Concentrating on the good qualities of other people helps to bring forward these values in ourself, and also gives real encouragement to others.
Over the New Year I heard an audio talk from my spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy, which offered one simple suggestion for the New Year.
“In the New Year, instead of focusing on people’s bad qualities, concentrate only on their good qualities. For the New Year, make it your resolution to always see good qualities in others and forget about their bad qualities.”
This was the essence of the talk as I remember. A very simple message, but repeated several times, I felt the idea sinking into my mind.
The idea behind this message is highly relevant for everyone.
Whoever we are, it is the nature of the human mind to hold onto the flaws and failings of people around us. It is their undivine qualities – ego and jealousy, which irritate us. When we are displeased with someone, it becomes hard to value their good qualities, which may lie hidden underneath. But, even the most irritating acquaintances and work colleagues will have at least a few good qualities.
Why is it important?
The first benefit is that it will help us to be happier. If we concentrate on people’s bad qualities, we may gain a little feeling of superiority, but this does not give real happiness. If we can appreciate other people’s good qualities, it will give us a sense of satisfaction and self-giving.
The second benefit is that if we focus on other people’s negative qualities – these undivine attitudes will invariable seep into ourself. In other words if we gossip and think about someone else’s pride, in a roundabout way it feeds our own pride. But, if we can appreciate someone’s good qualities in a sincere way, it is a very effective way of attracting that quality into our own self.
“If you see good qualities in others,
Then claim them as your own,
For who knows when you will find
Those same qualities
In your own nature?”
– Sri Chinmoy, AP 211
How to appreciate others good qualities?
Appreciation of others good qualities does not mean we have to make an outer show of flattery. We don’t appreciate others with the subtle hope for the favour to be returned. Sometimes it is a matter of inwardly appreciating their good qualities. But this inner appreciation will help us have a more positive and better attitude ourselves.
Give others opportunities. If someone is struggling, we can give them the opportunity to allow them to do something they are good at. This can enable them to boost their self-confidence.
Change through encouragement. Generally, pointing out someone’s defects are an ineffective way to transform human nature. People rarely respond positively to be told about their undivine qualities – it just encourages a rebelliousness. However, highlighting their good qualities can be an effective way to encourage more of it.
“Encouragement increases others’ faith in themselves to reach their destined goals.”
– Sri Chinmoy 
If someone is often egoistic, we can encourage the occasions when they are not. This is the carrot for them to learn their is more joy in being less egoistic and proud.
- The lazy seeker with one good quality. Whilst on vacation with friends from the Sri Chinmoy Centre, I wrote a short play about the importance of concentrating on the good qualities of your friends. This is the bare outlines of the script; when performed it was a little different due to improvisation.