It can be hard to keep your outlook positive–all kinds of obstacles arise for all kinds of reasons.
In America, for all our political correctness, there is often an embrace of snarkiness, mockery, shaming and especially labeling.
Don’t like a political point of view? Slam it. Label it evil.
Don’t like a person in the public eye? Slam them. Label them rotten.
Disagree with a friend or family member? Pigeonhole them in any number of unpleasant categories.
Labeling is different than constructive criticism. Constructive or healthy criticism is a route by which we can honestly point out negatives.
And, real negatives do exist. Not every person or every viewpoint is equally valid. If there were, then cheating, murder and robbery would be considered valid by some.
But labeling, non-constructive criticism or ad-hominem attack is a way of shutting down any possible response other than surrender.
If you call someone evil or stupid, then you’ve shut down rapport. (Yes, there is racism, sexism, evil and lack of thoughtfulness, but not everyone who expresses unpopular viewpoints embodies these.)
The Power to Change Begins with the Recognition that Good Does Exist
Know! You must judge all people favorably. Even in the case of a complete bad guy you must search until you find some drop of good in a person, the part that is not evil. By finding this small drop of good and judging him favorably, you are genuinely able to lift him to the place where he has some merit and this enables him to return to his true, higher self. –Rebbe Nachman of Breslov*
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught that even if you really do see someone who seems to be doing a lot of dodgy stuff, trying to find the good point in them can actually bring about massive change.
This doesn’t mean giving bad behavior (or criminal behavior) a pass. It means by looking for the good in others, we and they gain three-dimensionality. No longer are they defined by an ism.
How often do we turn someone into a two-dimensional, card-board cutout because we dislike one thing about them? Or, condemn someone whose viewpoints we disagree with, and forget to see the point of goodness inside?
And how often do we forget to see the positive inside ourselves, too?
*Translated and paraphrased