I'm going to be honest with you: I don't like everyone I meet. And I bet you don't either. Sometimes in life you come across someone who's not having her best day, or you meet someone you just don't click with, or maybe she's just not very nice. Whatever the reason, you're not going to like everyone you meet. Instead, you learn how to deal with them in a way that leaves you feeling peaceful and leaves them unharmed.
Luckily for us, Patanjali lays out a plan for how to deal with everyone we encounter, let's check out his Sutra from Book One (1.33):
“Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.”
Who doesn't want "undisturbed calmness of mind?" The only one who can give you that, is you. And Patanjali gives a slice of wisdom on how to achieve it.
Let's break it down:
Friendliness toward the happy: This one seems obvious; be kind to those who are kind to you and happy within themselves. But it can be tricky. Sometimes when you encounter someone who is happy, you get annoyed or jealous. "Why are they so happy? Why can't I be that happy? They're TOO happy." When you think these thoughts, the only one you make unhappy is yourself.
Instead of treating their happiness with anger, treat it with friendliness and let it rub off on you!
Compassion for the unhappy: You've already crossed paths with unhappy people, and will continue to do so. Treat them with compassion. Repeat to yourself, "Their unhappiness is theirs alone, may they find peace." You never know what that one act of compassion will do for them. Wouldn't you like to be treated that way when you're blue?
Delight in the virtuous: Do you ever see someone else succeed and immediately get jealous? What happens? You disturb your own peace. You begin to think you aren't good enough. Does their virtue shift? No. Does yours? Yes.
Instead, when you see someone who does well, take a moment and be happy for them. They probably worked very hard, and they deserve their success. Step back from the situation, smile at their blessings and say, "May we all be that blessed one day; I will be that blessed one day." You know that blessings are headed at you!
Indifference toward the wicked: This is a tough one, mainly because when someone is cruel to you it's hard to let it go. If you're like me, you over-think it, asking yourself why they were so cruel, and letting the situation become this big wave in your mind that you can't smooth out. These are the people who just rub you the wrong way.
So how do we deal with them? Patanjali tells us with indifference. They said it, I heard it; they were cruel, but it's my choice how to react. Instead of letting their words hurt your heart or keep you up at night, allow them to slide of your back. Their wickedness is not yours to fix. Let it go.
Patanjali believes that all people can be broken down into these categories at any time. All we need to do is act with friendliness, compassion, delight and indifference. It may not always be easy but only you can control your peace. So start here one step at a time and let the peace in your heart stay undisturbed.
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