Judge Less, Accept More, and Restore Your Happiness

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” ~Sri Chinmoy

A few years back, the husband of an acquaintance spoke curtly—dare I sound judgmental and say rudely—to his mother-in-law in front of me, his wife, his daughter, and a few others.

Each time I thought about what he said, a wave of judgmental thoughts came into my mind: How could he speak to her like that? How could he be so disrespectful? And, what a poor example he was setting for his daughter…

These negative thoughts stayed with me for a few days until I asked myself: “Have I ever spoken curtly or rudely to someone?”

The answer was, of course, “Yes.” And, although I didn’t want to make excuses, I asked myself if someone had been watching me at that moment, if there were a reason that would make that person understand where I was coming from or what I was going through. The answer was, “Usually, yes.”

As soon as I turned my attention away from him and looked at myself, all of the negative thoughts I was having about him faded away. Instantly, I felt so much better.

Beyond that, it provided a good opportunity for me to start looking at myself, why I judged others, and how I could stop it.

My meditation teacher, Giziben, has said, “Judge, but don’t condemn. If you hear that someone has done something terrible, judge that you will not do that. But don’t condemn the other, as that ignites the desire for revenge and kills the love within.”

The reasons why we judge are fairly easy to identify. Often we judge others when we’re jealous of them in some way, because they have something, like a position, status, or role, which we don’t.

We also judge when our desires or expectations aren’t met and then we think, “How could they do that?” It can also just become a habit to complain and find fault.

But what is the root cause of judging? It is our ego.

First, the ego compares the self with others, often putting others down to temporarily boost up the self. Then it starts to compete, trying to prove that it is better. “I would have never have done that…”

Then, it isn’t long until the criticism comes, which quickly leads to condemnation. “Isn’t he awful…”

Once we’ve reached this state, there’s no peace left in our mind and no love left in our heart—and therefore, no happiness.

So, what’s the antidote to judging? Acceptance.

My teacher often says, “The ego can’t bear acceptance. It lives on resisting.”

When I realize that I’ve slipped into judging, to get out of it, I focus on accepting the person or the situation. (This doesn’t mean that you have to agree; you just have to accept what is!)

Sometimes to accept someone it helps to remember that they’re doing the best that they can at that moment.

What we don’t accept is that we want them to do something else, but actually, what we want is beyond their capacity.

My teacher has said that this is “like going to an apple merchant and asking for oranges. And then we get upset when we get apples. But they didn’t have any oranges to give in the first place. So whose mistake was it for misjudging the other’s capacity?”

To move into acceptance, it also helps to remember that we cannot possibly know the whole story.

Whether it’s between two friends or colleagues, a husband and wife, or two in-laws, we cannot know what has happened between them that brought them to that moment that we might witness. So, to judge one moment in time, without regard for the past or what is to come in the future, lacks wisdom.

If you ask anyone, no one will say that they like to be judged. Everyone wants to free from being judged, but very few are free from judging.

We want to be accepted unconditionally, but we rarely accept others unconditionally.

The question is, why? Maybe because we don’t accept ourselves and are constantly judging ourselves that we do the same to others. It’s a form of entertainment to keep from doing the work we need to do on ourselves.

But if we truly don’t like being judged, then we would stop judging others, because intuitively we know that what we put out comes back to us.

Judge others and you will be judged. Accept others and you will be accepted. (Maybe not immediately, but in time!)

When my mind is caught in the spin of judging what someone else has said or done, I don’t like how it feels. I don’t like that someone else is occupying my thoughts and that it brings negative feelings that extinguishes the love within. When this happens, I know I am not in a place where I want to be.

The good news is that I have found that a way out of this place.

When we shift our thoughts from judging to accepting, not only others, but also ourselves, we can restore our happiness.

