A few days ago I went grocery shopping. As I parked and started to get out of my car, I saw a lady across from me walk out of her car with a bag of popcorn, open up the bag, dump all the popcorn on the ground, and casually walk into the store, bag in hand.

I wondered, why would she do this? The trash can was 20 feet away. And popcorn certainly isn’t biodegradable. Maybe she wants to use that bag to steal something, I thought.

As I walked into the store I saw a bird or two fly in and pick up a piece of popcorn. But I didn’t think anything of it, and continued on my way into the store to shop. About an hour later I walked back out to my car and saw more birds eating that same popcorn.

Then it dawned on me: this lady wasn’t deliberately littering just because she could. She was trying to feed the birds! She cared for them enough to take her excess popcorn from the theater and give them something to snack on.

Doesn’t this scenario happen to us in life? We see someone do something and we instantly make judgments about their character. We look at them as worse than ourselves and we focus on their flaws.

Well, I’m starting 2014 in a different way. I’m going to start giving people the benefit of the doubt. And next time I go to the movies, now I know what to do with my extra popcorn.