It is always interesting and revealing to observe human behavior and some behavior seems to be true to form more often than not. In the past years, we have always held a Christmas gift exchange at out house with at least ten of our family. Each year, we all buy gifts wrapped in Christmas paper. When everyone is sitting around a circle, all the gifts are piled in the middle of the floor.
People choose a number from a bowl that tells him or her when they can take their turn to choose any gift. The person with the number one can choose any gift and thereafter, each person takes his or her turn. Before they choose a gift, they have the option of taking the gift from the former person. At the end when all numbers have taken or chosen a gift, the person-holding number one can then take a gift away from any other person.
What is always interesting is watching each person as they choose a gift. What happens next usually happens more often than not. The biggest gift always gets chosen first. It is never the smallest gift, nor is it the fanciest gift-wrapping. What does this tell us about most human behavior?
Is the biggest always the best or worth the most? Is it that we think that something small is not worth as much or cannot live up to our expectations?
Human beings, in fact, come in all sorts of packaging and sizes where some are bigger, some smaller; some dressed eloquently, some dressed poorly. Behind every human trapping though lie unforeseen characteristics, talents, desires, hurts and pains and dreams.
Some of what we so often do is to under evaluate the potential of people who do not fit within our preconceived definition of what is normal or what we view as matching our expectations. It is similar to evaluating the choice of a gift where are previous experiences, desires, or wants far exceeding our current capacity to see beyond what is visually obvious.
The preconceptions that have formed our view of life can be limiting to the point where we are guilty of prejudging everyone we should happen to meet whether in a work situation or in our own personal lives.
The real challenge for all of us is to expand our own capacities to see beyond what our previous prejudices allow us to see. This means that we need to open our minds to the fullness of each person; their opinions, their attributes; their potential. There is much to learn from each person we meet through life. There is also the opportunity to learn, to give, to share, to help, to inform. After all, we grow as people the more we destroy our current narrow views, and give ourselves permission to be challenged, to be wrong, to be humble, to accept that differences are neither bad nor good.