My philosophy for life is that:

Everyone does what they think is best at the time.

If they didn’t think it was best, then they wouldn’t do it.

If you’re a smoker, you might know it’s not in your best interest to smoke, but you think it’s the best thing to do at the time to ease your anxiety or entertain your fingers or pascify the nicotine drive in your mind.

If you exceeded the speed limit, you know it’s against the law, but you thought it was best, at the time, if you got there faster – or there’s a little thrill you get in speeding that feels better than a slow-driving life.

If you yelled at your kid, you might think poorly of it now, but at the time, it was the best response – you thought that might make them listen, or the best way to sooth your anger was to yell.

Even when people do really nasty terrible things, they are doing them because they thought it was best, at the time. This motivation can be internal or external – best for them, or best for the world.

For me, knowing that everyone does what they think is best at the time helps me accept poor decisions that others do. They weren’t doing it because they thought it was the wrong thing to do – they did it because they thought it was the best thing to do!

It’s a unifying concept – making what we believe are the best decisions is fundamentally human.

Since I’ve started to think this way, I’ve felt more accepting of what other people do. I no longer wonder “Why?” when people partake in actions that are upsetting or harmful or tragic. I feel sympathy instead – “Wow, they really thought that was their best option?”

Give it a go sometime and see if it gives you peace too.