Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Answer to the Problems of the World

The Answer to the Problems of the World

Saying only what is kind, useful, and true encouraged me to look at the value and strength in my relationships with everyone I communicated with throughout the day. Practicing this Jesuit technique of self-observation, I became more aware of my surroundings, thought more about the meaning of what I was saying, and learned about myself. I was eager to put myself up to the challenge so I could see the strengths and weaknesses in my relationships. However, I was a little fearful because my friends said they were going to give me an extra hard time when I told them about the assignment. All in all, I found Tuesday to be a successful day that taught me a lot about other people and myself.

            I started off my day by saying “good morning” and “have a nice day” to my roommate. Although I do this every morning, it made me happy to realize that my roommate and I have such a good relationship that I do not need to “try” to say what is kind, useful, and true. I was off to a good start. After doing homework for a little while, I decided to get breakfast with some friends. While enjoying my bagel, I ran into some other friends who started a conversation about someone we all knew back at home. Quickly, the conversation went downhill and I found myself agreeing with these negative thoughts that I did not actually have. It suddenly hit me that according to the social standards of our culture, we tend to feel the need to gossip about other people in order to grow closer to someone and form a relationship. I realized halfway through the conversation that these were not my true feelings and that I should not have said anything at all or should have taken a stand on what I considered to be the truth. On top of that, looking around boulder, I saw a girl in a club I am involved in sitting at a nearby table. If she was to have heard me agreeing with this conversation, what would she think of me? This was an eye opening experience of how joining and agreeing with something you do not agree with can portray an inaccurate image of who you are. By self-reflecting, I realized the importance that truth holds and how it should not be exchanged for fear of disagreeing with someone. 

As the day progressed, however, I thought more and more about past situations that I could have handled differently. In the past, I often got myself into trouble by saying unnecessary things that only negatively impacted a situation. I, of course, realized this after the repercussions came my way when I would ask myself “was what I said really that important? Did I really need to say that?” Going through the day, I was able to weed out what was necessary and what was unnecessary only by taking a few extra seconds to actually think about whether the aftermath would be negative or positive. By doing this, I felt more in tune with my own thoughts which helped me see the importance of thinking before speaking. This then lead to some more self-reflection about where my thoughts came from. After thinking about this, I then decided to challenge myself further, to my best ability, to think positive thoughts all day. Unsurprisingly, these positive thoughts put me in a better mood which resulted in me treating people better.

What I found most interesting during the day were the interactions I had between children, adults, and my peers. When speaking to adults, including professors and the employees working at boulder, I did not find myself thinking so much about whether or not what I was saying was kind, useful, and true. Due to the respect I have for adults, I would not say anything otherwise regardless of whether or not I was doing this iExamen. On the other hand, I found myself being a lot more cautious about what I was saying when I was with my friends. Since I spend most of my time with them and often say what is on my mind, I needed to apply the filter of what is kind, useful, and true in more instances. On Tuesdays, I have the privilege of working with first graders at Guilford Elementary. Not once did I consider what I was saying to them to not be kind, useful, or true. After these interactions, I realized an interesting correlation between how I communicated with my peers and with children. Due to my inability to ever say anything unkind to a child, I must find a way to be able to say something truthful at the same time. As a result, they put me in the situation to learn how to be assertive and truthful while still being kind. It is amazing that I can apply communication skills that I learned from first graders to my college friends. Thinking about how I communicated with all these different groups of people, I began to wonder if my conversations with my family were kind, useful, and true. Since my family knows me best and I am completely myself around them, would they see a difference in how I acted on Tuesday? To find this answer, I plan to try this self-examination technique next time I see them.

Something I realized throughout the day, however, was that in order to tell the truth about something, I had to give up some of my kindness. For example, that night, one of my friends vented to me about a problem they were having with another friend of theirs. I knew they wanted me to agree with them and take their side, but I could not do so without lying. At that point, I once again found myself between telling the truth or being a kind friend and taking their side to show my support. Unlike my previous encounter that day, I found myself trying my best to put my true thoughts and feelings into the kindest words possible. Unfortunately, my friend was still bothered and surprised that I did not take her side. I feel like people sometimes agree with what they do not think is true in order to be “kind.” Similar to what I mentioned earlier, distinguishing this difference between what is true and untrue about my thoughts helped me reflect upon myself and discover my true feelings.

Since I was constantly thinking about what is kind all day long, I realized, before I fell asleep, that my thoughts moved from myself to others because I was not thinking about how to be kind to myself, but how to be kind to others. Although being kind makes me feel good about myself, the true results of my attempted kindness can only be reflected through the people it affects. Ironically, I learned more about myself by thinking about how to treat others and how I conduct myself around others.


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