If trees fall evenly in the forest but we only hear the trees that fall on one side of it, we’ll put more effort and resources into fortifying that side. We’d have to take a walk through the whole thing to see that trees have fallen everywhere.
Applying the metaphor to relationships: if you only hear concerns about discomfort and unfairness voiced by yourself you may miss the flip side of these struggles that your partner is enduring silently.
In other words, just because someone isn’t complaining it doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to complain about.
If a relationship — any kind of relationship — is going to be successful, we have to use our ears and eyes to listen and observe, rather than talk and project.
Naturally, it’s easier to listen to and observe another person when they are right in front of you. It’s harder to appreciate the humanity and nuance of another person through the lens of the Internet, which is all some of us have these days with the stay-at-home orders. However, this makes it all the more important to take a step back when we engage with others and ask, “How would I want to be treated if I was on the other side of this interaction? Would I treat a family member or a friend this way?”
Take a look at any individual walking down the street and you wouldn’t be able to say with any certainty what experiences they’ve gone through or the privileges they have had or not had. If anything, you might be able to make assumptions about how they have reacted to their experiences or what their current priorities are. You’d really have to have a conversation with them to find out.
Complaints and judgments are replacing conversations these days. I don’t know about you but most of the complaints that I hear and read about are based on superficial comparisons with other people. I think it comes from the same place that jealousy comes from because jealously largely seems to be about dissatisfaction with one’s own achievements and creations.
It makes me wonder what this scarcity mindset is doing for the people engaging in it… have you seen complaining or jealousy lead to a happier and more meaningful life? I haven’t.
“The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood,” said Voltaire…