I was in a conversation with one of the Franciscan Sisters I work with (in point of fact, I edit her podcast), and she was telling me about a time she ran into an old friend. Someone she hadn’t seen in many years.
He had commented on how well she looked. Happier, less stressed, even younger looking, though it was nearly ten years since they’d last seen each other. What was her secret?
“I learned to look at life with curiosity instead of judgment,” she said.
After thinking this over a great deal, as is my wont, I realized she’s onto something.
Consider what curiosity does to our face. Our expression is relaxed and inviting. We are engaged in the conversation and listening.
In comparison, getting all judgey does nothing for us, beauty-wise.
Even the prettiest face can look frightful.
And yet it seems we are wired to look at the world in a judgmental manner, labeling all we see as good or bad, smart or dumb, in or out.
I look upon it as living life as a critic. Everything we read, taste, hear or experience, we make a judgment. And if we’re offended or angered by it, we might leave a scathing comment or review.
To some degree, this is needed.
Well, not the scathing comment. Except for feeding our own ego, I can’t think of a scenario where that is ever helpful. But making a judgment as to whether you like liver and onions would be wise the next time your partner offers to make you liver and onions.
“No thanks,” you’ll say in the most loving way possible. “I’m afraid liver and onions just aren’t my thing.”
Clearly, we have to make choices on what we like or don’t like if only to keep our taste buds happy and not drive our partners crazy. The problem comes when we focus our critical lens onto people, rather than ideas or things or liver and onions.
And from what I’ve come to learn after working with these Franciscan Sisters for three years, that’s the point our podcasting nun was making. No matter who the person is in front of her, what they look like, how they dress or which way they voted, nothing will keep her from viewing them as a child of God. Which is why her friend found her so youthful; there were no judgey creases around her eyes. Were we to bill this as a beauty tip, it just might catch on.
Of course, one doesn’t have to be religious to be nonjudgmental. Given your own experience, you may think religious people are particularly bad at judging others and if that’s your viewpoint, I won’t judge you for it.
Listen, I know I’ve done enough judging to last a lifetime. One only has to look through some of my previous posts to catch me in action. Assuming, of course, that I haven’t deleted them by the time you read this (kidding!). Moving forward, I’m determined to do better.
Will I miss that smug, self-righteous feeling I get whenever I know I’m right and the other person is wrong, oh-so-very-wrong? Perhaps.
On the other hand, not expressing my opinion on every subject has its benefits. For one thing, I’ll save face when later information proves me wrong, which has happened more times than I care to admit.
For another, there’s a societal benefit to taking a more humble approach. This is from a 2017 article from Scientific American:
(…) self-righteousness can be destructive because it reduces our willingness to cooperate or compromise, creates distance between ourselves and others, and can lead to intolerance or even violence. Feelings of moral superiority may play a role in political discord, social conflict, and even terrorism.“Most People Consider Themselves to be Morally Superior”, by Cindi May
Meanwhile, choosing curiosity isn’t just a beauty tip. Research has shown that curiosity makes people happier, less anxious, and gives them a greater sense of well-being.
I’m willing to give it a shot. Just consider how much I’ll save in eye cream!
And thus ends our ramblings for today. Until next time, be well my friends.
Bad Theology Spotlight
I fully realize I’m judging here, but I couldn’t let this one go:
Worth a Listen…
From Freakonomics: How can we Break our Addiction to Contempt? — with guest Arthur Brooks, an economist who once headed an influential conservative thinktank. (If that turns you off, you need to listen even more.)
From Maintenance Phase: The Anti-Fat Bias – This podcast is a recent find and I’ve been digging through their archives. They spend their time debunking health fads, wellness scams and dodgy nutrition advice. This particular episode is a must, according to their show notes: “Anyone interested in body positivity, airline seats, ‘skinny shaming’ or the sugar content of melons is legally obligated to join us.”
I never get tired of watching Ze Frank’s videos. Whether it’s his Sad Dog Diary or Cats in Therapy, you’re always in for a good time. My personal favorites are his True Facts. They’re like nature shows, but with a comedic touch.
Here’s one he did on Wild Pigs – even if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, do yourself a favor and watch the first 40 seconds or so.
He did a recent one on the Mosquito – give it a watch if you’ve ever wondered what the point of a mosquito is. (And try not to judge.)
Bad Joke Monday
With Halloween quickly approaching, we dove into our archives for this one.
WD of WD Fyfe (currently on hiatus) gave us this for inspiration: What do you call two witches who live together? Broommates!