A Small Percentage
Hello and welcome to Friday, January 21, 2022. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again. I hope that you will make the most of it.
If we consider the population of our communities, nations, and world, we’ll find that the troublemakers make up only a small percentage.
Unfortunately, as many of these people are in positions of power, the consequences of their actions are often far-reaching. But one doesn’t have to hold a high position to cause great harm: even the unkind action of a troubled neighborhood teen can negatively affect the lives of many.
Though I almost never do this, I listened to NPR this morning on my way to work. Granted, I listened for only thirty minutes, but every “news” story focused on troubles here and problems there. While I certainly understand that NPR and other media outlets do occasionally offer uplifting and heartwarming special interest stories, the simple fact is, the troublemakers attract the most news attention. This probably does not come as a surprise to you.
What I often find surprising is how frequently we can lose sight of all the kind, compassionate, caring, and even neutral acts happening all around us every day.
Within our own communities, and all around the world, we find people opening doors for each other, letting drivers merge in front of them, offering compliments, donating to causes, helping people move, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, exercising, showing up to work, making gifts for others, creating non-profits to protect people, animals, and environments, and offering the simple gesture of a smile, even if it is under the cover of an N95 mask.
In terms of sheer number, these positive and helpful actions far outweigh the negative ones which receive so much coverage.
As this is true for the actions of others all around the world, it is also true for us.
Though some are quite skillful at recognizing their good qualities and can acknowledge and accept their imperfections, most of us, it seems, pay an awful lot of attention to our shortcomings and mistakes, and we tend to forget about or minimize all the healthy and skillful things that we do every day.
As a child who frequently got into trouble, I was surrounded by teachers, neighbors, and community members who learned quickly that I was one of those “bad” kids to watch out for. I did some cruel and unkind things as a child that I can’t take back, but the small percentage of my unthoughtful actions underpinned the shame, insecurity, and low self-worth that I carried with me into adulthood. I identified myself primarily by these relatively few negative actions and forgot about all that I did which was truly caring, thoughtful, and kind.
We are more than the mistakes we make.
For those of us who are shamingly overcritical of our unthoughtful and unkind actions, social blunders, Freudian slips, and honest mistakes, it would benefit us to keep in mind that these make up only a small percentage of our actions throughout the day. Of course we mess up now and then and need to be held accountable and to learn from these situations. Nevertheless, if we take an accurate inventory, we’ll surely find that the one unkind thing we said, for instance, is overshadowed by getting up and making our bed, brushing our teeth, eating breakfast, waving and saying hello to the neighbor, driving safely to work, letting a friend take the closer parking space, socializing with co-workers, reaching out to friends and family, exercising, washing dishes, bathing, and watching a movie or playing a game with our family.
While these actions may seem mundane and maybe even insignificant, they make up a much larger percentage of your actions than your faults. When your attention is drawn to that one thing that you don’t feel good about, do your best to be Mindful of all your healthy and skillful actions that make up most of your precious day.
As always, I am here to help.
You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
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