If there is one thing I’ve learned from these past months, it is how to handle criticism and a little bit on stress. I acquired practical lessons from practical people. We may have read similar teachings in some books but sometimes books can be too technical and very academic, making little impact in our lives. These lessons are actual experiences of people I was fortunate to meet.
One is someone who never directly lectured me on his coping mechanisms but I was able to observe his routine every time he is stressed. He usually goes out from his office and hangout in his favorite coffee shop and talks with other people and sometimes me. It is his practice and I suppose his unwritten policy is that there will be no office related discussion. He just wanted to have a good time and talk about something else.
The other one is a positive person. He thinks positive, speaks positive and acts positive. During the time I was fellowshipping with this individual, he was all positive. It was only recently that I realized that I never heard any negative word from his mouth. I know he faces difficult problems left and right and in front of him but he always smiles and talks about good things, things that build up, things that inspire and encourage. Boy, this guy is different from a normal guy like me.
It is indeed surprising that he never uttered any derogatory word against other people. If I attempt to coax him to comment on some unpleasant observations, he will always go back to talk about his plans, the grand things that a co-op can accomplish and become an influential institution. All the bad reports he hears from people about him makes him stronger, he said with an infectious laugh. According to him, these criticisms motivates him to do more. I guess the often quoted adage coined by the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, saying, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, is true.
He acts in such a way that you feel comfortable with him. He makes you feel like you have been friends for a long time even if you have just meet him a few moments ago. The way I described him to you, he seemed to be a perfect guy. But he has some flaws. He talks about himself more often. He brags about his achievements. But give it to the guy, he has something to brag about. His accomplishments are irrefutable and the records are open for everyone who wants to verify.
I am really amazed that he was never bothered by his critics. (On the contrary, a lot of people do, including myself). They don’t stress me, he said. He could be lying but he really never talked about them. He even urged them to keep on talking about him and against him. “If I’m being talked about, it makes me more popular” he added with another dose of his infectious laugh. This made me remember another sage who said that, “to avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing”.
In other words, it is normal to be criticized. Whatever you do, good or bad, people will always have something negative to say says W.H. Auden. You really cannot please everybody. However, be not bothered by someone’s criticism as long as you believe that you are doing the right thing. And this is the secret of having a good sleep and a positive mental attitude.