Always Predicting Disaster
Look at the photo. Are these bad kids? Are they saying mean things? Are you sure?
Have you ever walked past a group of teenagers in a shopping center or congregated on the street? Many of us finding ourselves tensing your muscles expecting loud, obnoxious attention getting behavior. Many times that proves to be correct. However, other times our expectations are completely wrong.
This past Sunday, February 27 2011 the New York Times printed a short article entitled, "Lives: Nice Girls." It can be found on the last page of the Magazine section. Its written by John Moe, a radio host on NPR(National Public Radio).
Mr. Moe has a daughter in second grade who suffers from dwarfism. On one parent visiting day at the school, he saw older girls laughing and whispering. He was certain they were mocking his daughter for her smallness. Since her birth, he's worried that youngsters would behave in destructive ways towards his daughter that could harm her emotional well being.
Conditioned to fully expect this type of behavior from children, he saw a group of young teenage girls on the bus he happened to be riding. They were sitting behind him. He braced himself in expectation of hearing them gossip and mock other youngsters from school ho were different from them. After all, this kind of thing all of us read about in the newspapers: children who bully and malign others on Facebook and behind their backs at school.
To his amazement, he heard them talking about others in the most positive ways possible. One girls discussed racial prejudice and how she is continuing working on prohibiting herself from having such thoughts. They continued to discuss how they felt awkward when they were in middle school and how they sympathize with younger kids who are going through the same thing.
These young women proved themselves to be sensitive, filled with insight into themselves and others, and very compassionate. Moe felt ashamed of himself for listening in but was also very glad he did so.
Obviously, there are many messages in this for all of us, not the least of which is to not prejudge people and life circumstances.
All of us seem to find it too easy to focus on the negative aspects of life while over looking all that is positive. What better way to get depressed.
Mindfulness living which has to do with living in the moment and focusing on the positive and not just the negative, is an excellent way to improve our lives.
I urge all of you to read the articles by our own Clinical Psychologist, Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., who writes about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.
Your comments and thoughts are encouraged.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD