Therefore the good person
is the teacher of the bad person
The bad person is the resource of the good person
Those who do not value their teachers
And do not love their resources
Although intelligent, they are greatly confused
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching Chapter 27
“I have learned silence from the talkative; tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.”
- Kahlil Gibran
I realized recently that I am really adept at learning what NOT to do by watching others, probably more so than what TO do. My brother has always been my prime example of this type of learning. He showed me behaviors that were destructive and apathetic when he was in high school. I saw the results he garnered from such behavior and said to myself, "There's a better way." I feel blessed that he was there to teach me without having to go through the hard lessons myself. We are now polar opposite people, yet my gratitude for him remains. He frustrates me to no end, mind you, but I love the dirtbag even if he's stubborn and doesn't take my advice ever, lol.
A few years back, I was able to look at the frustrating behavior of another family member and see it in myself. I hated the way I felt when she treated me a certain way and was horrified to think that I was frequently making people feel that same way. What a revelation! This was the beginning of a complete personality transformation for me, one that is an ongoing process because old habits die hard, you know. I realized that making other people feel bad was a poor way to make them want to meet my already high expectations. So I not only tried to stop the potentially hurtful behavior, but I also examined those expectations (which I had of myself as well) and lower them to a much more reasonable level which was easily attainable by others. And Voila! I am so much happier for it.
The point of this trip down memory lane was to illustrate the power I see in these words of showing gratitude to those who not only taught us how to be a good person, but also to show gratitude to those who showed us how to not be a bad person.