I love that line from the poem Desiderata.
If you reflect back someone's anger, someone's hurt, someone's chipped shoulder, bitterness or jealousy, YOU become that same thing yourself...YOU are in a sense, making the very same life choices they have. You are handing over your spirit to someone mean, bitter, icky and saying "I want to be just like you"! If they are unkind, and you are unkind back to "show them", then look...you are the same person! There are some truly miserable people out in this world, I've decided. If someone says something that you sense stems from envy or insecurity, why not come back with a great big compliment instead of reacting defensively? It takes practice and purpose, but it's so powerful! It becomes a habit if you try. And sometimes yes, I don't want to try. But when I do, I feel so good.
My mom used to tell us all the time, "Just take the high road." I don't think I liked hearing it every time, but boy, every time I've ever taken the middle road, or especially the low road, I've totally wished, in hindsight, that I took the high road. The high road to me, equals no regrets ever. If you stick to the high road, you'll never participate in anyone else's garbage. You'll never be less than proud of yourself. You'll never say, "Oh, how I wish I never got involved in that." Or "I wish I never said that or did this." Never. You'll always maintain your integrity.
Every decision and interaction we make in life sets the tone for how we want to be known by our family, children, husband, aunts, uncles, cousins and by our friends, and complete strangers.
Awhile ago, a reader left me this comment on a post I wrote:
Something my mother always tells me that HER mother used to always say...
You have three names in life:
the name you were given at birth,
the name that you make for yourself,
and the name that everyone knows you by.
That last one is the most important, because it is the name that you must work the hardest to change.
She would then ask me, "Do you want to be known as a Liar, Cheater, Thief (or jaded, mean, bitter)?
Or Generous, Kind Hearted and Loving?"