Have you ever met a prejudiced or malicious preschooler? I bet not, since caring for your fellow man is actually as innate as breathing. Simply observe two young children playing alone and this built-in propensity becomes obvious. Absent of parental hovering, direction, control, or judgment, it is virtually impossible for one youngster to put the needs of himself or herself above the other.
In fact, void of learned behavior, you own natural predisposition to care for others -- acquaintances and total strangers -- would flourish in the exact same fashion.
Simply stated, children care because at a young age their process of thought is limited -- they don't spend a lot of time tending to the thoughts (even judgmental thoughts about others) that randomly pop into their heads. However, as we grow, our intellect kicks in and we start tending to these random thoughts. Thus, our inclination to consider the needs and insecurities of others often becomes hazy.
To illustrate, last month while I was in the UK, I met a man from Israel who was having trouble ordering a copy of Stillpower. As he described his frustration, my mind was immediately flooded with a solution: "When I get home, I'm going to send him a copy of the book straight away." But then, arbitrarily, my thinking ramped up and spun me off course, I thought: "If I do that for him, I'll have to do it for everyone. My publisher won't like it. Perhaps, as an author, I'm not supposed to be so approachable, etc." Luckily for me, though, my bound-up thinking created an anxious and egotistical feeling in my gut -- my sign to follow my original and instinctual sentiment of sending him a book.
Here, then, is my message about caring for others: If not for a misunderstanding about, and belief in, your own thoughts, compassion for your fellow man would be automatic and obvious. Therefore, even when your thinking and ensuing state of mind are not generating goodwill, you are still capable of it.
For example, the other day my daughter was upset that her new field hockey jersey had arrived with the wrong number on it. At first she wondered, "Why me?" Then, as she sensed the wayward direction that her thoughts were taking her, she said, "You know what, if this had to happen, I'm glad it happened to me. I wouldn't want one of my teammates to feel like this." Brilliant!
The bottom line is that the next time you aren't taking into consideration the feelings of others, it's perfectly normal and okay. Just remember, the self-centered feeling within you is actually your custom-designed reminder that it's you that is off, not the world around you. In other words, it's possible to care, even when you don't want to. And when you do, your consciousness and level of productivity will rise in a flash -- along with your inborn kindness, understanding, and love.
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