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Rick Hanson, Ph.D.: See The Good In Others

I really like this article. The idea that resonates for me is “see the positive intention”. Try that. See if it makes a difference in your stress level, and see how it can transform a relationship at work or at home.

Could that work for you?

Rick Hanson, Ph.D.: See The Good In Others:
Many interactions these days have a kind of bumper-car quality to them. At work, at home, on the telephone, via email: We sort of bounce off of each other while we exchange information, smile or frown, and move on. How often do we actually take the extra few seconds to get a sense of what’s inside other people — especially their good qualities?

In fact, because of what scientists call the brain’s “negativity bias” (you could see my talk at Google for more on this), we’re most likely to notice the bad qualities in others rather than the good ones: the things that worry or annoy us, or make us critical.

Unfortunately, if you feel surrounded by lots of bad or at best neutral qualities in others, and only a sprinkling of dimly-sensed good ones, then you naturally feel less supported, less safe, and less inclined to be generous or pursue your dreams. Plus, in a circular way, when another person gets the feeling that you don’t really see much that’s good in him or her, that person is less likely to take the time to see much that’s good in you.

Seeing the good in others is thus a simple but very powerful way to feel happier and more confident, and become more loving and more productive in the world.

How?

  • Slow down — Step out of the bumper car and spend a few moments being curious about the good qualities in the other person. You are not looking through rose-colored glasses; instead, you are opening your eyes, taking off the smog-colored glasses of the negativity bias, and seeing what the facts really are.
  • See positive intentions — Recently I was at the dentist’s, and her assistant told me a long story about her electric company. My mouth was full of cotton wads, and I didn’t feel interested. But then I started noticing her underlying aims: to put me at ease, fill the time until she could pull the cotton out, and connect with each other as people. Maybe she could have pursued those aims in better ways. But the aims themselves were positive — which is true of all fundamental wants even if the methods used to fulfill them have problems. For example, a toddler throwing mashed potatoes wants fun, a teenager dripping attitude wants higher status, and a mate who avoids housework wants leisure. Try to see the good intentions in the people around you. In particular, sense the longing to be happy in the heart of every person.


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For more by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

By Terry Moore

Terry Moore, MSW, LICSW is an Independently Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Omaha, NE. He provides psychotherapy and pain management to adults, often utilizing Hypnosis. He is an Approved Training Consultant - through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis [ASCH], the same body that issues his Certification in Hypnosis.