November Virtue – Understanding

cora and katie 561Virtue of the month for November 2014: Understanding

With Remembrance Day not far away, let’s make time to contemplate the virtue of Understanding.  What would the world be like if we were all able to understand each other?   A better place, of course.

Understanding begins at home.  It’s a beautiful virtue to cultivate.  It aligns our thinking and our feeling.  It unites our hearts and minds.  Understanding is not something we wish for, but something we practice actively, with purpose and intention.

The more we try to understand the more open we are to possibility.  We don’t jump to conclusions.  Our observations are more astute, and we are more likely to see the whole picture.  As a result, we have greater insights and wonderful ideas.  People around us feel noticed and heard.

Kahlil Gibran said “The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you.  Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather what he does not say.”  Understanding requires us to go beyond the surface of what we see and hear and to seek a deeper meaning.

Understanding requires work.  It’s not quick and easy.  It often involves the pursuit of conflicting perspectives.  It requires us to look for missing pieces and to challenge ourselves.  Dale Carnegie wrote that “…any fool can criticise, condemn, complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding”.

When differences and conflict arises, understanding helps us show compassion.   We are more able to forgive the mistakes of others, and those we make ourselves.  It means that we can use empathy and put ourselves in the shoes of the other person.  We understand them and we are also more understanding of ourselves.

Let’s help our children engage their reflective minds and use their compassionate hearts.   Let’s help them to look, listen, think… and elevate their minds to a place where understanding is possible.

Some quotes to ponder at the dinner table…

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  (Carl Jung)

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”  (Albert Einstein)

Ask your children what understanding would look like if…

Your brother is getting more attention than you?

Your mother has been really irritable all week?

You are not invited to a birthday party?

Your teacher has changed the day for you to do your presentation?

Tessa Lloyd, Junior School Counsellor


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