My friend Jo Casey was kind enough to invite me to hang out on her podcast recently. She asked me a question that’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever been asked: “If you could change 1 thing in the world, what would it be?”
My answer surprised me. You might think that it would have been something about more kindness, for people to treat themselves better so they can live/work/feel better; but that’s not what came out.
My answer was then, and still is: “I would want everyone to be able to see our common humanity.” I genuinely believe that we are all more alike than different, but we’re human and for the most part we all walk around judging each other (and ourselves). My #1 wish is that we could see our similarities more than our differences.
From small situations like getting pissed at the person who cuts you off in traffic to big ones like wars and borders; can you imagine a world where we saw more similarities in each other than differences?
This answer got me thinking, and while you may not be able to end the wars around the world, this is absolutely a practice you can undertake. Getting pissed off in traffic is a great example. Sure, the person was wrong for cutting in front of you without a turn signal but I bet you can think of a time when you did something similar. Take it a step further and think how little you know about that person’s circumstance. Maybe they’re just running late for work, but what if they’re distracted by a sick family member who they’re going to see in the hospital? You really can never know so why not make the more generous assumption?
This is a consistent practice. We’re wired and socialized to judge. Our brains like to categorize and try to make sense of everything. Everything around us seems to be conspiring to make us see our differences…but that doesn’t mean you have no power. Look for the generous assumption. Find the common humanity. We really are much more alike than any of us realize.