Minute #490: My Way

Nachum impatiently tapped his foot under the restaurant table as Sruli explained his feelings about the new project at work. When the waiter came with the check, Nachum quickly took it over to the cashier, leaving his friend Max sitting with Sruli.

“He’s a nice guy and very smart,” Nachum said to Max as they headed back to work after parting ways with Sruli, “but the next time you go out with him, please don’t ask me to join you.”

“I don’t understand you,” Max said. “You just acknowledged that he is a very interesting and knowledgeable individual.”

“Interesting, yes,” Nachum agreed, “but I just can’t sit back as he drags out his explanations. He doesn’t get to the point quickly enough.”

“I don’t find it at all annoying,” Max said. “I really walk away with new insights every time I hear his analysis — no matter what the subject.”

We all consider ourselves fair  in forming opinions. However, each person sees the world through a filter called middot (character traits). It’s natural for you to project your attitudes and feelings on others who may not be at all the same as you. If you are honest and trusting, it’s difficult for you to suspect another of trickery. Your inner self concludes: “I would never do that, so no one else would, either.” Similarly, a giving, caring individual assumes that another is giving out of the goodness of his heart, without any selfish motives. The truth is that any assumption about another based on comparison to how you personally feel is probably wrong, because no two people have identical bundles of traits. Your projection of self onto another must yield an erroneous conclusion.

To develop a positive outlook on life and a favorable view of others, you must improve yourself day by day. The better your traits, the better everything you see will appear.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

The ability to actually change is rooted in the knowledge that I can change. Once a person understands that he is capable of changing and that is his main purpose in existence, it becomes much easier to grow. (Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier, The Shmuz, p. 193)