by Paul Casey

Judging Saps Your Joy

parking lotSo quick to judge.

There’s this park in my small city, that, for years, has not looked like more than a parking lot with weeds and tumbleweeds around it. It has park signage, and I’ve always chuckled in judgment, thinking to myself: “That’s not a park; it’s a parking lot. Doesn’t deserve a sign. Maybe they’ll develop it someday.”

Well, on a bike ride this summer I stumbled upon the actual park! Coming in from the other side, where there are 3 lakes with bike trails around them, I felt silly as I approached that lonely parking lot after seeing the beauty of this oasis practically in my backyard! I had made a judgment without having the whole picture.

Does this ever happen to you? You make a brief first impression, and create a whole negative story in your mind–where it stays until proven otherwise!  You may even spread some bad press about that person, or organization, or situation to your friends and family, or post it on your social media. All the while, you only know one side of the story! Then, sometimes, like me, you find out there is more to that person’s behavior or what actually happened, and you feel like eating your words. But the damage has been done: you can’t take back words; you can only try to make repairs.

So, the lesson from the hidden lakes? For starters, assume positive intent, a principle in the book Say Anything, by Matt Kincaid. Assume there must be more to the story. Second, don’t cast a judgment without getting the other side of the story. Maybe you will never hear the other side–so then again, assume positive intent. The end result of staying open-minded and positive is going through life way more optimistic than the criticizers/judgers/cynics/deflators.

Now, where’s my bike? I need to get back to that park.

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