Why would someone do that?
This charming video takes an actual conversation a father had with his two year old, and re-enacts it with an adult man. It is hysterical. It also illustrates our capacity to enter the world of another.
When an adult encounters the mystery and madness of a delightful two year old, taking their perspective is a joyride. But when it is a co-worker or family member who is not making sense to us, it's often a bit of a bumpier ride!
Our minds so often slam shut to others' perspectives. We do it all the time: "Why would someone do that?" We dismiss something someone says or does as, "that's just" (as in she just wants attention). Or we stop trying to understand someone's behavior after one explanation of it, as in "I'm sure I'm right about this."
This lack of perspective taking is at the root of so much suffering in our lives. It severs connection and makes us feel lonely and alienated.
How would it be if we practiced being open to the possibility that we could be even a little bit wrong about our interpretation? How would it be if we asked, with true curiosity: "Why would someone do that?" rather than "Why would someone do that?" Or if we had the courage to ask ourselves, "Am I really are trying to understand her perspective, or have I actually already made up my mind?" Can I pause for a moment to really hear what someone is saying before "Yes butting" them? Ouch!
Learning to take another's perspective is really quite interesting. It's creative, giving us practice expanding our perceptions, we're out of the box. It gives us a Willie Wonka golden ticket to travel into other people's worlds! It's not so scary! It is a quality that leads ultimately to non-judgment, connection, and compassion in our relationships. Which leads to happiness all 'round, yes?
And this skill sure can make holiday family gatherings a little easier, when your deer hunting uncle from Montana sits down to dinner with your vegan niece from California! Have I sold you on this enough? Give it a try and let me know how it goes!