REFLECTION & ACTION: As I listen to reports of life’s daily events, I witness indignation, wailing, and gnashing of teeth over supposed slights and imagined dastardly deeds. Yes, I even catch myself engaging in these flights of fancy from time to time.
Sometimes an illness is just an illness-not something caused by careless hygiene, dubious nutrition, or medical malpractice. Sometimes lost keys and bank cards are misplaced-not the work of a stealthy thief with sticky fingers. Sometimes an offhand remark is just plain thoughtless-not part of a diabolical plot to undermine our authority or self-esteem. Talk about blowing things out of proportion!
At the same time, much of the stress that leads someone to behave badly remains invisible to others. We aren’t always privy to each others’ burdens: an angry client, an ailing parent, a truant teen, a leaky roof, a dwindling bank account, a frightening medical report, an estranged friendship.
Let’s be more magnanimous with ourselves and each other. It’s a great word for stressful times: magnanimous refers to a loftiness of spirit that helps one bear trouble calmly. It means “to scorn meanness and revenge.”
Put more simply, magnanimity (another mouthful) is a generosity of mind. It means cutting someone slack, extending the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe the driver who cut you off is on the way to a medical emergency. Maybe the person who hasn’t returned your phone call didn’t receive your message. Maybe the sales clerk who overcharged you for an item is adjusting to a new pair of glasses.
These possibilities are worth considering when you’re about to hold someone’s feet to the fire-including your own. More magnanimity, please!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – John Watson
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
“We had a surprise blizzard today-severe and short-lived-yet it caused another death on the highway. I was totally stressed out. I had to perform home-care chores for my elderly mother because the regular home-care provider couldn’t travel. I wanted to order a pizza and discovered the restaurant was opening an hour later. I tried to be cordial to the pleasant waitress, even though I was upset. When I returned home, I read your message about being more magnanimous. I immediately called June, the waitress, to tell her the pizza was super and we enjoyed it. Thanks to observing the ‘M’ word, I’m still smiling brightly. I’m sure June is as well.” – Gregg H.