Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Good Mirror, Bad Mirror

Be the change you want to see in the world.
-Mahatma Ghandi (1945), Indian Philosopher

Although Ghandi probably had grand social change in mind, his idea is especially helpful in more intimate relationships. Humans mirror each other all the time. Each interaction with a loved one is affected by both parties. Parents affect their children and children's responses affect their parents. The more powerful person in the relationship usually sets the mood. But the ability to block default mirroring patterns, at will, is crutial to one's happiness regardless of her place on the totem pole. A strong parent will sometimes have to ignore the overwhelming negativity his child projects. Healthy humans do this for each other; when we want to see our best friend happy, we act happy and grateful and have a great story to tell. We lift someone else's mood by picking the mood we want for the situation and acting on it. This really works!

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