“I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong. … Why not try the other way, to look into the patient and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” ~ Thich Nhat Hahn
It is easy to be a critic. We know very well what we like and we are aware when something or someone doesn’t live up to our preferences. It is simple to point to that which does not satisfy, and describe how it fails to meet our ideals or standards.
Let’s think about how being a critic relates to those around us. We have all been around someone who constantly complains. Spending much time with such a dissatisfied person has the potential to really bring us down. It can be draining to be around someone that is negative. We can see that if our goal is to be compassionate, then we don’t want to be that person that is draining energy by being negative. Thus, we need to learn to reject the easy path of being a critic, and we need to work to see what is positive.
A good method for dealing with that which went wrong is to focus on something that is positive from the experience. Say some people volunteered and helped you, but didn’t complete the task in the manner you had expected. It got done, but it just isn’t the quality you had in mind. You can react in different ways. You could be upset with them for not doing the job as you had envisioned or you could be grateful for the assistance, and appreciate the time it saved you. Imagine how they are going to feel if you express your displeasure with their work. They took time to help you and now you are complaining about what they did! This kind of response really turns people off, and may cause them to be reluctant to assist in the future because their effort was met with disdain instead of appreciation. Now imagine how they are going to feel if you express your gratitude for their time and assistance in a genuine manner. They had a reason for assisting you in the first place and that is the positive that you would want to see bloom. By expressing your gratitude for the help you receive, you encourage that spirit of assisting others. As the spirit of assistance blooms, so too will quality of help you receive. Since they felt their assistance made a difference and was appreciated, they will be more likely to continue to offer help. The more they help, the more experience they will gain, and the quality of their work will grow with experience. You can see how focusing on the positive versus focusing on the negative leads to a favorable result, how it can help others to blossom. We must be mindful to see the positive, in order that we may touch on those positive things and watch them bloom.