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September 6, 2012

I remember the first time I saw the bumper sticker “mean people suck.” I thought it was a silly and obvious slogan to adhere to your rear bumper, but as I age I find this simple thought to be right on. So why are there so many jerks out there?

I’m not sure if some people are born with a deeper well of kindness than others, but I do know that as we mature we encounter struggles that can harden us to the world around us—or serve to further our softening. Sometimes, though, I have to consciously choose to treat someone lovingly—especially if I’m not being treated that way in return. So in honor of the good, kind souls out there who do go out of their ways every day to just be nice; here are five reasons to ignore the haters.

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1. They’re just jealous. Another unfortunate reality of life is that it’s not fair. While some people deal with this as well as possible, others choose to harbor envy and jealousy—and this is generally not the recipe for kindness. So when you find someone being unnecessarily nasty to you, put yourself in their shoes and ponder if they could actually be jealous of you—and then turn your shoes in the other direction and walk away.

2. Being mean is the easy way out. It’s often much easier to react coldly and harshly then to react from a place of love, especially in frustrating situations (which life is known for). Being mean is actually laziness. So feel sorry for someone who continually resorts to cruel words, thoughts and actions as a way of life—because in the end these people only end up making their own lives harder.

3. Misery loves company. All of us get hurt at one point or another. How we deal with that pain is what makes all the difference. When someone treats you inappropriately, question whether or not this person is acting from a place of inner turmoil. While this certainly doesn’t make awful behavior okay, it does offer you an explanation—and a reason to make sure you don’t also turn your pain into someone else’s.

4. You’re better than that. The single, most important reason to ignore the haters and go on with your business is simple—you deserve better. If someone purposefully treats you unkindly, they don’t deserve to upset you. Continue choosing to see the world through your rose-colored glasses. While you can’t make others put them on, they shouldn’t be able to take yours off either.

5. Live through example. Lastly, another reason to ignore the world’s haters is that you don’t want to contribute this type of negative energy to the world. On a selfish level, what you put out is often what comes back to you—and while you might have to deal with difficult people at work or the grocery store, you don’t want them sleeping in your bed. On a deeper level, we need to treat others the way that we want to be treated if we want the world to be a better place. Not only do children learn through example, adults do too—and it’s never too late to stop being a hater.

Mahatma Gandhi once said to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Enough said. Now get out there, ignore those haters and keep on doing what you do best—treating others with love and respect.

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