I was taking an outdoor yoga class last month. There were 200 of us at the park – it was beautiful and peaceful. And then, at one point, emergency vehicles passed by the class. Sirens, lights – the whole shebang. I was irritated. Here I was in the middle of this very chill, spiritual, quiet moment and here they are wrecking my peace with their sirens. But it was how my instructor addressed it that blew me away.

She said, “Let’s pause here for just a second and think about that poor person: in pain, being attended to and who’s probably scared. And let’s think of the paramedics rushing to take care of them.”

It stopped me in my downward dog. What a beautiful way to reframe annoying sounds. It’s such a simple spin on something that had the potential to ruin my experience. Instead, we took a moment. Put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and focused on them.

Anytime throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season, it’s so easy to make snap judgements. You know what I mean – the ones about the woman in the Audi who cut you off, or the man who used “too many coupons” when checking out ahead of you and made you late for dinner. Before you go off the deep end when something throws a wrench in your plans, try to resist the urge to judge or get angry.

Maybe that woman in the Audi is rushing to the hospital to be with an ill family member. Maybe that man is struggling to find work but still trying to make a great holiday for his family. Putting ourselves in service of them, thinking of them first, can help us gain perspective, cultivate empathy, and ultimately work towards understanding people more. And that just means being happier, being kinder and being more successful as a person.

Being understanding and compassionate this holiday season is more important than ever. We’ve been locked down for a few years and missing our loved ones. Holiday parties are back and could be crazier as we all enjoy being together again. Be gentle this year – on others and yourself. Put yourself in their shoes. If you’re not sure how to get your foot in their shoes, let’s find some time to chat. I’d love to hear from you.