On New Year’s Day 2012, I had an interesting conversation regarding my New Year’s Resolutions. I had carefully examined 2011 and determined that it was a year full of change and excitement. But, it was also a year marked with a ton of anxiety.
I decided to use my 2012 resolutions to work on calming down and focusing on what really matters on a daily basis.
Here is what I wrote in my journal in December:
“I am going to stop judging you – unless you are a bad parent or a bad dog owner or one of those people who generally makes the rest of us miserable…I find myself making mental notes about total strangers – what they do, how they talk, how they spend their money, what they wear – you get the idea.
My mind races with all these judgements and in order to gain some peace, I need to eradicate this thinking from my life. Because when it comes right down to it, I really don’t care about the choices you make for yourself, so why am I wasting energy entertaining these negative thoughts?”
This entry helped me develop a few resolutions for the new year and I decided to discuss my idea with a friend.
Friend: What’s the first one?
Me: Stop judging people.
Friend: Really? That’s great!
Me: Well…I am not going to judge people unless they are bad parents or bad dog owners.
Friend (laughing): Jennifer! That means you are still judging!
Me (indignant): Sorry – I just don’t think those two categories get a pass! Everyone else? Cool. Those people? Probably never. But at least I am starting with everyone else?!?
Anyone living in Park Slope would agree with me. Parents who allow their children to barrel into us on their razor scooters and dog owners who can’t be bothered to clean up after their dog deserve our ire.
So aside from those annoying people, I have been living as a non-judger for 2012. And it has been a complete game changer for me.
Wanna wear your pajamas and flip-flops on the streets of New York? Knock yourself out. Think it is a good idea to quit your day job to start a food truck? Best of luck. Who wore it best? Who cares. Wanna max your credit card to have the new ‘it’ bag or shoe? It’s your money/credit, whatever you think is best for you is fine with me.
Freeing my thoughts from judgement has allowed me to refine the things I really care about and prioritize them accordingly. I now live by this creed – If how you live your life does not affect my family’s health, financial status, or freedoms, I really don’t care what you do.
But be warned: If you ask my opinion, I am going to give it to you. One side-benefit of my non-judging? I have become a much better listener. Since I am not busy judging what you are saying, I believe my opinions have become less adversarial and more thoughtful, informed, and gracious. I know that you are just asking what I think. And you already know I am not going to judge you, whether you take my advice or not.
I checked in with my friend last month and told her how much this resolution has calmed me down and changed my life. She reminded me that it is a constant work in progress, but that living in awareness is like having a fog lift. And she is absolutely correct.
I do still have to work at not judging, but it is becoming easier. I am not shy about saying my little creed when conversations turn to gossip or questioning others choices. I just listen and when the conversation slows, I interject,
“I don’t get his/her choice, but as long as it doesn’t affect my family, I don’t care. I don’t have to like it, but I really don’t care. Who needs another beer?”
I really encourage you to give it a try. I think you will be surprised at the amount of nonsense that can clog your brain and I can attest that the more negativity you can dismiss, the happier you will be. Seems pretty obvious, but to a cynical girl like me, I had to see it in action before I knew it was true.