As a 20 year old, I was calm, cool and collected. Highly rational, not so much emotional. I knew what I wanted (at least, what I thought I wanted) and how I planned to get there. Things were right or wrong, good or bad, happy or sad. Life was much simpler for me then, but not quite as deep or fulfilling.
My best friend once told me that I needed to “embrace the shades of grey in the world.” She wasn’t trying to get me to do something I thought was “wrong”, she was simply telling me that people saw things differently than me. My way may be right in my mind, but not everyone felt the same way. Just because I thought something was crazy, immoral or even wonderful didn’t mean that people around me thought the same. Of course that’s true. As adults, we have usually learned that, but as a strong-willed, ambitious 20-year old, you tend to think you have all the answers.
“Embrace the shades of grey” has been one of my mottos every since.
Life is full of grey. If life was black and white, it would be simple, straight-forward… and, well, boring. The grey is what inspires us. The grey makes us curious. It’s what makes life interesting. It makes you want to learn – about other cultures, other traditions, other beliefs. About other people, other experiences and other interpretations. About new ideas, old ideas and adapted ideas.
In this delicate world, many of us cling to our blacks and whites, judging others by our own personal set of beliefs. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s very important to know your own set of beliefs, and to teach your children the best version of your beliefs as possible. But, our beliefs shouldn’t blind us from understanding the actions and reactions of those with a different set of blacks and whites.
So set your boundaries – and then open yourself up to the multitudes of grey out there in the world. Watch. Reflect. Understand. You don’t need to support the greys, you don’t need to agree with the greys. You just need to observe why people might subscribe to those ideas.
Our ability, as people, to understand where other people come from greatly increases our empathy and emotional intelligence – but more importantly, reduces anger, conflict and negative feelings.
So, get out there - watch, reflect and understand. And embrace the beautiful mosaic of greys out there in this crazy world.
Kimberley Stokes is an adventurous and passionate yogini living in Dubai. Her philosophy is not to take life (or yoga) too seriously. Life is there to be lived and fully experienced – the ups and downs are all part of the package. Join her as she winds her way through this crazy world.
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