This issue comes from two readers. Two stories of transformation:
Reader 1. I have had a lifelong tendency to have a negative outlook. My negative outlook has made me unhappy and short tempered. Lately I’ve been following your advice to leave every situation better than I found it. It has been a huge challenge. Since you mentioned driving, that’s where I decided to start. I soon realized that nearly every driver on the road irritated me, and that I was crabby and self-righteous while driving. I have to think hard about how to leave every driving situation better than I found it. I have moved on to other situations, too.
Here’s what I discovered: when I focus on leaving a situation better than I found it, I forget about myself. I forget that I am negative; I forget that I am depressed or crabby or angry. When I focus on leaving a situation better than I found it, I end up leaving me better than I was! Truly, I am being transformed!
Reader 2. Do you remember that once years ago you told me to practice becoming a mensch? I laughed it off. Frankly, I thought you were nuts. But lately I’ve been practicing three things I learned from you — one thing that you taught me privately, and two things that you’ve taught in Tenacity Notes. One: You have said to me, “Become curious about other people.” I don’t really know how to do it, but I’ve been trying. Two: I’ve been practicing “don’t treat anyone else in a way you wouldn’t want to be treated.” Three: I’ve been practicing leaving situations better than I found them.
None of this is easy. I don’t always like it. I am sometimes mad at you for pushing me to be wiser. But guess what? I’m becoming a mensch!