Finding empathy for the difficult ones, as did Nelson Mandela

nelson mandela“It never hurts to think too highly of a person; often they become ennobled and act better because of it.” ~ Nelson Mandela 

It goes without saying that it is easy — or much easier — to have positive thoughts for people whom you already think highly of. For people that you love. People that you hold close to your heart. People, that you would walk to the ends of the Earth for — say your children. But what about the more difficult people? I’m not referring to the ax murderers of the world … I’ll leave those for God to deal with … but what about the irritating people? The ones who cut you off on the road. The ones that sit right in front of you in the movie theater regardless of the multitude of other open seats. The ones that won’t stop chatting it up with the clerk at the grocery making it next to impossible to pay for your broccoli and leave already. Or the ones (yes, you know where I’m going with this if you know me at all) that chew their gum as if it were their last meal on Earth. What about the irritating folks who leave you feeling exasperated after even the shortest contact … the ones that make you want to scream out loud how much you HATE their bothersome existence — what about them? Is it possible to have empathy for them? To, gulp, as the late Nelson Mandela suggested, “think highly of”?

Most of the time I let those irritating folks bother me more than I should. And I’m guessing you do too — but what if we could change our perception? Not necessarily of their behavior (nothing will ever change the fact that I loathe gum chewing) but of them? But of “hating” them, the human being. And instead of labeling them by their specific unpleasant mannerism, what if we let that go and simply viewed them with compassion? Perhaps the dingbat woman who won’t stop chatting with the clerk is lonely. Perhaps she has no one? And maybe the jerk fella who cut you off actually didn’t see you? As for the gum chewers of the world, I admit, I am at a loss … but for everyone else, this week I am going to work on finding something lovely in at least three people, every single day; people that at first I might find, well, irritating. Because, if after all the evil Nelson Mandela endured, if he was able to find nobility in even one person, then I should be able to find goodness in those that surround my sheltered little life.

I hope you’ll join me in my journey, and learn to stop hating your fellow human beings  — because if Mr. Mandela found it difficult to hate, then surly, it should be next to impossible for the rest of us.

Today’s post sponsored by The Daily Prompt — No, Thank you: “If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?” Oh, and if it wasn’t clear, I would ban the word hate. Ban it to the ends of the Earth.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. it reminds me of the idea that if there is any judgment after this world it will be how we treated those we did not like. thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Patrick Nosler says:


      Sent from my iPhone


  2. Lorraine says:

    Nice post. No shortage of difficult people in the world and the challenge is to not let them wreck your day!

  3. Slamdunk says:

    Neat! I found you again since your blog moved. Haha.

    I agree–overlooking things is good for my stress level and personal health. Life is too short for me to worry about people acting silly.

    Enjoy your weekend Shauna.

    1. SHAUNA says:

      Hey hey hey – sounds like the kid from Fat Albert, hu?? Life is too short – and we are all reminded of this every day, I think … sometimes we just don’t pay enough attention.

      Glad you came by – wow – it’s like finding a high school friend on Facebook – sort of – don;t always like it when they find me :) I’ll “re-find” your place soon too – hope all is well with you and your family.

  4. Betsy says:

    I have been reprimanded by perfect strangers for my gum chewing… My reply is always the same… “It is either gum or a cigarette.”

    1. SHAUNA says:

      What about neighbors :)))

  5. vernette says:

    Well said! This is definitely a must read!

    1. SHAUNA says:

      Thank you! Not as easy to do as it seems though is it :)

  6. Big Daddy says:

    Really great post. I am going to print it and try to read it on a regular basis!

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