Photo by snapper san

About Patricia Tashiro

Patricia Tashiro wrote An Angel Whispered, an inspiring book on happiness, while studying with Giziben, a gifted spiritual teacher who's practiced Raja Yoga Meditation for over 20 years. Patricia believes peace, love & happiness will only come in the world when we find it within. (Facebook: An Angel Whispered)

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  • june bug

    this is something that you know deep in your heart, but you need reminders once in a while to stop judging yourself and others and be with what is!!! LOVE IT 🙂 

  • Anita

    Love the apples and oranges comparison.  Why do I go looking for love from some one who has no love to give? Whose mistake is that? 
    Part of me, a big part, is very hurt that they don’t have love for me, but another part also knows the love they could give me would come with conditions that I have no interest in meeting.  This is a family member so I can’t wish them well and remove myself from their circle.  I’m looking for a way to hold on to peace when I need to be in their company without feeling the hurt all over again.

  • neo

    Very Nice Article !! Keep it up !!

  • Jennie

    My favorite blog post by far! This is something I’ve been struggling with and am finally getting to the point of letting go of judging others. Its been a long difficult road for me, but I have committed myself to working through it and coming out a better person.  Judging others because we judge ourselves is a big one for me, along with having high expectations of people in my life and constantly feeling disappointed and angry with friends & family’s choices which lead me to passing judgment. I’ve only recently “gotten” that judging leads to unhappiness. I’ve been in denial for a long time and this blog post really hit home for me.

  • Very well written post! This is such an important issue, because it really gets to the root of a lot of peoples’ unhappiness. It’s also not an entirely “intuitive” concept. I know I wouldn’t immediately think that judging others contributes to my unhappiness, and I assume many others wouldn’t make that connection either.

  • “Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest” love this quote but the implementation isn’t easy for me 🙁

  • “Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest” love this quote but the implementation isn’t easy for me 🙁

  • Doug

    Sorry, but people who do wrong should not be accepted, and they should be judged as doing wrong. People who hold principles and express their disappointment in those who violate their principles can feel proud. Just ignoring conflict in the pursuit of happiness is very selfish indeed.

  • Mnmaryl

    Very inciteful, now to just remember it!

  • Longd0405

    So very true,and I have been attempting to be mindful when I catch myself starting
    to judge others,and just as you said focus on things I have done,in the past and was
    judged by other people who had no insight or idea as to the complete story.
    I also remember how terrible that made me feel,and I would never want to
    inflict that judgement or feeling on another person.I think also people who have been humbled by life experience
    have more compassion and empathy for
    others.They realize that “there but for the grace of God,go I”…..,….,..I try to remember that people are doing their best with what they know.We are all flawed human beings,just trying to be okay.We as a society are too eager to
    judge others

  • Cree-na

    Brilliant. Great timing for me. Thank you!

  • richard

    the only sensible response is LOVE, it will be the solution for You and perhaps for the other also.

  • richard

    sounds like you would rather be right than happy, you will end up being neither, since it is impossible for humans to be right. nothing is perfect in the physical plane.

  • This piece was a great reminder that I really needed.  Thank you for sharing your wisdom here!

  • is it judging to raise the point of injustice?  when others accept work done and there is no acknowledgment or thanks, is this then abuse of some kind?  Neglecting to notice when others do us a good deed is sadly the status quo.  It will always benefit us all when we simply say our Thanks. some have no time, some no talent, but all can acknowledge when work is done for us.

  • Shoua

    Lovely post, I am finding that I judge because it is something that I do not approve of or do not like and I find that that comes from within not somewhere outside. When I find the root cause of some issue due to interaction with another being, I go inside and turn it around and ask myself what kind of limitations have I place on this issue and I remove that limitation so that it no longer affects me. Of course it comes back, but the next time you’re aware of it, and soon it will be gone.

  • Jason Holborn

    As I struggle to cease judgment, I clicked on this at the first glance of the title, and upon finishing reading it, I favorited it, too, for my future reference. How I aim to be free of judgment, how I try to envision myself non-judgmental, how I tell myself that judgment is pointless, futile, sapping, and that my judgment will not define those I judge, but rather define me, as a person who judges! And how I still find myself judging! I do believe that over time, I have at least improved. Onwards and upwards!

  • Jason Holborn

    Thumbz up.

  • Jason Holborn

    Just read this a second time; i may read it daily for a week to serve as a daily reminder and refresher and motivator. Thanks very much for this.

