The Best in All of Us.
I've been reading this book, "A Gentleman in Moscow". It's grown on me. At first, I was not super interested. The main character -- an aristocrat after the Russian Revolution -- is someone under "house arrest" in a hotel for the rest of his life. Here in this Covid-19 moment, this story line seemed a little too close to home. Wouldn't I prefer to read about someone on a wide, grand adventure?
About a hundred pages from the end, his daughter raises her glass to make a toast. She says, "To...Count Alexander Rostov. A man inclined to see the best in all of us." While I had been enjoying this book more than I thought I would, I wasn't sure exactly why...until this moment. At every turn, this character sees possibility, beauty, welcome challenge and joy in moments large and small, in people delightful and difficult. It's never what he's looking at -- because often what he's looking at isn't much compared to the life he used to live -- It's how he sees! A man who once lived on an vast estate, who traveled freely, who was indulged in every way now lives in a 10 by 12 foot room as a waiter in the hotel restaurant. And never sees anything but the best in others.
What could it be like, to see the best in others as a default setting? To assume that people mean well, that they really are trying, that no one is out to get me? What would it be like see the best in ourselves and assume that things, though difficult, will work out well in the end? What would it be like to be perpetually curious instead of chronically disappointed?
I've heard it said that the grass is greener where you water it. What you expect is often what you find. In coaching, people are often encouraged to think about what we want others to say about us out in the world, or how we might be remembered at the end of our lives. "A (man) inclined to see the best in all of us" sounds pretty good to me. Here's to giving our attention to the shining light in others and the glimmer of goodness in any situation...and to magnifying that light in ourselves for the highest good of everyone around us.