Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Free your mind ... and the rest will follow

Have you ever noticed how it's much easier to criticize than to commend? Well, just because it's easier doesn't make it right. 

Criticism has risen to power as a predominant character trait in our society today. It's cool to be critical of things, people, places; everybody does it. We live and breathe it. Society is spewing its criticism out on us all the time, and we are absorbing it, conforming to it, and, in turn, spewing it out on others. It's disgusting. 

Magazines criticize us for being too fat or too thin. Paparazzi stalk celebrities so we can criticize their look, their families, their diets. We live under an ever-expanding microscope where, pretty soon, we're all going to finally realize that *gasp* no one's perfect

With the advent of social networking, it's become even worse. We are now criticizing our own friends for what they choose to post as their Facebook status. "Can you believe so-and-so said ____? That's so lame!" People are criticizing other people they have never even met face to face, all in the name of what? 

When did we all become so critical? A better question is: when did we all become so perfect that we didn't have any self-analyzing and self-betterment to do so we decided to turn to others and "help" them? Everyone's a critic. 

Criticism is a nasty habit. By definition, it's "to find fault; judge unfavorably or harshly." Ouch. Why do we want to do this to other people? Does it make us feel better about ourselves? Do we honestly think we're doing someone a favor by criticizing them? In this warped day and age, do we even realize when we are being critical or do we think we're just stating facts?

What do you think the world would look like if we replaced every criticism with a commendation? Do me a favor. Don't just read that question and think to yourself, "Yeah, that would be great." Really think about it. Really. 

Start with yourself first. Think about how you would feel or who you would be if the critiques that are constantly being thrown at you were converted to praise? If you were never told you weren't good enough, but were actually told that you are valuable and one of a kind. If you could exchange the negative for the positive, your self-esteem would skyrocket. 

Now, broaden it to the world around you. I think the world would be a beautiful place if we practiced praise regularly instead of judgment. Call me a dreamer if you will. I bet there'd be less stress, strife, disease, crime, disillusionment, and contempt. If we weren't all being judged so harshly, we'd be free to be who we really are. We would live with the bumps on our noses, stretch marks on our bellies, and those not-so-perfect teeth. And guess what? We would actually live. Let me tell you: nobody's ever been denied entrance into heaven because they have cellulite. Likewise, no one will be granted entrance for having a flawless body. 

Criticism does nothing but tear people down. Praise builds people up. I don't think many people would cheer themselves on for demolishing another person's house, but I do think many people demolish other people's spirits without even blinking an eye. 

I'm reminded of this quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Plato got it, and he was from 400 BC, for goodness' sake. Why haven't we gotten with the program yet?

Why blog about this? What's the purpose? I mean, do I really think I'm going to rid the world of all its injustice with one little blog post that, say, maybe 10 people will read? No, I'm not that delusional. 

I'm blogging about this in hopes of helping myself and others realize when our criticism is in overdrive. We're all guilty of it, but that doesn't mean we can't change it. We can, starting right now, choose to keep the criticism at bay and let the praises ring. We can look past what society says is "right" and make up our own minds. We can extend a word of love, forgiveness, or sympathy in hopes of shining a light in this dark and dreary world. 

I could really use some of that. Couldn't you? 

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