Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

In the last installment of Creating Personal Change, we talked about figuring out what we REALLY want.

As you continue on your quest to create personal change in your life, the next step is to start removing negative influences from your mind.

One of the biggest “negativity magnets” most people have seems to be a part of human nature–judging other people.

The habit of judging others can be so toxic to our own well-being. While it’s very difficult to completely quell the notion to judge the world around us, making concerted efforts to minimize it can significantly improve our ability to move past negativity and live in a more positive state.

For example, traffic has been a constant source of stress for me over the years. A couple of months ago, I started trying to change the way I think about other drivers.

Instead of exclaiming loudly to myself (and any other unfortunate passengers in my car) about the inability of the state to properly test drivers, the lack of concern (of other drivers) for their own lives–let alone mine, and other less kind things, I changed my mind.

It occurred to me that I didn’t know that person’s circumstances. Perhaps something horrible had just happened in their lives and they were just distracted. Maybe they weren’t feeling well, or honestly didn’t see me before jerking over into my lane going thirty miles an hour below the speed limit…

But I digress.

The point I’m making is this: after a week or so of changing my mind, avoiding traffic judgment, and trying to empathize with others instead of focusing on what they were doing wrong–I felt much less stressed about traffic in general–and it actually spilled over into the rest of my day.

So, I ask you all to try this experiment. If traffic isn’t an issue for you, you can do this with the subway, people at work, or any other place or event which causes you stress. For one week, don’t judge. Instead, try to focus on the positive.

In case you need a little extra help making this change, I found this great article that offers a simple method to avoid being judgmental.

Don’t beat yourself up if you find this task difficult. Like I said, it’s human nature to judge others. Just notice it each time you do it, and literally change your mind. If you’re cut off in traffic, for example, take a deep breath and smile. Be grateful for your own great driving skills, and leave it at that.

The bottom line is that we do not know what people around us are going through, and we do not have the right to judge them. If we avoid or belittle people who are different than we, by choice or by design, we might as well put ourselves into a tiny box full of other people just like us.

In my opinion, part of what makes this world such a beautiful place is that whole “snowflake” effect humanity has going on–no two are alike. Variety is the spice of life, and all that. What do you think?

I’ll leave you with an old Native American proverb: Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.

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