I’ve been on a journey to become more peaceful. Because I’m not trained or particularly gifted at any of this, I use terms like Zen in the loosest sense. I’m not sure what Zen is. Maybe I shouldn’t mention it at all.

Okay. I won’t.

Anyhoo, the biggest leap I have had toward peaceful living is learning to better let go of judgment or judgement. I will not judge your spelling. Either way works. I looked it up.

Any anyhoo, judgement is a sneaky habit. It feels good, it’s easy, and now that I’m on the lookout for it, I am continually surprised at how much judgement I see flung about in a careless way. You could notice that I am judging other people’s judging as well as my own. You’re so smart!

There’s a lot of reflex judgement: this key is bad, this translation is great, meat is murder. Much of the misery we feel has to do with deciding that rain on our wedding day is not ironic but terrible. It’s an omen of future misery, everything will be wet forever, life down the drain, drama, drama drain. None of that is real, it’s just a weird, wet judgement. Catching on to your own snap judgements and dropping them can be truly liberating.

If we can quit building elaborate jenga judgement towers about everything, we can have more energy for whatever we really want to do and just let the rain be rain.

So, fine. Whatever, right? It’s been a real ticket to tranquility for me, though. I am not obliged to have judgements about everything, I mean, I can but I don’t have to have an opinion on your favorite cheese, you gouda ghoul. I can just observe your cheese mistakes without considering them mistakes.

The difficulty then becomes judging when to judge. I mean, sometimes you have to judge things and people. Maybe you are an actual judge or you have to decide who to frisk in the airport jail. Maybe you are like me and find that your instincts are super tuned and you have a truckload of judgement backing up most of the day. What to do with it all?

For the time being, I’m considering how necessary my judgments are. The necessary ones are rare. No, that bird isn’t stupid–what’s the need to sort that bird into the stupid pile? Sure, one might decide that d├ęcor is boring, but what’s the point? There’s no need to get deep about shallow things. There is also no need to have big thoughts about big things all the time. Who cares what I think of the sunset or the future of urban planning?

Sometimes judgement is entertaining. We can enjoy making predictions out loud and watching them come to pass. Not many things are more fun than being correct. It would be a lot more hilarious when it turns out I have been bickering with a mob guy if I predicted, “Watch this, he’s going to turn out to be a mob guy.” Nothing is funnier than announcing danger like it doesn’t matter, I bet.

Judging situations may improve your safety, or it may keep you safely unhappy with the situation. I’m not suggesting you bright-side yourself to distraction, maybe just be aware when you approach a dark alley and when you shut off the lights yourself.

Judging people should be uncomfortable. If you are doing it for fun, maybe you could play a different game.

There’s the mnemonic thingy for evaluating your speech, “It is True, Helpful…” some other stuff. This is great if it works, so here’s my mnemonic for judgement:

Is it Dangerous? Is it Necessary? Are you being an Asshole?

It’s okay. It’s in your DNA.

Love,
yermom

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