Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Power to Overlook

It seems to me that some of the happiest people appear to have powerful abilities to overlook. It may be that they are oblivious or blissfully ignorant… literally not seeing the faults in others; one cannot be bothered by what one does not see. Could be… but I think it is something more noble.

It seems to me that some of the happiest people chose to overlook. They chose to not see minor offenses. They accommodate faults. With them, there is abundant mercy and grace.

A study of conflict resolution reveals a range of activities. On one end of the scale is the sort of conflict resolution that requires professionals, the sorts of things that require lawyers and courts, or possibly professional mediators or arbitrators. On the other end of the scale is overlooking. The ability to overlook is the frontline of conflict resolution… when the conflict and the resolution occur near simultaneously, and the conflict is resolved all on the part of the overlooker.

There is a lot of power in the ability to overlook, or put another way… we should not overlook the power to overlook.

If we are going to be in any sort of relationship, we simply must determine to overlook. Whether it is a close personal relationship, a professional relationship, a distant relationship, or even a relationship with an organization, nobody is perfect. There are tradeoffs. We take the good with the bad, enjoying the meat and spitting out the bones.

We overlook the small stuff because we choose to see something more important, possibly even in the distance. We remember that small things can obscure big things. Like our tiny moon can occasionally eclipse our enormous sun, the small things we bring close to our view can block our sight of the bigger, better, more important things beyond.

Overlooking certainly does not fit every situation; it can be abused. I’m not suggesting that we allow ourselves to be doormats. But in cases where we can overlook, I’m suggesting that we should. Overlooking is not powerlessness, it is taking up our power and using it by determining to overlook.

The power to overlook is especially helpful to the hyperaware. Some of us simply see more details than others, quickly noticing what others may not ever see. For some, we are hyperaware about most everything, others are hyperaware along specific categories (maybe an area of expertise, or a particular sense). Without developing a high capacity to overlook, the hyperaware can be among the grumpiest, most miserable people among us. 

Would you like more happiness in your life? Perhaps we can make a little more space for overlooking. Chose to overlook. 

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