There are a few human behaviors that just don’t make any sense to me. As much as I try to understand them, I can’t seem to figure them out. I strive to empathize with different perspectives, cultural contexts, and world views, so I really feel I must be missing something. Plus, having a reasonable explanation makes it much less likely for me to be annoyed at people!

1. Leaving a mess in an inappropriate place. Some people are messy, I get it. And some people don’t flush the toilet at home because they want to save water. But what about the people who don’t flush at work? Are they trying to save water? Are they used to only using automatic toilets? Do they forget? Or, like my friend’s three year old, do they have a terrible phobia of the sound of a flushing toilet?

2. If I sit down on the train, I take up just one seat – with my body and my bag. Sometimes a person who might need a seat and a half sits down two seats away, which is cool, and that leaves a half a seat between us. Inevitably, a third person gets on the train and decides to sit in that half of a seat. And the other half of them is sitting on me! I know I have particular sensitivities about personal space, but it also occurs to me that if they are in my personal space, I am also in theirs. Why would anyone want to sit on my lap on the train? Is standing that terrible? Are they mad at the person who took up more than a seat? Do they not have a good gauge of their own body size?

3. All pieces of litter start out in a place where it would not be considered litter. A cup of coffee in a car. A bag of chips in your hand. What happens when people decide to just throw something on the ground? Are they tired of carrying it? Do they not have any pockets? Do they hate the smell of cold coffee in the car?

Usually, I can give folks the benefit of the doubt or come up with a reasonable explanation, but these three things leave me at a complete loss. Can you explain these odd human behaviors in a compassionate way?

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