Theory of Mind is a weird thing. A couple of years ago, I didn’t even know it was a thing at all, and now I see it everywhere. This is mostly a good thing. Pre-autism diagnosis, I was…let’s call it ‘confused’ a lot. Mostly because people kept doing things that seemed completely irrational. It surprises a lot of people, but it never even occurred to me that other people might think or feel differently than me, so that knowledge was a game-changer. Granted, it took a while to shove the idea into my brain, and more time to be comfortable with it. Even now it’s something that I have to consciously think about.
But this is not what I want to talk about today. It’s wonderful that I can see others as separate from me, but there are also major upsides to thinking that other people think like me, and it leads to me being a better person.
I believe in karma. I believe that my actions influence my future. Not in future lives, but in the here and now. I also believe in the golden rule. I have to be careful with that one though because people don’t generally like it when I treat them the way I’d like to be treated. I try and make sure to treat them the way they want to be treated.
So I try to be the best human that I can be, not just because of karma, but because while I know that I’ll probably never change the world in a big way, I can change it in little ways every day.
The little things
- Smiling at people
- Treating employees like humans
- Giving compliments freely
- Tipping well
- Letting cars merge ahead during rush hour
- Putting carts back where they go
They say “the first thought that goes through your mind is what you have been conditioned to think; the one you think next defines who you are.”
Regardless of what that quote implies, I don’t think that I’ve been conditioned to be an asshole or anything like that. Far from it. What I do think is the fact that I’m autistic who’s been blessed will very poor theory of mind makes the second step easier. The ‘first thought’ is what I think, the ‘next thought’ is what others think.
And it turns out that for the most part, what I want and what other people want is pretty similar. We all want to be respected. We all want people to give us the benefit of the doubt. We all want to be treated like humans. Turns out, it’s not that complicated to be a decent human being.
I know that I’m trying my very best to make my small patch of earth a better place, and I actively choose to believe that others are too. While I’ve encountered a couple of terrible people in my life, my goal is to try to move on from those instances and remember all the good ones, because that means that regardless of the consequences, everyone is trying, and everyone benefits.
Are people innately good? I don’t think we can know. All I can do is quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and say that I believe that the universe “bends toward justice”. Maybe it bends towards karma too, eh?