Are We Doing The Best We Can?


By Kate

A few weeks ago, I was reading Brené Brown’s Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution when all of a sudden, I had that moment. That moment being when you listen to a song, or hear a story, or watch a movie and you could almost swear that God, or the Universe, or any other type of divine intervention, designed and intended that particular message just for you. I’ll quickly acknowledge that I know the message wasn’t actually intended just for me, as I’m sure the bestseller has prompted a similar ‘aha moment’ for other readers as well. That being said, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Long story short (but the long story is worth the read), Brown shares a personal experience that ultimately leads her on a journey to research and explore the answer to the question: “Do you think, in general, that people are doing the best they can?”

I was a Psychology major in school, due in part to the fact that the department was offering free pizza at its informational session, but more largely, because these types of questions fascinate me. I’m incredibly intrigued by human behavior and the reasoning behind why we do the things we do. This was fun. It was like a game, and I, as the reader, was invited to play. So, getting back to the question, do I think people are doing the best they can? My answer: an emphatic no.

I mean, come on. Look at the state of our world right now. Watch the news. Scroll through Twitter. No freaking way. I’m going to join what I’d expect to be the majority here and say that I’m disappointed in a lot of the things happening in our country right now. It seems that every day, I’m presented new and upsetting opportunities to doubt humanity. I’m given the chance to say, “Yup. See. Some people just suck.” And point to all the evidence I have to support that rationale.

After quickly coming to my own conclusion, I read on. I assumed others that Brown posed the question to would join me in coming to that obvious and resolute answer as well. Here’s what happened: Some did. Others didn’t. There were people that actually gave humanity, as a whole, the benefit of the doubt! I was stunned.

And here’s the part that really got me, that moment I was referencing earlier. When Brown asks her husband if he thinks people as a whole are doing the best they can, this is how he responds: “I don’t know. I really don’t. All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.”

Here’s the thing, I don’t know either. We can never really know if people are giving their best. And yet in moments of frustration, anger, and confusion, I’m quick to assume they aren’t. I become agitated by the person tailgating me, even though I have no idea why he’s in such a rush. I’m impatient with the person ahead of me in line, talking on her phone as she slowly scans her items, even though I don’t know how important her conversation is. Perhaps both are urgent. Perhaps neither are. The point is, I don’t know. And instead of choosing to believe that others are doing the best they can, it’s often easier, more comfortable, and more convenient for me to doubt them.

Yet, instead, I’d like to believe differently. I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt, whether they deserve it or not. I’d like to choose to believe that in general, most of us are trying to do the best we can. Because maybe if I look for the good in other people, I’ll start to see more of it. Maybe if I seek kindness, I’ll experience more of it. Maybe if I smile first, they’ll smile back. Maybe other people need my compassion, empathy, and forgiveness just as much as I need theirs.

I’m human, so I’m guessing I’ll still sometimes get annoyed when people tailgate me, or when they take their sweet, distracted time ahead of me in line. I’ll be upset when people are mean on the internet or when they’re mean to their waiter. I’ll likely have moments prompting me to come back to that question and wonder to myself, whether people are really doing the best they can. At those times, I’ll do my best to remember that they’re human too and I’ll hold tight to my newfound choice to believe that yes, for the most part, they are. Because I’d like to think that similar to Brown’s husband, my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best, and perhaps that belief and my subsequent behavior will make their lives better too.

{featured image via pexels}

18 thoughts on “Are We Doing The Best We Can?

  1. Ali says:

    All things are subjective in this imperfect world. Me giving my best may be someone else giving their near worst. And yet, perhaps my best is someone’s goal, and they lag far behind. I know that I”m not always at my best – how exhausting would that be?! But I am also trypically trying to be decent, if not good.
    I think lots of people are just exhausted and somewhat jaded by negative experiences. If we give people, in general, the benefit of the doubt we will in turn find ourselves more compassionate and empathetic with ourselves, as well as others.
    Brene Brown writes honestly and beautifully. She is Brutiful. And so are you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. malloryadamsblog says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It made me think. I too, am caught up in thoughts of the world and all of the chaos. I need to give people the benefit of the doubt more often than I do. Thanks for this post!


