“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even when they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.”
- Miller Williams
He was rude. He cut you off in traffic. She’s aloof, cold, curt. He’s on the corner asking for a hand out. She lies. He’s money hungry. She’s grossly overweight. No one returned your phone call. They left without saying goodbye.
You might never know the why behind someone’s less-than-ideal, not-the-way-you-wish-it-was behavior.
Here’s a curative for the sharp judgement that often accompanies our disappointment in others — just a single, surprising expansive phrase: You just never know. Use it before you jump to conclusions that someone’s a jerk, or that they need an attitude adjustment, or that they could be doing better than they are.
The Mantra of Practical Compassion:
“You just never know.”
I’ve been to enough ridiculous self help workshops, heard enough stories in airport bars, and had enough one-on-one conversations about so-called “success” to know that there’s a story behind every demeanor. I’ve kept my own pain hidden in plain sight and thought, “If they only knew”. But you just never know…
: someone has just been diagnosed and is thinking about all they have to lose.
: their lover just texted them to say, “it’s over”.
: he wakes up every day thinking he’s about to fail, fearing that everyone else in the world knows something that he doesn’t.
: she’s in the middle of a divorce and is about to go on stage.
: before he was your driver, or your waiter, he was a doctor in his homeland.
: their spirit was fractured as a child by unspeakable things.
: she is frightened — all the time.
: he resists life itself — all the time.
: they are frail from lack of love.
: they’re faking loving the heart-hollowed life they fought so hard to make.
: chemicals are coursing through them in destabilizing ways.
: she hasn’t slept through the night in months and months.
: they’ve experienced a loss that will leave a gaping wound for the rest of this incarnation.
: today is especially hard and they’re doing their best, while they wish for just a little more than what they’ve got.
Suspend judgement as a practice of your faith in something true, common, and bigger than today.
Danielle LaPorte is the author of The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide for Creating Success on Your Own Terms (Random House/Crown). An inspirational speaker, former think tank exec and business strategist, she is the co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. Her latest online program launched December 2012, called DESIRE: The Map to What You Truly Want.
Over a million visitors have gone to DanielleLaPorte.com for her straight-up advice -- a site that's been deemed “the best place on-line for kick-ass spirituality”, and was named one of the "Top 100 Websites for Women" by Forbes.
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