Christine Holmberg, LMFT
Imagine you are buying some groceries and the cashier is in a grumpy mood. He did not acknowledge your hello and instead he mumbled something under his breath. What is your initial reaction? Do you take offense and complain about him to your friend, as you leave the store, or do you consider that maybe he is having a really bad day?
Here is another scenario for you. This time, imagine you meet a stranger and instantly hit it off. You ask for their phone number and then you quickly write it down on a piece of paper. The next day you text this person, but they do not respond. You send another message the following day but still no answer. Naturally, you begin to wonder what happened. Do write them off as a jerk or do you consider the possibility that you wrote their number down wrong.
In social situations like in the examples above, our minds can create all kinds of stories about other people’s actions. We can come up with a whole range of explanations from good to bad. We can assume the worst in others and assign blame or view people as fundamentally good and that they are doing the best they can.
According to researchers, people who view the actions of others in a more positive light tend to be happier. Research shows that people who give others the benefit of the doubt most of the time are happier than those who constantly blame others. It is important to note that you should not blindly trust people, but that the extra effort it takes to question our assumptions about others might be worth it. Seeing the best in others is a habit that takes time to develop just like anything else, but it is a habit that will leave you feeling significantly happier.