I was taught this exercise many years ago by a wise old friend named Charlie. I was bemoaning someone being in my way and Charlie put his hand on my arm. “You know, resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die,” he said. When we’re unconsciously in the habit of judging and blaming others, it can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.
The following post is an extract from my book, How to be Heard.
I was taught this exercise many years ago by a wise old friend named Charlie. I was bemoaning someone being in my way and Charlie put his hand on my arm. “You know, resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die,” he said. “If you go through life silently blaming, judging and condemning other people, your insides will be a mess. Why don’t you try this instead: think ‘Bless you’ towards everyone you meet.”
I tried it, and the results were remarkable. Consciously wishing people well in my head changed my posture, my demeanour and my experience of life. Instead of skulking around full of negative emotion, I felt taller, lighter and happier: it was like walking on air. Instead of avoiding eye contact because I’d been thinking something bad about them and feared they would see it, I was happy to meet people’s gaze – and mutual smiles sometimes even broke out!
I commend the exercise to you. You can choose whatever phrase works for you and your convictions: ‘Bless you’ is very simple; ‘I wish you well’ is equally clear and genuine. The important things are to do this in your head, not out loud; to do it to everyone you meet; and to mean it from your heart – this is not to be confused with a polite but rather empty social nicety such as ‘Have a nice day’.
With practice this can become a habit and I believe you will find it one of the best you’ve ever developed. In my experience, loving and judging are mutually exclusive – it’s very hard to do both at the same time! Practicing this exercise can exorcise the habit of being judgmental, which can lift a great weight.
For more thoughts on how speaking and listening can affect your happiness, check out my blog post 3 outcomes of conscious communication.
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