The Life-Giving Practice of Assuming Positive Intent

Assuming negative intent. It's a pandemic. People from every social class, race and religion are so quick to get their feathers ruffled at the slightest disagreement. Some injustices are worth your righteous anger. Others, however, aren't worth your attention and any lashing response can only be described as childish.

Like assuming that critique of your work was meant to destroy your spirit. Or assuming that if you're coffee taste too bitter, your barista did it on purpose. Or assuming that the guy who cut you off in traffic truly wanted to spite you.

Assuming positive (or at least neutral) intent doesn't read into unfortunate situations more than they should be read in to. Because more often than not, the positive intent is the correct intent. Your colleague was probably trying to help you create the best work you can. Your barista probably had six other orders she was juggling in her head at the same time as yours. The guy in traffic was probably late for work.

Despite what those nagging voices in your head are telling you, the general population is not plotting to make your life miserable. More often than not, they're focused on dealing with their own issues and you're unintentional collateral damage.

The worst part is that if you choose to live this way — emotionally unstable and set off by the slightest differing opinion — you're condemning yourself to a depressing and draining lifestyle. Obviously no one vocally chooses to live a depressing and draining lifestyle so you'll rarely notice if you slip into it. You just have to check yourself once in a while and ask yourself, "am I approaching difficult situations assuming positive intent?" If not, you might need an attitude adjustment.

The hopeful side of this coin is that negative/positive intent isn't a genetic or biological trait. It's something that is trained over time. So go ahead and build a new habit. Try to guess the most positive intent that person could have had when they [fill in the blank]. By doing so, you'll be impenetrable! Choose to live free of the resentful irritations of negative intent and embrace positivity.