1. Patience & Objectivity
Practice being patient and more objective with someone who doesn’t push your buttons so much—someone you don’t know personally, perhaps, such as a political figure or other person in the news, or maybe a friend of a friend. Think about someone distant from you, someone who you have a negative opinion of.
Cultivate patience and its cousin, objectivity. (If you remain as objective as possible, you will automatically gain patience.)
2. Humility & Perspective in Judgment
Remind yourself that unlike the Creator who is able at all times to see the good inside each of us, we aren’t omnipotent. We are bound by time and space. Therefore, it is completely impossible for us to know every thought or feeling another person has had or every action he has done. We are judging the person as he is in only one moment of time.
There are 52,560,000 minutes in one hundred years (assuming your “villain” lives a nice, long life). Your odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are about one in three thousand. You have a far greater chance of being struck by lightning than knowing what is going on in another person’s heart the other 52,559,999 minutes of his life.
Ask yourself, would you want to be judged on the few minutes in your life where you personally failed? Or would you rather be judged on the other millions of minutes where you succeeded in being the kind, honest, generous person you truly are?
Once you’ve mastered the ability to think more kindly of a stranger, then you can progress thinking kindly of a colleague, maybe someone in another office you don’t run into too often. Then your workmate. Even your boss.
What about those closest to you? Are you able to ignore their irritating habits? What about the past hurts? Practice on your parent. Your sibling. Your spouse. Your child.
Oh, and once you’ve mastered the art of giving benefit of the doubt to others and finding their good points, don’t forget to do the same for yourself. Remind yourself of all the good deeds you’ve done, your generosity, the effort you make to help another.
If you can’t recall grand good deeds, think of all the little ones.
Maybe you fulfilled your obligation to do the work your employer expects of you? Did you pay for the groceries on your way home (you probably didn’t steal them)! Smiled at your neighbor?
3. Practice & Remember
Practice finding the good points in your noisy neighbor. Your enemy. Your friend. Actually list the good points, silently, verbally, or even in writing. Actually practice.
Remember the good things they’ve done in the past. Remind yourself of your friend’s good deeds yesterday every time they push your buttons today.
Take gingko if you have to, but don’t forget the good you see.
This post is based on Azamra: The 7 Habits of Highly Connective People by C.R. Zwolinski.