Criticism, as everyone knows, can hurt. No-one likes to be criticised. But even so, we tend to be experts at judging what is good or bad in someone else. Often, we will be too well-mannered to say anything and remain silent. Nevertheless, our minds form a judgment. It’s a habit that goes back to childhood. And, as energy follows thought, it’s bad for us and our sense of wellbeing.
Criticism – the antithesis of happiness
Being judgmental, even silently, is the antithesis of happiness. When we are on the receiving end of criticism, the ego is easily bruised. Perhaps we feel a little indignant or defensive. Probably, we have a sense of being deflated. The wind is taken out of our sails. Our self-esteem takes a knock. Most of us have experienced this many times in our lives.
But giving criticism can be just as damaging for ourselves, too. Here’s why.
1. It destroys our inner peace. A peaceful mind doesn’t judge. Those times we feel good occur because our innate wholeness is alive. When we are truly at peace, the mind is whole. There is no division. But when we judge that this is better than that, that this is good and that is bad, we have lost our equanimity.
2. This sets in motion a chain of events. Anyone or anything that supports what we judge to be right generates a positive response in us. Conversely, a negative reaction arises towards those who are against our belief of what is right and good.
3. When we see what we like, it makes us feel better. Our dislikes, on the other hand, make us feel worse. With the former, we are more relaxed and the latter generate tension. Moods and sense of wellness fluctuate. This is normal human behaviour, so we may think there is nothing we can do about it. But the cause isn’t “out there”, it is in the mind. That means we have choice.
Cultivate a mind that is at ease to enliven your wellbeing
A mind that is at ease naturally accepts others and circumstances as they are. That doesn’t mean we are free of responsibility to act, but we can do so without a sense of blame. The world is full of rhetoric about what is right and wrong. It comes from people who think their view is the only correct one. That means they haven’t been really listening to the other. It also means they have closed their minds. When our minds are closed, we are not free. We become our own prisoner. That is no way to be and is an unhappy state.
So relax and be aware. Let the mind be at ease. When criticism raises its head, chop it off. Gradually, life becomes more pleasant. We feel better. Our sense of wellbeing improves and we begin to restore wholeness. We don’t need to fight the world anymore. A measure of peace and joy can live in our hearts. And that’s just what the world needs.
More on easier living in Awakening Heart: The Blissful Path to Self Realisation
Good article by Oliver Burkeman “Is moaning good for you?” in today’s Guardian