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Suspending Judgment for Happiness Sake

February 8, 2010

This month I’m blogging about Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I’m really enjoying her book, mostly because of the way she really puts herself out there. Connecting with her through her very human experiences is easy to do. I love this excerpt in particular, because it touches upon several things—working on ourselves and not others, learning how to be in a state of non-judgment  (a trait of highly successful people), and not sweating the small stuff.

Here it is…

I had come to understand one critical fact about my happiness project: I couldn’t change anyone else. As tempting as it was to try, I couldn’t lighten the atmosphere of our marriage by bullying Jaime into changing his ways. I could work only on myself. For inspiration, I turned to the twelfth of my Twelve Commandments: ‘There is only love.’

A friend of mine was the source of that commandment. She came up with the phrase when she was considering taking a high-pressure job where she’d be working for a notoriously difficult person. The person handling the process told her, ‘I’m going to be honest with you. John Doe is very effective, but he’s an extremely tough guy to work for. Think hard about whether you want this job.’ My friend really wanted the job, so she decided, ‘there is only love.’ From that moment on, she refused to think critical thoughts about John Doe; she never complained about him behind his back; she wouldn’t even listen to other people criticize him. ‘Don’t your coworkers think you’re a goody-goody?’ I asked. ‘Oh, no’ she said. ‘They all wish they could do the same thing, too. He drives them crazy, but I can honestly say that I like John.

If my friend could do that for her boss, why couldn’t I do it for Jaime? Deep down, I had only love for Jaime—but I was allowing too many petty issues to get in the way. I wasn’t living up to my own standards of behavior, and then, because I felt guilty when I behaved badly, I behaved even worst.

From reading the passage you can assume that this “John Doe” truly is a difficult person, so what exactly did Rubin’s friend do to allow her to totally suspend judgment of her boss? Why couldn’t her co-workers do the same? I’d really love to know! In fact, if I knew her I would ask her:

  • “Why was it okay for you to take a position working for someone you knew was difficult?”
  • “What made it okay?”
  • “What are you doing, exactly, that others are not?”
  • “How are you able to completely ignore John Doe’s behavior and negative actions?”
  • “What have you learned about him that others have not taken the time to learn? How much of a difference has this made to your relationship?”

Her mantra, “There is only love,” definitely seemed to have worked. If you repeated this mantra in your head over and over in the moment someone was upsetting you or pushing your buttons, do you see how it could defuse your anger or aggression? For some people, especially in corporate environments, embracing others with “love” may seem a little mushy. I get it. But, if you bring compassion to the situation (instead of love), perhaps the results would be the same. What do you think?

If you continue to read The Happiness Project you will see how well this mantra, or commandment, works for Rubin. In fact, she decides that giving proofs of love will bring her loads of happiness. So, in closing, I’d like to share a quote by Pierre Reverdy, as Rubin did later in the book, as well as one of my daily inspiration reads from the Daily Kabbalah, which suits this discussion well:

“There is no love; there are only proofs of love. Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only my action.” Pierre Reverdy.


“When we apply resistance in a situation and our opponent throws a bit of time into the space between resistance and reward, the spiritual Light we generate might not shine immediately. This creates the illusion that goodness doesn’t pay. Today, don’t seek an immediate result from your actions. Develop patience. Build your  certainty.”Daily Kabbalah

Give  only proofs of love and suspend judgment: a great recipe for happiness, I believe.

Have a great week. Happy reading.

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership,leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

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2 Responses to “Suspending Judgment for Happiness Sake”

  1. Mom Says:

    Fabulous blog! Great choice of book!

    This week’s excerpts resonate with me as I continue on my path of growth and learning. And the quotes ring true to me.

    Thanks! Looking forward to next week.

  2. David Wilson Says:

    do you by any chance have a source for the quote from Reverdy? (“There is no love; there are only proofs of love. Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only my action,”) yours is the longest bit of whatever it was that I can find but I cannot find any actual works that contain it

    your help will be appreciated

    be well, David Wilson.


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