On the drive to and from Brookhaven Retreat, it is interesting to observe the farm animals in the fields. Today, I watched a tiny, moon-colored calf pluck leaves from the trees with her nimble tongue. Nearby, two mothers rubbed each other’s faces in a very human display of affection.
For some, it can be uncomfortable to watch their dinner display such depth and complexity of emotion, the same way it is challenging to realize that our opponent in an argument feels as right and offended as we do. Being able to recognize the emotions and intelligence of others is an important skill with mental health benefits.
Allowing ourselves to humanize and give credit to others increases positive emotions and generosity, two qualities necessary to maintain recovery. Putting ourselves in the shoes of others enables us to improve those relationships and develop better empathy. Most importantly, it develops flexible thinking skills that not only improves our problem solving ability but also better enables us to reframe emotional turbulence such as depression and anxiety.
Do not be afraid to place yourself in the shoes of others or to agree with ideas contradictory to your own. That very flexibility can be a critical key to happiness.