Humans are judgment machines. We can’t help it. Since the beginning of time, we have had to judge everything. In the beginning, this was a survival mechanism. “Is this going to eat me?” “Should I stay, or should I go?” Back then, it was only about survival.
We humans are still asking ourselves questions regularly. Unfortunately, the questions we are asking tend to cost us joy instead of saving our lives. The sad part is that we don’t even realize we are doing it. Our consumer-based society has been programmed through the years of advertising that this is how we should look at everything. The most insidious of all questions and the one that has caged our society is “Do I like it?”. We ask this question about everything.
-Do I like the new person I just met?
-Do I like this new church I just visited?
-Do I like this meal?
-Do I like my spouse?
-Do I like my car?
-Do I like my neighbor?
-Do I like my job? My in-laws? This article?
We have been programmed to judge everything. This is misery. We seek perfection in all things, from restaurants to neighborhoods to spouses to governments. In reality, we are just a bunch of spoiled brats. We only enjoy something if we “like it.” This constant judgment will rob you of real joy because nothing will ever be perfect. The pull to judge every moment of an experience versus the ideal robs us of the moment.
When we gather as friends, the conversation can often turn to judgment. The saying “misery loves company” is especially true in today’s society. This is the undercurrent of our culture, and here is why. If I don’t “like it,” someone else is to blame. Instead of accepting the responsibility for our personal satisfaction, we pass the responsibility on to others. Think about it. How often do you show up to be served or entertained? If you are like me, nearly every time! We all do it, and it is a tough habit to break. Breaking this habit will do more to increase your level of contentment than any pill they can offer.
Here are some suggestions for reducing narcissistic tendencies:
What am I grateful for?
If you have read my articles in the past, this will be a familiar theme. Science has proven the power of gratitude. When we are grateful for the opportunity to work, our job becomes a little more bearable. When we are thankful to have a home, its flaws are a bit more tolerable. When we are grateful for having a spouse that loves us, their faults (based on your judgment) are easier to overlook, or better yet, accept. Gratitude and judgement are opposing forces. This is the battle that takes place in our minds every day if we allow it. The sad state of affairs in our society is that consumerism has us so focused on ourselves; we are robbed of joy. Instead of being grateful for our family, we are resentful because of all the “perfect” families on Facebook. Compare and despair. The number one thing you can do to increase your satisfaction with your life is to be grateful for what you have already. Stop asking yourself, “Do I like…” every second of every day.
What is right?
Our judgment machine seeks flaws as if there is some hidden prize for discovering them. We look at a beautiful house, and instead of pointing out the positive attributes, we focus on the negative ones. It isn’t any wonder we are drained at the end of the day. Judgment takes a lot of energy. Contrast that with appreciating the positive attributes to understand how to supercharge your life. Always look for what is right with the situation instead of what is wrong with it. Get real, Russ. Sometimes it sucks. You are right, sometimes it does suck, but if you “enhance the suck,” it will suck less. Instead of embracing it, we tend to lament about it. We let our miserable condition spiral into an ever-increasing miserable condition. We fail to realize that we only have control over one thing in our lives – our minds. I have written about this before, but the bottom line is that the only thing we have total control over is the hunk of meat between our ears. We control our thoughts, and therefore we control our response and our attitude. Unfortunately, the majority of us were never taught how to manage our thoughts and emotions. Instead, we were introduced to value and judge all things based on our feelings. Learning to get control of your mind will totally change your life. It will free you from the bonds of “value-based” living. That is worthy of a deeper dive, but for now, I challenge you to look for what is right in your world instead of judging all that is wrong with your world.
How can I serve?
Science has proven that serving others is the best way to enhance our overall satisfaction with our lives. The key is to serve selflessly versus selfishly. Often, we serve for recognition. This type of service will not enhance your life, but only serve your ego. The kind of service I am writing about is focused on bringing value to others. Did you know this is possible in your job every day? Are you looking to see what you can get out of your job instead of what you can put into your job? Unfortunately, we have been trained to judge our job based on what we are getting out of it. What if you asked yourself what you could put into your job? The people that ask this question thrive. They don’t wait to be told what to do because they are looking for a need to fill or a problem to solve. These types of employees are rare and exceptional. They climb the responsibility ladder because they seek to serve rather than put in their hours. Serving is almost selfish because it is the surest way to accumulate growth. Ask yourself this question and list all the possible answers: How can I add more value to my role and my employer and customers? Stop only asking what you are getting from this job. There is definitely a reason to ask yourself that question, but not every day. If you are not appreciated, point it out. Our tendency is to sulk and commiserate about our situation. Do something about it. Increase your value and demonstrate that value to others. Trust me; if you truly bring value, corporate America will reward you. Most workers are looking for more to do more, but they have it all wrong. You must do more to receive more. People focused on service are significantly more satisfied in life than their peers.
When we defer to judgment, we lose some of the greatness life has to offer. We subjugate our responsibility for being satisfied. We never really get that “when I” spot. It will elude us all our lives if we continue to rely on others and society to satisfy our insatiable nature. When we accept less than perfect from others and begin to appreciate what they have created for us, our outlook begins to shift. When we accept that things go wrong and life is a struggle, we enable ourselves to work through the trials. To truly live life is to truly take responsibility for our lives. Be honest with yourself in answering this question: Am I frequently basing my level of satisfaction with my life on my value judgment of every experience? I struggle with this answer because I am living in the age of unparalleled compare and despair. Meditation has truly helped me to realize that very little truly matters and that the goal of marketing and social media is to convince me that everything matters. I am still a judgment machine, but I am learning not to let the values of society be my measuring stick. Instead, I ask how it compares to my personal values and then choose whether to take it or leave it. My challenge to you is to delete your Facebook app from your phone. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that it enhances your life. It is a petri dish for compare and despair. If someone needs to get in touch with you, they will find you. I am not saying delete your profile. Just relegate usage to a computer and not your smartphone. Trust me – your level of satisfaction will go up tenfold if you are grateful for what you have, look for what is right, and spend your energy in service. The choice is always yours, and with the choice comes responsibility.