A perfect book for graduation season, and every other season, is “This is Water” – David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College. After you read it, you’ll probably read it again, buy it for others, and search out everything you can about the author. Yeah, it’s that good.
My take home perspective-shift from “This is Water” is very yogic. Wallace writes:
“It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”
In our day to day interactions, most of us are unwittingly on autopilot. Our mental, physical, and verbal responses to events are often knee-jerk and subconscious, and tend to be slightly negative. When we get cut off in traffic, we can choose to be angry, insulted, and say “What an idiot!” Or we can choose to be open to the possibility that the driver might have been rushing to the hospital for a loved one. Maybe this driver is a good person who deserves our compassion.
Whatever is true of that particular driver in that particular traffic insult doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the way we choose to see the world and how we choose to react. Getting in the habit of thinking in a more compassionate, understanding, and connected way changes our lives for the better. We start to feel more peaceful and loving, which then changes the way we interact with others. This has infinite ripple effects.