It’s National Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week, a week dedicated to celebrating our differences. According to the National Day Calendar, it was founded by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934 with the aim of encouraging people of all faiths to meet, discuss differences and affirm the brotherhood/sisterhood that crosses religious belief systems.
Because we are a nation founded on the principles of religious freedom (among others), I’m glad to see a week that recognizes our differences — a week that encourages, tolerance, acceptance and understanding among us all.
But, I’m not writing this to ponder the similarities and differences among the many faiths we all observe. I’m writing this to share my support for the concept of tolerance. I like the way learningtogive.org defines it: “recognizing and respecting other’s beliefs and practices without sharing in them…”
Whether it’s over religion or the plethora of people and situations that create it, intolerance breeds stress and negativity. That can really take a toll on your psyche if you allow it to… So, if you’re having a tough time accepting someone or something in your life, take a pause and think about finding some inner peace.
I can’t even pretend to be an expert on developing this ability, so I’ll defer to the Chopra Center. It suggests the following ideas for helping you to build tolerance into your life:
Own your feelings. Remember that when something about someone else bothers you, it is bothering you, others may have no idea. And, better yet, it’s up to you to manage yourself and how you behave.
Look within. Try to see past the person and the situation that’s bothering you. Examine it to identify what, within you, may be the source of the friction.
Check your ego. Sometimes inner tension is caused by your ego. Recognize this for what it is, and strive to rise above.
Meditate. By calming and centering yourself and your spirit, you can give yourself perspective on situations and people who trigger stress for you. Routinely check in with yourself during these experiences.
Recognize that change is inevitable. Remember, that no matter how stressful or troubling a situation or person may be, the experience is only temporary.
Use your power. Don’t allow your raw, emotional reactions to dictate you or your behavior. Remember, you have the power to control how much someone or something affects you. Use it to govern yourself, feel your frustration and move past it.
Keep perspective. Remember that you likely frustrate other people too. Remember those who have been kind and patient with you during your rough patches… or when you were likely the source of stress for others.
Practice patience. Patience with the disagreeable aspects of people and life can help you become more tolerant. Think about this: The universe allows room for all of your decisions and behavior while working around and through them. Seek to mimic this tolerance in your own life.
I don’t have all the answers. But, I do know what I believe: I believe in love. I love God, and I love people — whether they call Him God, Buddha, Allah, Krishna, The Great Spirit or something else. And, I believe life is too short to spend our energy fighting about our differences when we can be learning from each other… I would rather spend my time and energy on love.