be gentle with others

As we march further along in our journey of personal development and learning and acting according to philosophy, we get more driven to become a better and more well-rounded person. We start shedding our limiting beliefs, overcome our weaknesses and constantly work towards building a better future for ourselves. 

However, the further we progress, the more we start to realize the shortcomings, reckless behaviors and bad habits of the people who surround us. 

Well, the straightforward truth is that when we pursue personal growth and self-development and stick to it, we become the oddball, we become the exception. And we start resisting the previous actions and behaviors that didn’t serve us. This becomes extremely hard when the people around us are leading the same lives that they have always lived. This difference in opinions, if not checked, can easily lead to arguments and ugly fights. 

For example, consider that you have committed to eating a healthy plant-based diet, but when everyone is eating greasy food including beef, steak and bacon, they undermine your commitment, and soon there are conflicting agendas and debates on the table. Or maybe you have been working towards becoming a member of ‘The 5 AM Club’ and you want to leave a party early in the night so that you don’t fall off the wagon. But your friends insist you on staying late and later going out with them. You have to find a way to not only eject yourself, but also try your best not to be a party pooper. 

As you stick to a life of self-control and moderation, you have to make sure that you don’t impose your rules on other people. You have to be firm with your disciplines, but at the same time be careful that you don’t abandon others and estrange them. After all, you were the same not too long ago. So keep yourself grounded, practice calmness and accept other people with equanimity. 

As Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations, “As you move forward in the logos, people will stand in your way. They can’t keep you from doing what’s healthy; don’t let them stop you from putting up with them either. Take care on both counts. Not just sound judgments, solid actions—tolerance as well, for those who try to obstruct us or give us trouble in other ways. Because anger, too, is weakness, as much as breaking down and giving up the struggle. Both are deserters: the man who breaks and runs, and the one who lets himself be alienated from his fellow humans.” In other words, be gentle with others and strict with yourself.