When it comes to cultivating a peaceful mind, of course there is the inner work of mindfulness, concentration & meditation. The other aspect of it is how we respond to outside influences in our life.
Since most of our outside influences are people, it really matters that we know HOW to respond to different types of people. If we don’t have the right approach — simple interactions with people can be a great cause of suffering for us. The most obvious is dealing with a negative person, someone that intentionally hurts you. But even more common in this age of social media, is the suffering you can feel WITHOUT any social interaction. For example, the feelings of jealousy that can come up when someone that you know doing really well in life.
With everyone showcasing the best parts of their lives on social, every scrolling session creates opportunities for negative emotions to rise within you.
What you will learn in this short teaching, is exactly HOW to approach different types of people in order to maintain your mental peace.
Yoga, is a exact science. In the Yoga sutras, Patanjali has given us the exact formula to approach the 4 different kinds of people.
The 4 types of people are — happy people, unhappy people, virtuous people and wicked people.
Number 1 — Happy People.
To those that are happy -we should be friendly toward them. Being friendly with happy people means that you’ll also be happy, they will be uplifting in nature. If we are not friendly with those who are happy, we may feel jealous. We may feel like we need to be better than them. Why are they so lucky?
These types of feelings only harm us because we keep dwelling on the negative thought of jealousy.
So with people that are happy, cultivate friendliness.
Number 2 — Unhappy people.
With people who are unhappy, we should be compassionate. It’s important here to understand the true meaning of compassion.
Compassion is NOT pity. Most people pity others when they are suffering, they say oh no — how could this happen to you. This is terrible. They validate the negative feelings of the person suffering — helping them continue to suffer. This is not compassion, but rather the response we give because we don’t actually know how to react when we see someone suffering. When you pity someone, you lower both your AND their emotional state.
True compassion is when you wish for the other person to become free of suffering. The only real way to do this is by helping them rise above a mind that is thinking negatively — and providing a positive perspective. Helping them to see that regardless of external circumstances, their internal state is ALWAYS in their own control.
Number 3 — Virtuous people — These are people who are doing good or meritorious work in the world. Patanjali recommends that for virtuous people — we should feel joy, we should take delight in the work they are doing.
When society engages in small talk and gossipping, one of the common themes is fault finding. We often like to find faults in people that are doing well. This only brings our own energy down — and subconsciously makes us feel worse about ourselves.
If instead, we can be delighted at the great work of another — we may actually be inspired to do something meaningful ourselves, and this in turn will increase our personal happiness and sense of well being. With people who are virtuous — we should take delight in them — and become one with them.
Number four — wicked people
For people that are wicked, we should practice indifference. Patanjali says, that we should be indifferent toward them. We should simply realise that how they are acting is a reflection of THEIR mental and emotional condition, and not take it personally.
If someone is acting in a wicked way, or doing something you don’t agree with, you can choose to educate them out of compassion. Educate them on what is right. But after that, simply leave them to be. Don’t have any expectations. Be indifferent. When the time is right, they will learn their own lessons.
We need to realize that we don’t hold the power to change anyone. We can try to inspire them, with our example — and if they want to change they will change. But if they don’t they won’t. There is no point continuously dwelling over somebody elses negative actions.
The next time someone is rude to you, try not to react. Try to realise that this behaviour has got nothing to do with you — and everything to do with THEIR mental state.
With happy people — be friendly
With unhappy people — be compassionate
With virtuous people — take delight in them
With wicked people — Be indifferent to them — don’t dwell on their behaviour, it’s not personal.
Thank you for reading.