In the movie, Made in America, a daughter raids the files at the sperm bank her mother used, and despite her shock in finding out her dad is an infamously slick car salesman, she loves him because he’s her dad. Everything is beautiful until they discover it was a mistake. He really wasn’t her dad after all.
She loved him because she thought he was her dad. Most of us are like that. We have an automatic acceptance of people in our family — even a distant cousin we meet for the first time.
What if we treated all people as relatives? If they are older, we can imagine them to be uncles or aunts or great uncles or great aunts. If close to our own age, they could be long lost siblings or cousins. Youngsters could be our nieces and nephews. Love comes naturally when we haven’t labeled someone as “other.”
It’s really not much of a stretch. In truth, we all are related in one way or another, probably more closely related than you’d think. According to the experts on genetics, you wouldn’t have to go very far back in time to find where your family tree intersects with your friend’s or spouse’s family tree, or anyone’s tree you know. And as you keep going back, the trees cross again and again. We are all, at the very least, distant cousins of one another many times over.
Keep this in mind when you interact with people and the world will feel like a friendlier place.
This doesn’t mean you have to become an easy target for con artists. You don’t have to turn off your good judgement. But you interact with people every day: the bus driver, the clerk at the store, a neighbor, the people you work with. Think of them as family and you’ll feel differently toward them, and that’ll make you act differently toward them, which will make them act differently toward you, and voilà! The world is a friendlier, happier place for real.
Practice it on the next three people you talk to, and you’ll see what it’s like. In your mind, imagine the person is a relative. You don’t have to do anything differently. Simply entertain the idea that the person may be related. We all know intellectually we’re all members of the same human family, but it’s nice to feel it too.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.