I was out shopping the other day, when I noticed something interesting. Every person who passed by me in the store made an impression on me. For each and every stranger that walked by, my mind would instantly pick out a unique feature about him or her. It happened in the split second that it took for us to cross paths, almost without any conscious effort on my part.
I wish I could say that only kind and generous thoughts popped into my brain about each person, but that was not always the case. Although i often noticed if someone had a nice smile or beautiful eyes, I also found myself noticing flaws and picking out imperfections. I didn't really mean to do it, it just kind of happened. If a person had a big belly or unruly hair, it jumped out at me, and I tended to focus in on those areas instead of the many beautiful things about them.
As I thought about why I might be doing this, it occured to me that the flaws I was zooming in on in others were the very same parts of myself that I didn't feel great about or that caused me to feel self-conscious. Every person I looked at was mirroring back to me how I felt about myself.
For the rest of the day, I made a conscious effort to think of a compliment that I would give to each stranger I encountered. I was not at all surprised to find that at the end of the day, I felt much better about myself, my mood was lighter, and i felt happier.
When we find fault, tear down, or notice flaws in others, we are reflecting our own flaws. We are finding fault with and tearing down ourselves. Likewise, when we see others as beautiful, kind, funny, or articulate, we are seeing a mirror image of what we love and find beautiful in ourselves.
It's human nature to make snap judgements, but I think, with a little practice, we can all be more generous with ourselves and those around us. When we make that effort, everyone and everything in life becomes infinitely more beautiful.