by Todd Puntolillo

IF … I were given the power to cure one illness that haunts mankind, I would pass up cancer, breeze by AIDS, and overlook heart disease because curing the malady I have in mind might help cure the others as a side effect.

The cure I would seek would be the cure for Criticism.

No disease shrivels up the souls of innocent children, destroys the family unit, damages the business place, incapacitates government, or produces stress like criticism. The terrible three (criticism, judgmentalism, and complaint) do more to dishearten the spirit and, in general create misery, pain, and sorrow than anything else I have ever encountered. Their use is so commonplace that, in many cases, we don’t even take note when words of criticism are being voiced. Sitcoms find their success in “put downs” while millions watch and laugh.

We need to create an awareness of the damage done by blame, censure, ridicule, judgment, complaint, condemnation, and criticism.

The main objection I hear to this statement is that criticism is needed to make corrections. If your comments do not ridicule, blame, shame, attack or demean someone, this is not the criticism I am referring to. If you are suggesting, instructing or in some way assisting someone, you are using healthy methods. According to Webster, criticizing is the opposite of encouraging. Encouraging or helping someone is a form of kindness or caring; this is quite different from criticizing to make someone wrong. I am certain most of us know the difference between being helped and being invalidated.

When we criticize, faces drop and spirits sink. The criticizer announces his own loveless soul when browbeating someone. Criticism teaches children that they are inadequate or unlovable. Blame stops progress in the business environment and undermines every goal. Condemnation and censure perpetuate racism and warlike thinking. What happens to your creativity when you are under fire?

Criticism is an excellent tool to intimidate and invalidate someone.

Why would anyone consciously teach intolerance, start arguments, alienate others, hurt the feelings of the people who love them, attract criticism to himself, bring disharmony to a peaceful place, stifle the dynamics of world unity, break up families or knowingly break people’s hearts and wills?

Knowing that if you don’t perform you’ll be criticized or judged creates stress and mistakes. It is widely accepted that stress is the most common cause of disease. And haven’t we even been told that stress kills? Isn’t this reason enough for us to examine the motives behind criticism?

Clearly criticism confronts and opposes spiritual love. The solution for us is to care about our own happiness and the happiness of others enough to give up trying to make them wrong so we can look good. We don’t have to be right!

At first, this concept sounds threatening. Believe me…

In spite of what we’ve always been told, we don’t have to be right all of the time!

Once we realize this, life becomes a whole lot freer and easier! You might have heard it spoken this way, “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?” The continual need to justify oneself precludes happiness for both parties. Why have we heard so little about criticism in this light before? Because those who criticized us thought they needed to be “right.” Putting others down got the job done! Criticism is attack and as such destroys. What’s more, the criticized party usually defends himself by mentally making his critic wrong. We usually accomplish nothing trying to convince someone that he is wrong. Better to let him know we care and want to help.


  • Lavish appreciation and encouragement on everyone.
  • Teach gratitude and healthy values by being grateful and joyful.
  • Assist those who are making mistakes.
  • Refuse to criticize, complain or condemn.
  • Work gently toward bringing about change.

Can you imagine a world where we all behave as if we really want harmony?

As always, the choice is yours.


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