  • Jason Holborn

    This is the part I liked so much:
    I wouldn’t immediately think that judging others contributes to my unhappiness, and I assume many others wouldn’t make that connection either.

  • mike

    Do you love the other person with no conditions? Think about it.

  • Lisa Getch

    Thank you for the great article! This is one of the most eloquent explanations of the idea that people are just doing their best. I think I judge, not only .when our desires or expectations aren’t met and then we think, “How could they do that?” It can also just become a habit to complain and find fault.’ But I think I also judge out of my perfectionist control freak tendencies. Yeah, I’m a recovering control freak. 🙂

    I’ve come SO far in my new mindfulness journey, but this is one of my biggest struggles. I think it’s because those mantras make sense to some extent, except I feel like I’m missing something. Like, so do we always just blow off the behaviour of, for example, my husband repeatedly flirting like monthly? He has admitted to liking women’s attention. Cuz if this idea of just letting everything go is across the board, then does that mean people should never talk about differences or hurts with your spouse or adult children who can speak so contemptuously on a regular basis? I find it really hard to detach and want to still be around them. I’d love someone’s input, because I’m struggling to figure out a balance that makes sense in my mind.. Namaste

  • Zak D.

    Is this what Buddhism is about? Seems like an actually useful religion.

  • Prit

    how can you love when you are judged in your heart, your mind is gone and all you do is what someone else has designed for you?

  • Pedro Simão

    But then how do we change our bad behaviors or the things that we are doing wrong?

  • Jim

    Acceptance sounds great but that would mean I would have to accept what I feel is unacceptable behavior! There I go judging again! Here’s the situation my spouse’s mother is the most negative person I believe on planet earth! When my wife spends time with her she tends to rub off on her and she becomes negative and bitter! Furthermore my wife’s twin sister is the worlds biggest drama queen and is so demanding of my wife’s time I never get to see her?! Her Father every time I make money is constantly hounding my wife and eventually she caves in and gives it to him! He was a dead-beat sperm donor and never played the parenting role and for some reason expects everyone to pay his way!? Both her mom and dad have been divorced 5-7 times apiece nobody seems to know exactly? I start the morning off meditating and studying the Law of attraction, needless to say one or all three of these people seem to interrupt my positive energy by creating some interaction that effects my wife in a negative way! I need help and don’t want these people to enter my mind and thoughts because I believe they are blocking positive manifestations in my life!!! HELP!!!

  • Ashley Day

    I just (somehow) came to this conclusion about myself only an hour ago. I was scrolling through social media judging my friends for doing things.. and I love them! And I keep judging them for doing things I wouldn’t do, and I keep thinking ‘oh I’m better than them, maybe they don’t talk to me because they’re jealous!’
    And now all of the voices that have told me I’m being critical in the past are coming up. and I don’t know how to explain this, but somehow it never really got through to me. I never thought it was a big deal.
    Now I’m reflecting on how I’ve been doing this for years. How am I just now realizing this? Realizing I have become so hard and unloving through my judgment?
    It makes me cry but I think that’s good because I haven’t cried in a very long time. I have a very loving and loyal boyfriend of almost two years who has stuck with me through thick and thin. I keep judging him, wanting him to change, so that I can ‘love’ him, but now I see that I’m the problem. I need to stop judging so I can love him, he doesn’t need to change. I am expecting something from him that he does not know how to give, and that’s okay.
    I’ve asked for hundreds of things from him, and he’s only asked for one: stop being critical. And I thought I got it but I didn’t.
    Though I am now excited, because for the first time I’m realizing this… And every time I hear the mental judgments, I can dig deep and ask myself, “Why are you actually judging them? What’s the real issue here?”
    Thank you for this article.

  • Michael McLean Ousley

    there’s a difference between discernment and judgment. the “judgment” that’s been described here is a condemning evaluation formed out of dissatisfaction. it’s normal and healthy to feel indignation when someone has done something wrong or violated your boundaries. not judging doesn’t mean ignoring or not using discernment. it means being able to face the things and people in your life without a dissatisfaction rooted in your own personal expectations.