Learn To Suspend Your Judgment

The mind-full individual waits and gathers more information. The judgmental individual, immediately labels, diagnoses, and places a judgment upon things.

iuri melo
iuri melo

G'day mates, so glad you are joining me for a quick dose of positivity, optimism, and some skills that I guarantee will enhance your perspective, and your actions. I have a story for you today, and I guarantee that It will have an impact on your perspective. Many years ago, I remember reading "The way of the peaceful warrior" by Dan Milman. I remember being in my late twenties, early thirties and coming across this short and enlightening Zen story. It immediately resonated with me and has stayed with me throughout the years as a reminder to learn to suspend my judgment.

This short story goes a little like this. There was an old farmer who owned a one-horse farm. The farmer lived with his son and his wife, and one day his one horse ran away. Promptly the farmer's neighbors came to him and said, "oh, what terrible misfortune... your one horse ran away!" The farmer replied "maybe."

Three days later the horse returned and brought back with it three wild horses! The neighbors quickly returned to congratulate the farmer, "what great luck, what great fortune!" The farmer says, "Maybe... good luck, bad luck, I don't know."

A week later the farmer's son was breaking one of the horses, got bucked off and broke his leg. His neighbors came running back "Oh what terrible luck, what great misfortune... the gods frown upon you." "Maybe..." once again the farmer responded suspending his judgment.

A week later the Chinese Army was passing through villages recruiting young men to go to the front lines to fight in the war. They came to the farmer's house, but upon seeing his son with a broken leg they said: "well, he has a broken leg, we can't take him, he would be no good to us!" The neighbors ran to congratulate the farmer, "what great luck, what great fortune," to which the farmer wisely responded "maybe..."

This story is significant because it reveals a great natural tendency of ours, and that is for our brains to quickly place a judgment or label upon something that has happened. We can't help it, the brain, being the survivalist and protective organ that it is, sees it as its job to quickly place a judgment of good, bad; threatening or safe; lucky or unlucky; this or that, upon every circumstance. I'm revealing this to you, because I believe it is of critical importance to not only realize that your brain is doing this, but that from this moment forward, you can now learn to observe the brain during this process. There is a degree of safety and comfort in feeling like we know exactly what is going on, the problem, of course, is that we don't! The brain's tendency is to judge a book by its cover. Its habit is to take something that has occurred in the past and assume it's going to happen in the future. These are simply thought-habits that our brain (the machine) computes. We don't need to be upset with our brain; it's what it does, and it does so to protect us. We can thank it, and yet part of my objective today, and I hope yours too, is to become a little more deliberate with our behavior, a little more aligned with our purpose, and more mindful and aware about how our brain functions. By understanding the nature of our brain, and how it works, we can then raise our sights and our understanding to realize that life, events, and circumstances are so much more than that initial judgment that your brain places upon it. Usually events are much richer, nuanced, and complex. So slow your roll. Learn to slow that judgment, and to suspend it, while you curiously gather and discover more critical details that help you to color those events in a more accurate, and hopefully advantageous light.

The wisdom of the farmer is shown in his ability to recognize the brain's ability to quickly make a judgment and label something - this role of course is played by the neighbors - and to gently resist or slow-down that thinking-habit, while maintaining a fullness of mind, and waiting for things to reveal themselves more fully. The mind-full individual waits and gathers more information. The judgmental individual, immediately labels, diagnoses, and places a judgment upon things. Think of the general application of this simple and yet profound philosophy in your place of work. How about in your home, or in your marriage or relationships? At school? When you're driving? Think about your personal experiences. Are you like the men and women of today, who are constantly going about, looking for reasons to be offended. Walking around with stones, ready to condemn... don't be that individual. Learn to stay your hand, and master your emotions, by first understanding and learning to stay, suspend, or slow your judgment, and instead gather more information patiently, with some degree of curiosity, in order to make a more accurate judgment and hopefully one that spreads good will, and that is aligned with your highest character and best values and principles. I hope that as you adopt this simple idea into your heart and mind, that you'll find yourself better able to go into the world a more calm, emotionally tempered, and wise individual... and remember, when your horse runs away, or this or that happens in your life, or the life of others... remember that farmer, and think to yourself... "maybe..." I hope you have a lovely day. Chat with you next week.