclinations first, and allowed the child to guide them in helping her. During successive sessions, trained volunteers and special teachers observed the child, and shared their observations with each other and the parents.

At the end of the third day’s session, Neela, one of the volunteers said enthusiastically, “Yesterday, Tina was not ready to move out of her place; but this morning, when I held out a toy to her, she actually took a few steps in my direction.”

Shanti, another volunteer added, “This afternoon, when I showed her a teddy bear, she laughed happily and came to me to touch the teddy.”

Tina’s mother, who was listening open-mouthed, interjected at this point, “But ... but she cannot walk!”

“Oh?” said the volunteers politely, “We really didn’t know that!”

I have narrated this real-life story that I read recently to tell you how the teachers and trainers of ‘special’ children do not pre-judge the capabilities of their young wards. This is an attitude we will all do well to adopt.

We have ingrained notions of what is right and wrong, what is proper and improper, what is acceptable and unacceptable. When we impose our narrow and harsh judgements on others, we condemn ourselves to a critical attitude and lose out on a lot of good cheer and joy that comes from being open-minded.

No one is perfect

None of us is perfect. No man or woman can ever be perfect. Even Jesus said to us, “Call me not perfect. Alone the Father in heaven is perfect!”

Marriage, friendship, any relationship or business partnership involves two imperfect human beings trying to live together, work together or establish a link. Unless we learn to accept people as they are, we will lose all possibility of finding happiness in our relationships.

A stranger arrived at the gates of a city, which he was visiting for the first time. An old woman sitting on the roadside greeted him, “Welcome to our city.”

“What kind of people live here?” the stranger asked.

“What kind of people live in your home town?” the old woman asked him with a smile.

“Oh, they were terrible,” swore the stranger. “They were mean, nasty, malicious and selfish. They were impossible to live with.”

“You will find people here are pretty much the same,” the old woman said to him.

A little later, another stranger arrived at the city gates, and was welcomed by the old woman.

“What kind of people live in this city?”

“How did you find them in your home town?” the woman asked him.

“Oh, they were a wonderful lot—hard working, friendly, and easy to get along with.”

“You will find the people here likewise,” the old woman assured him.

See the good in others

Approach people with love and understanding—and you will find the same reflected in their approach to you. Focus on people’s merits and strengths; not on their weaknesses and defects—this is the secret of a harmonious and peaceful life. See the good in others! Utter kind words and loving thoughts about them. You will find that this has a healing effect on them, and you. Harsh words and criticism cause people to shrink and wither. The happy, positive individual does not criticise, he does not find fault with others. If we too begin to see the good in others, we will keep on growing better and better and our minds will always be at peace, and the world around us will smile.

This was first published in the July 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing

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