Seeing the Good in Others
Looking for the good qualities - such as strengths, good intentions, talents, virtues, efforts - in another person can have many benefits. Seeing the goodness in someone can improve your interactions and relationship with that person, and also bring out the best in him or her. Through this practice you are inclining your mind to look for the good, while also offering others the gift of being “seen” with kindness.
Look for good qualities in one or more people you meet each day.
- When you wake up in the morning, set the intention to look for the good qualities in one or more people you encounter this day.
- When you meet someone, look for one or more good qualities in him or her. These qualities can be mild, such as a basic sense of fair play. The other person does not need to be a saint, and can have problematic qualities as well (as most of us do).
- Remember that, just like you, this person wishes to be safe, happy, and free from suffering.
- Imagine that you are seeing a fundamentally noble being deep down inside him or her.
- Let the intention of seeing good in others guide your actions as you speak and interact with this person.
- Notice how this person responds to being seen and treated in this way. Also, notice your internal responses toward this person.
- If you wish, gradually increase the number of days you do this practice. Also, work with seeing goodness in all people you encounter, including strangers or difficult people.
Seeing goodness in others is practiced in many cultures and praised by many, including the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. The method presented here was adapted from a practice created by Jack Kornfield called Seeing The Secret Goodness, and a practice by James Baraz titled Looking for Joy.
Sometimes it can be challenging to find good qualities in strangers or difficult people. Be patient with yourself as you do this practice, and keep continuing to search for any good qualities in this person.
In India, it is common to greet others by bowing and saying, “namaste,” which means, “I honor the divine in you.”