Daily Touch of Inspirations

October 15th: Give people the benefit of the doubt

Ryan Holiday, The 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

Everything turns on your assumptions about it, and that's on you. You can pluck out the hasty judgment at will, and like steering a ship around the point, you will find calm seas, fair weather and a safe port.— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 12.22

"Even a dog," Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked." Yet if you've ever accidentally stepped on your dog, you know that the first reaction is usually a bark or a yelp or a quick snap of the jaws. In the instant, there is no distinction — just pain. Then it sees who it was, hears your soothing voice, and goes right back to wagging its tail.

A virtuous person does not jump to hasty judgments about other people. A virtuous person is generous with assumptions: that something was an accident, that someone didn't know, that it won't happen again. This makes life easier to bear and makes us more tolerant. Meanwhile, assuming malice — the most hasty of judgments — makes everything harder to bear.

Be deliberate and accommodating with your assumptions about other people and you'll find, as Marcus says, calmer seas and fairer weather.

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom Perseverance and Art of Living

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