  3. ellenbest24 says:

    My mind thinks the way that is suggested, you can never know what thing may be happening in someone elses life. So i try to be the best me and give the benefit of the doubt. Life is simply too short. Thank you.😇

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Purple Lover says:

    Wow! Brilliantly written post. It kind of seems to agree with a post I wrote yesterday. Of course, it isn’t written with as much expertise as yours since I am still a beginner. I could really learn a thing or two from you and your post. Please do go through mine when you find the time. It’s titled “The Little Things”. I would love to hear some advice from you on how I could write better. Thanks in advance and keep up the good work. 🙂


  5. debbiepalmer176 says:

    This is a wonderful post, thank you for sharing your thoughts! I agree with Ali that people are exhausted so it is difficult to be at your best all of the time. As long as people aren’t rude, demeaning, cruel I always try to show empathy. That is hard if you haven’t walked in their shoes, but I wish more people would give it a try.


  6. millennialsavingmoney says:

    We live in a world where people will make mistakes and they don’t intend on doing that. I learned that it’s best not to judge others. It’s not fair to them. I don’t know what they have to go through on a day to day basis. I like that this post got me thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. seedysyntax says:

    Hey, Kate, this is a really interesting concept. Have you conducted any mini experiments to see how it works in your own life? It’d be interesting to test out in social situations.


  8. redfoxdownunder says:

    I loved this post! Focussing on how the choice to believe others are doing their best really resonated with me. The belief from yourself that they are, makes your own life (and those around you) that much better. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful idea.


  9. Jenny says:

    I love Brene Brown, but I haven’t read this book yet. What a great insight to think about. I agree that giving people the benefit of the doubt probably improves our own feelings of well being. I loved your thoughts on this book!


  10. MyoPaname says:

    Chaque personne est unique et porte des qualités humaines et des talents qui ne demandent qu’à se déployer. Encore faut-il y croire et faire grandir ce “meilleur” de soi… pour son propre bonheur et celui des autres….😉


  11. bursh1 says:

    This post really worth reading. Personally I will say that am doing the best I can, but you can only say of yourself because some people usually underrate their capabilities. That question I must say should be answered by an individuals.


  12. Redneck Lena says:

    Good read and it got my mind running so fast I can barely keep up! Are we doing the best we can? Honestly speaking, no. Personally I am not! I do what I need to just to get it done because I am caught up in living the American dream! The American dream of the happily married, couple kids and the proverbial white picket fence life! Why? Because I am conditioned to it, that this is expected! Well what if I said nope, not for me, and move to an island (I’d be taking the hubby and kids but leaving the white picket fence because it’s a bitch tonpaint and I hate painting and don’t want to paint the stupid fence)! I’d be on island time which would be my own pace! But why don’t I or haven’t I? Because I’m scared to fail! So in turn I work 50 hours a week, I have bills like house payment, school loans and credit cards, and white picket fences to paint in my spare time! No I am not doing the best I can because I just want to nap, to throw the clocks and checkbook away and just breath, just truly live, my way, my pace and then it is then that I will be T my best, doing the best I can and want to!


  13. EatsEscapades says:

    This was beautiful to read and very insightful. I would like to believe – and I do believe – that for the most part, people are doing their best. It allows me to continue believing there’s a meaning to everything I do and that I always can do better by believing others are all doing their best.


  14. apocalipsbwilliams says:

    Phenomenal post. Now if only 8 billion or so more people thought this way. Imagine everyone in the world stopped what they were doing and gave the person next to them a hug, a smile, a hand shake suggesting “we’re all human. It’ll be okay.” Unfortunately (when looking around our global community) this world is fueled by another energy altogether. Agreed. We’re the captains of our own vessel….masters of our destiny. An individual can only control his or her response to outside stimulus by whatever means (belief, self discipline, stress management, medication or hell…medication!!!) Again it’s all behavioral management. The question of whether the collective is doing their best is obvious given our historic record on this planet and our present standing. Achieving perfection or minding our own behavior, well? I believe that’s taught in every temple, church, synagogue, mosque, hall…(you know where I’m going with this.) Keep doing the best you can, but you can’t possibly think others will because they’re not wired that way. Coming full circle in knowing you’re not always going to be at your best is simply self awareness. I’m sure many others share that sentiment. We’re flawed. But coming to this conclusion can also spark a change…more for the better than not. Keep trying. The road to improvement is not about the destination, it’s lies within the path taken to get there.


Comments are closed.