Thursday, March 22, 2012

Respect: The act of giving particular attention

At the HapKiDo School we have a definition for respect that I like a lot.  Our definition of Respect: The act of giving particular attention.  All of our students, children and adults, learn this definition at White Belt.  Respect is a hugely important aspect of a good life, and I like this definition because it is so broadly applicable.  We can give particular attention to thoughts and feelings, events and experiences, anything and anyone.  If we show this type of respect to all aspects of our lives and every experience we have then our lives and the lives of those around us will be greatly improved.

If we are mindful to give particular attention and stay present focused at all times and in all interactions then we will be able to provide a significant opportunity to grow as a collective humanity.  The key to this is to be mindful of the action, and to take the time and effort to give the proper attention to match the situation.  On a regular basis I see people doing things that are considered "respectful' without any particular attention.  At a baseball game for example, when the National Anthem is sung people stand up, take off their hats and put their hands over their hearts.  Those are all respectful actions, but how many of those people do you think give the proper attention to what is actually going on right at that moment?  I would like to think that everyone who would take the effort to stand and put their hands over their hearts are giving particular attention to what they are respecting, but then why do so many people talk and do other things like use their cell phones?  The empty action of respect has become a habit, the action is there but there is no particular attention; people aren't mindful.  If you want to be respectful you must be mindful, otherwise your actions of respect may be empty....and useless.

Respect can be classified into three main directions: Respect to others, Respect to objects, and Respect to Self.  These three work together to create harmony in our day to day life.  Respect to others can be as simple as paying attention to them enough to make sure that you don't bump into them on the street.  It also includes things such as paying attention to how your actions play a part in others lives; is what you are doing contributing or taking away from the quality of their lives?  This is an important thought to anyone who is trying to contribute to the world with their lives.  Respect to objects is also hugely important.  If you didn't give the attention to the objects that you use on a daily basis then life as we know it would be completely different.  Respect to self includes many things such as caring for your emotional and physical health, putting attention into your appearance, and wanting and striving towards success for yourself.  When you have respect for yourself then you will be able to respect others, and you will be able to go far in life!

All of the above examples are just a couple of my quick thoughts into the classifications of respect.  I am sure with a quick Google search you could find books upon books on each of these areas.  The ones I mentioned above are easy things to give attention to, and if you don't show these basic respects in your own life then try doing it for a while, you wont be disappointing!  It is my feeling that people typically think of respect as some extra action that is needed in order to give reverence to something, but to me actions of reverence are more etiquette than respect, and it doesn't become respectful until you give it that special attention, mindfulness.  

RJ LoPresti