I confess that whenever I came across a green bag labeled for donation after my children had cleaned their rooms, I would rummage through it.
There I might find books and collectible items I thought they would treasure forever. After all, I had spent many hours finding just the right birthday or Christmas gifts at each stage of their lives.
Over time, I realized that such material things (though inspired by love) are not made to last forever nor should any of us cling to them. Kids grow up and outgrow them all.
The best gifts we can give our children are those they will keep forever.
A priceless gift my parents gave me continues to enrich my life, and I’ve done my best to pass it on to my children. Their gift was to always see (and expect) the best in me.
Though my parents were very thoughtful and deliberate in the decisions they made, I suspect that the ability to see the best in brother, sister and myself was a natural byproduct of their love for us.
We were each unique and as flawed as any other kids. They would give us feedback and correction when we could do better, but they always gave encouragement and praise when we did our best. Much more than looking for what’s wrong in us, they were always looking for what was good.
That simple but profound view – to the see the best in others – is a game changer in everyday life.
More often, we live on the surface of society and when looking at others, stop only on the outer surface. We judge – and then behave – based on appearances, gender, dress or disability, race and roles. We make sweeping judgments, and we forget that we see only glimpses of whole people.
We forget that every person that we pass on the street, sit beside on the bus, and interact with in the course of our daily lives is a complete and complex individual.
Every one of us has hopes and dreams, pain and disappointment. Everyone is someone’s friend or cousin, sibling or parent. When we remember this, we are more open to compassion and it becomes more natural to treat others with kindness and understanding.
Consider this when you disregard or ignore another human being or when you immediately dislike someone you don’t even know. We all have good and bad days, but we can always make someone else’s day better.
With those we live and work with, we can get caught up in our quirky habits and differences. We can take one another for granted and keep a running tally of what we don’t like about each other. One of the secrets of a happy marriage is to deliberately make more positive than negative comments about your partner. It reminds us to look for and express the best in the other, who in turn feels more appreciated.
The teachers who see the best in their students can inspire them to work harder and achieve their best. The manager who sees the qualities of each team member will lead a productive and positive team.
The doctors who can help their patients see themselves as agents of positive change in their own lives will guide them towards their potential for wellbeing.
Today, take a good deep look into the mirror and in every face you meet. See the best in everyone.