At a low point in my life, I found myself looking at my friend Michael with indescribable annoyance. He constantly brags about himself, his fortunes and his popularity. He is like a child who knew no reservations and thinks people are always interested in his thoughts and stories.
However, he also has many great qualities that made me feel very much less than him. He is deeply caring and intensely curious. He is full of creative energy and never stopped exploring for new places and ideas.
I was experiencing some sort of cognitive dissonance. I wanted to like my friend but somehow found it difficult to be interested in him due to the things I found insufferable about him. I felt like a fake in our interactions and constantly wondered if he would notice. I hesitated about telling him the truth to help him work on it.
And then, instead of trying to change him. I tried to change myself .
It may sound silly but I tried to think of myself as a bigger and better person, someone who was selfless and loved all, like Buddha.
I think I must have brainwashed myself to be kinder, because it then became much easier to smile at his shortcomings and appreciate his strengths.
I had shifted my focus. I found the right pair of glasses, which blurred out the bad and zoomed in on the good. Before, I was dwelling on Michael’s weaknesses, which not only added no value to myself but it actually turned me into a negative person. It also took away my attention from learning the good of him.
By reflecting on my own flaws through him, a calmness and motivation came over me. I wanted to learn from Michael, and so naturally, I became more interested in him.
Actually, everyone is a learning opportunity, especially the ones that you dislike. And I had almost denied myself of this precious opportunity because of an erroneous sense of superiority.
Now that I am a better person, I am in a better place to help Michael.
Now that I genuinely care for him because of my newly gained respect for him, I can offer a more selfless kindness that was unavailable before.
When you reoriented yourself into a position of true kindness, you become a mirror. Your body language, your facial expressions and your subtle choice of words will now reflect that true kindness. You will not need to fake it and the other person will feel it. He or she will also respond similarly.
I guess I faked it till I made it. But I faked it by reconditioning my thoughts. I pretended I was Buddha and took on this belief:
Everyone in this world is beautiful in a significant way, but it is your job to put on the right glasses to see it beautifully.