Tuesday 16 June 2015

We all do the best we can

"She is so lazy."

"He is so unreliable."

"Why can't she ever follow through?"

"Why do I always have to organize everything?"

"Why are people so [insensitive/nosy/uncaring/selfish] *insert adjective of your choice* ?"

Do any of these statements sound familiar? How many times have you thought and/or said one of them? In my case, it has been many times. Too many to count - too many, period.

The other day I was grumbling to my husband about someone who hadn't done something. Trivial stuff.

He said the following to me that was so unexpected and profound, I have been thinking about it ever since. 
He said:
"Remember one thing: Everybody does the best they can."

Wowzer! I was silenced. I had honestly never looked at it that way. Was it true? Do we really do the best we can?

In trying to figure out if he is right I have been thinking about my own life: my job, relationship, friendships, housework, fitness, and all the other countless aspects that make up a life. While I'm sure there are lots of ways to do things better, Richard has a point: Would I know them, I undoubtedly would do them.

There is a fine line between being too hard on yourself and not being hard enough. Always berating yourself for not being better, quicker, thinner, faster, richer, further along in your career is toxic - but shouldn't we also strive to become better versions of ourselves?
While there are aspects in my life where I feel confident that I am doing the best I can, there are also some where I could improve. Or at least I think I should. So why don't I?

Because, while I think I should do more, at the same time I am doing everything I am capable of. Which brings us back to Richard's statement: I am doing the best I can.
There are lots of people who are better than me at lots of things: There are better daughters out there. Better friends. People with more patience, better listening skills, more wisdom.

While we can't change the fact that we are flawed human beings who will make mistakes, say things we might regret and laugh at the wrong moment, there is one thing we can do:
We can do our best to be better today than we were yesterday. 

I can pick up the phone and call my parents more often.
I can make more of an effort to see the people that are important to me regularly.
I can offer my support and help.
I can put my phone away when someone talks to me and give them my undivided attention.
I can stop myself from laughing at the wrong moment ... no, who am I kidding, I will never be able to do that.

While I won't always succeed in these endeavours, I will give it my best shot - after all, that's all any of us can do.

Do you agree with this statement? Or do you think some people could do or be a lot more?



  1. This is so great. We can all do better, but it's nice to keep it in perspective. Empathy is so important!

  2. i was always one to judge immediately, until someone said the same thing to me. people are doing the best they can + you don't always know the situation they are in. they might have a really bad day or there might be something else going on in their lives that's making them act the way they do. so now i try not to judge so much anymore and just be kind. it makes me feel better about myself as well.

  3. I completely agree, I think we should strive to be better specially when we have people rooting for us but also when we don't because at the end of the day, we are the only ones accountable for our life.

  4. I'd have to say I don't agree....I know lots of situations where people do the bare minimum because they know it'll be enough to satisfy whatever needs to be accomplished at that time. We live in a lazy society and its rare to find people who do the maximum they can allll the time.....but then again I am a total skeptic and a pretty negative person so who really knows, maybe it's just my shaded outlook.

  5. I think that in general people THINK they are doing the best they can. And maybe that's our downfall. It becomes easy to make excuses for why I'm not doing the best I possibly can and then it becomes a habit and before I know it, I'm not doing anywhere near my best or even really trying to.
    I like the approach of trying to be better today than I was yesterday. That makes it a lifestyle and more sustainable.

  6. I think there's a definite difference between finding fault with ourselves and finding things to improve. When we are down on ourselves or the things we aren't doing or that we could be doing better, we tend to make ourselves feel bad. Whereas finding things to improve makes us feel better because it promotes positive action.

  7. I agree. The biggest reason for people at my work to complain is that they are convinced they work harder than their coworkers. It's a never-ending issue that never resolves itself, because the people they complain about won't change - probably because they think they are doing a good job.
    We have a choice: We can either complain till the end of our days, or simply accept the fact that this is how they are. Maybe they can't do better? If they could, they probably would. Like you said, empathy is important, not only for the people around us, but for our own happiness.

  8. Yes! You are so right: empathy is so important, and will make us feel so much better not only about other people, but about ourselves as well.
    We get caught in these endless cycles of complaining about the same things and the same people, which doesn't help anyone. It just makes you unhappy and resentful. Changing our own attitude can make a huge positive impact in our lives!

  9. I think there is a big difference between trying to better ourselves and never being satisfied with what we have. The first one is constructive, giving our life purpose and a goal to work towards, which is an integral part of satisfaction. The second one is destructive, making us unhappy and resentful.
    I also think that being hard on the people around us won't help anybody - it just makes us and them miserable. Kindness is the surest way to happiness!

  10. I used to see it exactly the same way you do, and was angry about it a lot. I would get worked up so much about the "lazy people" that it would ruin my entire day.
    But here is the thing: The only people who get hurt by this attitude is ourselves. The ones we are mad about probably don't know or care - they happily go about their days, thinking they are doing a good job. We never know what is going on in other people's lives. Does this person have an injury that prevents them from doing certain things? Do they get easily overwhelmed and need mental breaks to be able to get through their day? Maybe they are short with us because they had bad news at home, are worried about something or have to deal with a mental illness nobody knows about. It's easy to judge from the outside, and we tend to expect the same of all people.
    What I have come to see is this: We can't change other people. The only thing we can change is our attitude about them. At the end of the day, I want to be proud of what I have done that day, and be able to look myself in the eye without regrets. Changing my view from "they don't want to" to "they can't do" has really helped me accept the fact that people are all different, and you can't expect the same from everybody.

  11. Oh, I like what you said there: "to make excuses for why I'm not doing the best I possibly can and then it becomes a habit". That's so true! I've heard it said that what you learn during training is what will stick. Once you are doing your job, it is incredibly hard to change your habits - you automatically seem to veer back to what you were initially taught.
    I took my driving lessons 17 years ago, and I still hear the voice of my instructor when I do certain maneuvers like passing a car or doing a left turn.
    One of the most useful lessons I have ever learnt is that you can't change other people. No matter how hard you try, they won't change for you. So all you can do is find a way to deal with it, and work on yourself. This approach makes life so much more enjoyable!

  12. YES! Wise words. The first approach is destructive and won't help us improve our lives, whereas the second approach can make our life better.
    There can never be too much kindness in the world: kindness towards others, and maybe even more importantly, towards ourselves.

  13. We were actually talking about something similar yesterday at work, people are very quick to judge or find fault but really we should take time to notice that most of us are doing the best we can. Yes I am guilty of not spending as much time with certain friends as I should, not giving as much back to my family as I should and not getting off my butt to excerise when I should. But in the main I do the best I can, and I get that I should make that allowance for my friends and family too.

  14. Yes, exactly! It's easy to point out other people's flaws, or be too hard on ourselves. Being kind, understanding and accepting can seem more difficult, but it will make our world a happier and more peaceful place!


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