Today's post is part of Find the Good February, a month dedicated to finding the good in your life (and in yourself!). Each week features a unique theme, and this week's theme is RELATIONSHIPS.
Finding the good in others is such an important part of living a positively present life, but it's often one of life's greatest challenges. Even when it comes to those we love and choose to have in our lives, finding the good in them can sometimes be difficult. (And it goes without saying that it's extremely challenging to find the good in those you don't like very much!) This is something we all struggle with from time to time so I thought it would be a perfect topic to write about for Find the Good February. Here are some of the best ways to find the good in others (both in those you love and those you could do without...):
One of the quickest ways to find fault in others is to compare them to someone else (or to yourself). Everyone is unique and if you're looking for someone to be just like you or someone else, you're going to have a difficult time finding the good in that individual and appreciating who s/he is. This is especially important when it comes to significant others. If you're constantly comparing your current love to someone you've loved before, how are you ever going to truly find the good in your current relationship? (Hint: you won't.) The less you compare, the easier it is to find the good.
FOCUS ON THE PRESENT
Dwelling on what someone has done in the past can make it difficult to focus on who they are now. This doesn't mean you should forget what someone has done, but if someone has made positive progress or atoned for any sins committed against you, it does no good for the relationship (or you!) to continue holding a grudge in the present. People change and one way to find the good in them is to pay attention to how they act right now, not to harp on how they've behaved in the past.
DROP YOUR ASSUMPTIONS
When you make assumptions (particularly about someone you don't know), finding the good can be a challenge. The best way to stop making assumptions is to keep your mind and heart open to what people are actually doing and saying. Try your hardest not to label people into "good" or "bad" categories because, just because someone has behaved badly once doesn't mean they'll behave that way again. Also, if you label someone, it can be hard to mentally shake that label. For example, if you think, "Ugh, my coworker is so annoying," you're going to be looking for the ways she annoys you, which will make it really hard to see her good traits.
If you want to find the good in others, it helps to be interested in them. Keep your mind (and ears! and eyes!) open and you'll be surprised by what you might discover. This ties in with dropping your assumptions. Instead of guessing what someone else is thinking or how they feel about something, ask. One of the best ways to find goodness in others is to ask lots and lots of questions. The more you know about others (especially personal details, like the fact that your boss adores his cat or your dentist has two kids), the easier it is to connect with them and notice the positive aspects.
EXPECT THE BEST INTENTIONS
Another great way to find the good in others is to imagine that every single person is looking out for your best interest. This is very hard to do when someone cuts you off in traffic or your partner says something that enrages you, but the more you focus on how people might be looking out for you, the easier it becomes to find the good in them. More often than not, people do have the best of intentions (even if it might not always seem that way) and, even if they aren't specifically looking out for you, they're not likely looking to hurt you. Keeping this in mind will help you when you're struggling to find the good in difficult people.
APPRECIATE THE FLAWS
Each and every one of us is flawed in some way. We all have emotional baggage that we drag around with us. We've all been hurt by someone. We've all been born with unique personality traits that are sometimes less-than-ideal. Appreciating flaws might sound negative, but it's actually a very positive thing to do when it comes to finding the good in others. Keeping in mind that we all -- including you! -- have our stuff (emotions, personalities, etc.) makes it easier to be compassionate and empathetic when others aren't showing their best sides, allowing us to find the good even when things aren't great.
We're all crazily unique beings and, to be honest, it's a wonder that any of us get along at all! I know how hard it can be to find the good in certain people. Some people are just difficult (and, hey, you might even be one of those people!) and some situations are downright challenging -- but if you strive to find the good in others, you'll not only improve your relationships with them, but you'll strengthen yourself emotionally as well. Plus, the more you focus on the good, the easier it becomes to enjoy time spent with others (even if they aren't people you particularly enjoy). Seeking out the good in others won't make every person seem wonderful, but it's definitely going to help you make the most of each and every one of your relationships.
Want to explore how to have a more positive, present life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)