Thinking of Others


Instead of thinking
Of everyone,
Just love everyone.

– Sri Chinmoy (1)

I was reading some aphorisms in a book when I came across this short poem, and it hit me like a proverbial metaphysical sledgehammer (whatever that might be) over the head. It made me realise how I waste too much time thinking of others.

We all have a tendency to think of others a lot. We sometimes remember their good qualities and how they helped us. But, unfortunately, we tend to think about how others have aggrieved us or let us down or how they are far from perfect. When we think of others, we can’t help judging them. When we are judging people we are not loving them. Love is not love when we spend all the time ruminating over their imperfections. As the immortal bard said with poetic brilliance.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

– William Shakespeare Sonnet 116

Avoiding Speculation

One of the most dangerous characteristics of our mind / thought process is to engage in speculation over potential outcomes. Our mind can come up with fantastic speculations, often fearing the worst outcome / worst motive of others. When we let the mind run riot, our thinking can gradually become divorced from reality; we can start assigning motives and false ideas about friends and families. This can be the cause for deep misunderstanding. (See: How to avoid misunderstanding) This is a good reason to spend less time thinking / speculating.

How To Love Others

What does it mean to love others? Perhaps it is hard to say, if the poets struggle, how can we write about love adequately? But, I think we can more easily say what real love is not. If our love is conditional, if we expect certain things to be reciprocated, this is just emotional attachment (See: difference between love and emotional dependence). Love is not judging the person with our critical mind. It is not about getting angry with someone because they are falling below our expected standards. We could say love is an instinctive emotion / quality; it is only that love often gets clouded with the darkness of our mind and thoughts. If we can avoid clouding our opinions with negativity, then naturally we will be offering our good will to others.

It is said that we hate whom we really wish to love. Hate is just blocking the natural flowing nature of love. If we remove barriers such as hate, then we can love others spontaneously and unconditionally.

Practical Steps To Take

Don’t Brood. When we brood, we inevitably spend our time thinking, (rarely positive) thoughts. Rather than brood, it is much more worthwhile to move forward, to do something positive. If we spend time with other people in a positive activity, we haven’t got time to brood over our inner thoughts – nursing minor grievances and feelings of being hard done to.

Don’t Think anything you wouldn’t say aloud. This is a bit of a challenge. Analyse your thoughts that come through your mind; would you be embarrassed to speak them out aloud in front of other people? We shouldn’t feel thoughts are not important because only we can hear them. They are important – they determine our mood, they affect the energy we offer to other people. We can choose whether to send good will or send our judgemental thoughts. There is a big difference between the two.

To some extent our thoughts will create outer circumstances. If we are constantly thinking negative thoughts about other people, it will inevitable create outer difficulties in our relationship with other people.

Thinking of Others Before Ourselves

One thing we often are told to do is to think of others before ourselves. What this implies is that we consider their needs / welfare; how can we help / serve others. This encourages us to be self-giving and selfless. It encourages us to offer good will to others. It doesn’t mean we just sit thinking of them. This is a practical implementation of love. When we put others before ourself, we are expanding our sense of self and becoming less selfish.

Further Reading

Photo: Suswara, Sri Chinmoy Centre Galleries. (Monks Cave, Kirkstone Pass, Lake District)

1) Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees vol 31 by Sri Chinmoy

4 thoughts on “Thinking of Others”

  1. I am inspired so much by “Practical Steps To Take” this serves as my weapon in facing reality. As a person who has a very low self esteem to read your inspirational message is enough to be on fire again. Keep on going.

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