Change the way you look at people and Life. Fundamentally, it is NOT necessary that all people should understand you.
Don’t expect people to understand you, appreciate you or accept you. Chances are they won’t. And know that it is perfectly fine for them to be that way. A large part of our emotional stress comes when we crave for understanding, appreciation and acceptance. When we offer an opinion or perspective, at home, at work, wherever, we believe it to be a given that our point of view must be understood. In fact, we demand it. We also expect it and feel good when people appreciate our efforts__from something as immaterial as plain praise to a sense of gratitude that people display for actions we may have taken in their interest. And, of course, everyone wants to be recognized and treated with respect and dignity__a social acceptance of sorts__by everyone else. When these expectations are not met, we feel let down. We grieve. And we carry the heavy burden of a certain longing, a sorrow, of a misplaced craving.
There’s a way to set down this burden. Approach people with the awareness that just as you are entitled to your opinion, others are too. Second, have NO expectations from people. You do your part in a relationship well and live with that satisfaction. Don’t expect appreciation or acceptance. Simple. This attitude helps in keeping everyday living uncomplicated and peaceful. Because peace in daily Life is the biggest casualty in the wake of such expectation.
There’s a story from the Life of Adi Sankara (788 CE ~ 820 CE) that I remember. Adi Sankara was always clad in a loin cloth or a dhoti at best. One day a few urchins on the street that he was passing through, who did not know who he was, pelted stones at him and chided him for being “poor” and “robe-less”. Adi Sankara’s disciples were angry and set out to admonish the young boys on the street. But Sankara stopped them and asked them to carry on. One of the disciples was furious that his Master be abused like this and secondly he simply could not comprehend why his Master advocated restraint when all that the boys needed was a sound thrashing. So he asked his Master to explain why he choose to ignore the barbs and the stones. Sankara replied: “To pelt stones at anyone and call people names is the privilege of those young boys and they have exercised it. To accept their stones and barbs or not is our privilege. I have exercised our right not to accept that privilege by choosing not to react and to simply move on!”
Beautiful isn’t it? If we can cultivate this attitude and embed it in the way we approach everyday Life, our inner peace will never get disturbed. This attitude also comes in handy when people accuse you of being hypocritical. I am sometimes asked if I ‘really practice all that I preach’? And at some other times I am told that what ‘I preach’ is NOT ‘applicable in practical everyday Life’. I don’t react. I simply smile and move on. Because I have learnt to have no expectations of understanding, appreciation and acceptance from people. Also, in reality, what I do here, through my daily posts, is to share my learnings from my experiments and experiences with everyday living. I don’t preach. I share in the belief that what worked for me, may help validate someone else’s experience or clarify a point of view in them or, if they choose to disagree with my view, will at least help them be clear about what they don’t want to or must not do in Life! So, what’s the point countering a charge of hypocrisy? People believe people are hypocritical because they don’t believe people in the first place. This is particularly true when people are being judgmental and call someone a hypocrite without wanting to know the full story. And that brings us back to the subject of understanding – or the lack of it in everyday Life! So, the best way to live in peace is to appreciate and accept people for who they are – than for what they say – and to not expect anything from anyone.