Sunday, January 10, 2016

Good Intentions

Isn't it amazing how sometimes someone can teach you profound without even realizing it?

A while ago I was having a conversation with my dear friend Kathy G.  I cannot remember the exact topic of our conversation, but I do remember that I was questioning someone's motives for doing something that did not make sense to me.  She said the simplest thing to me, as if we had had a long conversation about it and this was just a reminder.  She said, "presume good intent".  That stopped me in my tracks.  If I stopped to look at the situation through those lenses, I would assume something different that what my current assumption was.  I also noticed it felt a lot better to assume the best in someone's intentions instead of the worst.  It felt lighter, happier.

Though she was not aware she had said anything profound to me, I mulled over her three words for the next few days and began applying "presume good intent" to situations around me.  For example, instead of assuming the person driving 25 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone was on their phone or just not paying attention, or worse yet, trying to annoy me, I decided to assume maybe they had a good reason for driving that slowly - perhaps they were feeling sick, or for some reason didn't feel safe driving that fast, or perhaps they were old.  It made it so much easier for me to be patient and assume the best.

Now when I observe or hear something that does not make sense to me, instead of judging or assuming the worst, I am trying to develop a habit of  "presuming good intent".  Why not think of the best possible scenario instead of the worst possible scenario?  Reasons why my teenager might not be answering their phone, or is late for their curfew, or why a spouse fails to do something they said they would, or a neighbor or stranger does something that could be interpreted as less than kind, or a million other assumptions that we make every day.

Imagine if we all cut each other some slack and assumed the best in interpreting each others actions and intentions.  How would that change us?  How would that change the world around us?

I, for one, have felt much lighter, less burdened, and happier since I have learned the MAGIC of  presuming good intent.  And isn't being happy what we all want?