We would all like the world to be more similar to us. Because that would make it much easier to live in. The more your personal values are aligned with your environment, the better you fit in somewhere. The more your values are aligned with the values the world is currently respecting, the better off you should be, assuming you don’t face any other tough situations, like strong cognitive distortions.
Let me give you an example. If you strongly believe in nationality and borders, it probably irritates you that both are becoming less and less important due to globalization. There’s a difference between your values and the values of your environment, and that causes friction. On the other hand, you may be a technology enthusiast and love the general priority given to technological advancement. Your personal values are aligned with what the markets respect. It’s the same with political and economic systems, global trends and other environmental factors. Since the world is becoming flat, all people can feel the global influence of values changing.
But another important trend is also occurring. The world is becoming more and more diverse and interconnected. That’s a big benefit you should take advantage of. As the world becomes more tolerant and one big global market place, you can easily find communities with the same values as you. You aren’t alone or in a minority anymore. All you have to do is connect yourself online.
Being able to connect with people sharing the same values as you without immigrating is a big advantage you should deeply respect. Even more: you should encourage diversity and let other people be who they are and connect with people and societies they most fit into. Variety is the spice of life, diversity makes life interesting. If you don’t see it that way, shifting your thinking in that kind of way will strongly enrich your life.
From judging to observing, noticing and learning
People are very forgiving towards themselves and judge others so quickly. It helps us feel our own importance as well as protects our values. Quickly judging others is how we try to shape the world to be more in line with our values.
You can do a simple test. If you stand firmly for something, you can easily find people who will brutally criticize you publicly and even more cowards who will do it anonymously on the internet. Just look at the comments on anything published online.
There’s nothing wrong with discussion, arguments and debates. There’s nothing wrong with showing data and describing the objective reality as closely as possible. But the fastest progress comes out of constructive debates, merging different views and out-of-the box experiences. Variety also allows people to live in different communities the way they want to, the way they want to experience the world.
You can benefit from that in many ways. As Scott Fitzgerald nicely said: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” It’s the best way to learn, improve, innovate and expand your thinking horizon. Remember that in 1000 years, science will probably prove that almost everything we believe now is wrong, even though it’s currently scientifically proven.
If you don’t agree with someone and start judging, you put your ego before learning something new. When you judge someone else, you judge yourself and thus you limit your thinking horizon. You see the world as black and white. Someone is wrong and you’re right. It’s called “all or nothing” thinking and it’s one of the most frequent cognitive distortions.
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Perceiving personality types embrace that kind of thinking more easily than judging types. But even if you’re a judging type of person, which you probably are if you’re extremely organized, you benefit a lot from going from only a judging personality to also observing and learning from different perspectives.
Here are some ideas for developing observing and learning abilities alongside the judging mindset.
- Let go of your ego. Never put your ego before learning something new, trying new things, understanding different views and expanding your horizons. It’s how you become a wiser, more aware and enlightened human being. Understanding different views and values makes you a richer person internally. You’ll be able to connect with more people and have more loving connections. Stop judging and start observing how people think, what they believe in and value, and why. Rather than feeling defensive or offensive, ask yourself why, five times if necessary.
- Practice empathy. Judging most often means deciding what’s right and what’s wrong according to your own opinion, following a subconscious autopilot. But your opinion is a subjective reality and probably far removed from the objective one. In fact, no one understands objective reality, but the more angles we understand, the closer we are. Instead of quickly judging, walk a mile in the shoes of a person with a different view. Ask yourself why, try to think, feel and understand the different angles; and stay respectful.
- Tolerance. Tolerance is one of the most important values of progress. If you want to improve in life, you have to be tolerant, you have to be open-minded, try new things, experiment, and accept failure. You can’t be tolerant towards trying and implementing new things if you’ve already firmly decided on everything. To build tolerance, you have to trust yourself more and you have to see that your values and beliefs are not threatened if someone else sees things differently. Disagreement isn’t being intolerant; but not respecting other people with different views is.
- Positive energies. Brutally judging is what divides people and spreads hate. If we subjectively see something as entirely good and something else as entirely bad, there must be a fight between good and bad. But in reality, nothing is entirely good and bad, except pure evil. There are no black and whites, only different shades of gray. Don’t curse the dark, light a candle. Spread positive energies and be a role model for empathy, tolerance, love and integration. We judge because we’re afraid. If we’re loved, we don’t have to be afraid of anything. Love is the first thing that bridges differences.
- Staying flexible. Being agile means being flexible and adaptable. The more fixed you are in your thinking and the bigger your fixed expectations towards life, the bigger the potential for your disappointments is. The world is definitely different from what you wish it would be. So you have to see it as a playground, a place with endless possibilities where you can put your life together as you want. You have to stay flexible to find your best fits, try new things and adapt, especially if the world is going in different directions than your current values. You only have one life, you don’t want to spend it bitter and angry and grumpy, just because you aren’t flexible in your thinking.
- Data before rhetoric. Despite different opinions, there are things (systems, ideas etc.) that work better than others in a specific situation and in a specific environment. Every social circle needs an optimal structure for progress. But again, it’s not about judging, it’s not about arguing and fighting, but about scientifically proven facts. Always put data before rhetoric.
Don’t tolerate evil, be a hero
Being tolerant doesn’t mean simply agreeing with everything. It’s about respecting people and having a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from your own. It’s about an opportunity to expand your thinking horizon and let diversity of life exist, and enjoy it to the full.
But no matter how tolerant and respectful and loving you are, there is evil in all of us. And that’s one thing you shouldn’t tolerate. You should understand it, you should be aware of it, you should study it, but you should never tolerate evil behavior. It can especially come out in three types of situations.
- The first one is in all the people who were raised or born in hostile environments, like war, abusive families etc. A lack of love and healthy environment in the first few years of upbringing leaves a lot of psychological damage. People like this need professional help.
- The second one is finding yourself in a system or a situation that brings out the evil in you. Once again this means situations like war, gangs, poverty etc. Situations that put people in fear for their own existence and fear of their needs not being met, wake up evil fighting spirits. They bring out the desire for dominance in order to gain safety and resources.
- The third type are systems that aren’t transparent and where people think they’ll easily get away with hurting others. In situations like that, people’s desire to overpower others prevails. Evil prevails. Look at what anonymity on the internet does. That’s why we need more transparent environments, with an adequate reward and reintegration system.
The more evil is tolerated, the more it grows and the stronger it becomes. So you shouldn’t tolerate hostile and harmful behavior in any community. Starting in your home, the company you work for and other societies you belong to.
And secondly, we should all strive to build a better global system that will have zero tolerance towards evil and harmful behavior. Never get so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance.
As Philip Zimbardo suggests in his study of evil: “You must refocus away from evil to understand heroes. Heroism is when ordinary people do extraordinary deeds in certain situations. The very same situation that can inflame the hostile imagination, in those who become perpetrators, can also inspire the heroic imagination in others. Heroes are ordinary people whose social actions are extraordinary. The key to heroism is two things. You've got to act when other people are passive and you have to act socio-centrically, not egocentrically.”
Five things you can do to spread tolerance:
- Act out of desire for prestige, not dominance.
- Be tolerant, loving and respectful of people and diversity. Go home and love your family, love yourself and others.
- Fight for a cause that matters to you, but fight as a peaceful warrior.
- Don’t approve of evil acts and behavior. Report, inform, and don’t only mind your own business.
- Contribute to transparency and integrity of the society. We’re going in the right direction, we’re living in the most peaceful times in history, we just have to keep up the trend, but be faster in rooting out poverty, domestic violence and other similar situations.
Do not judge. Observe, notice and learn.