Saturday, November 18, 2006

Curious about Toleration: What Are You Tolerating? Is It Serving You? What Can’t or Won’t You Tolerate?

Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none.” - Edmund Burke

Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.” - Helen Keller

I am involved in an excellent and enlightening program called the “Happy, Healthy and Wealthy Game.” During one of our earlier conference calls, one of our coaches talked about “tolerations” and how we should examine them and, in most cases, give them up. I asked him to explain what he meant and he gave an example of over-indulgence. If we are overeating, we do know that it is not healthy or good for our physical being, but we continue to tolerate this behavior of ours.

Not often hearing this word in the world of self-help, I became curious about how others understand and approach it. I feel that this blog will give you a different idea about toleration and tolerating - at least, researching it has accomplished that for me.

Let’s begin with a definition of tolerate: “To suffer to be, or to be done, without prohibition or hindrance; to allow or permit negatively, by not preventing; not to restrain; to put up with; as, to tolerate doubtful practices.” And, toleration is defined as: “The act of tolerating; the allowance of that which is not wholly approved. Hence, freedom from bigotry and severity in judgment of the opinions or belief of others, especially in respect to religious matters.”

In my quest for what the experts think and say, I found many interesting quotations:
  • Toleration is the best religion.” - Victor Hugo
  • Human beings tolerate what they understand they have to tolerate.” - Jane Rule
  • How many inner resources one needs to tolerate a life of leisure without fatigue.” - Natalie Clifford Barney
  • I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.” - Kahlil Gibran

There were quite a few who stated what they couldn’t tolerate. Do any of these apply to you?

  • No, I don't tolerate pressure from anyone about anything.” - Ashley Judd
  • I don't tolerate negativity in my life. I don't tolerate whiners. I can't be around people that are dumping. The issues of boundaries are so important, so that you don't let invasive or negative people into your life.” - Judy Collins
  • If I went to them all dressed up and flashed a nice smile for the cameras it would probably be easier for me to get work. But I just can't tolerate it.” - Charlie Hunnam
  • I don't tolerate any kind of dishonesty. I bring a lot to the table with my relationships, so I really expect the same.” - David Schwimmer
  • I tolerate my faults but not at all other people's.” - Camille Claudel

Then, a bit of a different twist:

  • The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares.” - Henri Nouwen
  • Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.” - Sigmund Freud
  • All imperfection is easier to tolerate if served up in small doses.” - Wislawa Szymborska
  • The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.” - Douglas Engelbart
  • The psychic task which a person can and must set for himself is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” - Erich Fromm

Here are a couple more to consider during the week:

  • I know that sounds selfish, but you have to look at what it's doing to you personally - are you frustrated because of the way people perceive you, or are you happy enough about the things you've realized about yourself that you can tolerate the way people perceive you?” - Shannon Hoon
  • I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” - Robert A. Heinlein

To summarize, I feel that Shannon Hoon is expressing what my coach was proposing. If you have tolerations that you are not happy about, work on getting rid of them.

So, I ask you, what are you tolerating? Is it serving you or hurting you? As Robert Heinlein states, We are all “morally responsible for everything” we do.