Hello my fellow human Beings:
In first reflecting on this question, you may not consider giving the benefit of the doubt as something that is generous.
….but just pause and think about it for a moment….
How do you normally reaction to one of the following situations?
- A family group arrives late to an important event or family gathering that you are hosting.
- A colleague looks disheveled and “out-of-it” when attending your Monday morning staff meeting.
- A friend cancels attending your wedding at the last minute.
Do you judge the person as tardy, having been out drinking and partying the night before, or inconsiderate?
Do you form an opinion of why they have acted in this way thinking the worst of them?
Do you focus on how bad it makes you feel and how their behaviour makes you look in others’ eyes?
We are often quick to judge others and create stories that feed our egos. We tend to focus on the ME-ME-ME, rather than putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes.
What is their real story? What were the circumstances that perpetuated their actions? Perhaps:
- Their toddler decided to play hide-and-seek with their car keys and they spent 45 minutes searching the house for them.
- The colleague’s elderly parent was rushed to hospital on the weekend and she or he has lived at the hospital all weekend, not getting much sleep as the medical staff try to solve the mystery of the parent’s acute heart and breathing problems.
- When getting ready for your wedding, your friend gets a long-distance call that their mother has died and must make immediate plans to catch the next flight out of the country to attend to her funeral arrangements.
Often we don’t know what someone’s back-story is, what their immediate circumstances are, or what is weighing heavily on their minds.
So being able to give someone the benefit of the doubt is a generous gesture that shows that you love and care for that person even in the uncertainty of the cause of their seemingly inappropriate behaviour.
Martine Batchelor, author, meditation teacher and former Korean Zen Buddhist nun, in her book, Meditation for Life, reminds us of this important quality of generosity when she writes:
“Generosity is an important quality that is generally associated with money, although that is only a minor part of its meaning. How can you be more generous in your thought, speech and actions? The first step is to learn to give others – and yourself – the benefit of the doubt. It is so easy to be negative, expecting yourself to fail and others to be up to no good. If a small baby is crying, is your first reaction to think that he or she is doing it on purpose, just to be awkward and annoy you? No, you instantly react by asking yourself what the matter is and trying to soothe the child. In the same way, you could be open, spacious and generous in your relationships with yourself and other people.”
So as you go about living your lives this week, seek out ways to be more generous with your thoughts, speech and actions.
Give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt.
Don’t immediately react with judgement to a situation.
Let go of your instant ego reaction.
Be still and connect to your true self filled with love, peace and joy.
Then take the right compassionate action to be generous and loving in the circumstances.
In this way, we will take steps together to live more abundantly.