Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Learn by example

Another blog I follow recently put two quotes together that were especially meaningful to me recently, so I thought I would share. They come from two completely different cultures, but carry the same amazing insight.

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.


  1. How very true. From those who model behavior for us, we can learn what and what not to do. I have heard people say that they came from families in which the parenting skills were lacking, and their wish was to not repeat the bad behavior of their parents as they raised their own children.

  2. There is something to be said for trying to model yourself after a positive role model, but it's seems somehow easier and much more memorable to learn from a mistake. (Why do the negatives seem to linger?)
    I always find myself very worried and dwelling after seeing someone acting in a way that bothers me, wondering if I do the same thing not realizing it.

    But you do have the great (and sadly rare) ability to look at yourself honestly and never stop working at being an awesome person. :D

    And I love the Gibran quote.
    I should start thanking those 'special' teachers.

  3. I am probably the example other family members hold up to the younger generations as an example of what not to do.

  4. I've been reading through your posts. Love your wild west trip and all your insightful posts on diet, learning what not to do, etc.

    Hope you don't mind, if I share a couple of your quotes with friends.

    bohemian :)