We’re All Doing the Best We Can

Mike Robbins
5 min readApr 23, 2024


I truly believe that we’re all doing the best we can given whatever our current situations and resources may be.

However, many of us can be extremely critical of ourselves and others. And even though I’ve been teaching and practicing the power of appreciation for more than two decades, when I find myself feeling scared, threatened, or insecure (which happens more often than I’d like it to), I notice that I can be quite critical (of myself and other people).

Sadly, as I’ve learned throughout my life, being judgmental doesn’t help, feel good, or lead me to what I truly want in my relationships, work, and life.

Doing the Best We Can

I heard the late, great Louise Hay (bestselling author and founder of Hay House, the publisher of my three most recent books), say a number of years ago, “It’s important to remember that people are always doing the best they can, including you.”

The power of this statement continues to have an impact on me to this day. And, although I sometimes forget, when I do remember that we’re all doing the best we can given whatever tools we have and the circumstances we’re experiencing, it usually calms me down and creates a sense of empathy and compassion for the people I’m dealing with and for myself.

When we take a step back and remember that most of the time people aren’t out to get us, we can save ourselves from unnecessary overreactions and stress. And extending this understanding and kindness towards ourselves can significantly improve our lives and relationships.

As the Dalai Lama so reminds us, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

How to Practice Compassion

Here are some things you can do to practice compassion.

1. Give people the benefit of the doubt

Most of the time people have good intentions. Many of us, myself included, have been trained to be cautious and suspicious of others, even seeing this as an important and effective skill in life and business. However, we almost always get what we expect from people, so the more often we give people the benefit of the doubt, the more often they’ll prove us right, and the less often we will waste our precious time and energy on cynicism, suspicion, and judgment.

2. Don’t take things personally

I love the great saying, “You wouldn’t worry about what other people think about you so much, if you realized how little they actually did.” The truth is that most people are focused on themselves much more than on us. Too often we take things personally that have nothing to do with us. This doesn’t mean we let people walk all over us or treat us in disrespectful ways (it can be important for us to speak up and have healthy boundaries). However, when we stop taking things so personally, we liberate ourselves from needless upset, defensiveness, and conflict.

3. Look for the good

We almost always find what we look for. If you want to find some things about me that you don’t like, consider obnoxious, or get on your nerves — just look for them, I’m sure you’ll come up with some. On the flip side, if you want to find some of my best qualities and things you appreciate about me, just look for those — they are there too. As Werner Erhard said, “In every human being there is both garbage and gold, it’s up to us to choose what we pay attention to.” Looking for the good in others (as well as in life and in ourselves), is one of the best ways to find things to appreciate and be grateful for.

4. Seek first to understand

Often when we’re frustrated, annoyed, or in conflict with another person (or group of people), we don’t feel seen, heard, or understood. As challenging and painful as this can be, one of the best things we can do is to shift our attention from trying to get other people to understand us (or being irritated that it seems like they don’t), to seeking to understand the other person (or people) involved in an authentic way.

Understanding others can be difficult, especially when the situation or conflict is very personal and emotional. However, seeking to understand is one of the best ways for us to liberate ourselves from the grip of criticism and judgment, and often helps shift the overall dynamic. Being curious and empathic of another person and their perspective doesn’t mean we agree with them, it simply allows us to get into their world and see where they’re coming from — which is essential to letting go of judgment, connecting with them, and ultimately resolving the conflict.

5. Be gentle with others (and especially with yourself)

Being gentle is the opposite of being critical. When we’re gentle, we’re compassionate, kind, and loving. We may not like, agree with, or totally understand what someone has done (or why), but we can be gentle in how we respond and engage with them. This is about having a true sense of empathy and perspective. And, the most important place for us to bring a sense of gentleness is to ourselves. Many of us have a tendency to be hyper self-critical. Sadly, some of the harshest criticism we dole out in life is aimed right at us. Another great saying I love is, “We don’t see people as they are, we see them as we are.” As we alter how we relate to ourselves, our relationship to everyone else and to the world shifts in a fundamental way.

Everyone around us — our friends, co-workers, significant other, family members, children, clients, and even people we don’t know or care for — are doing the best they can, given the resources they have. When we remember this and come from a truly compassionate perspective (with others and with ourselves), we’re able to tap into a deeper level of peace, appreciation, and fulfillment.



Mike Robbins

Mike Robbins is the author of five books including his latest, We’re All in This Together, which released April 2020. He’s an expert in teamwork and leadership.