Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves, according to Wikipedia
When I was young, I don’t think I was such a compassionate person. I think I may have been caring and kind, but I do not think I was truly compassionate.
I did not go out of my way, nor did I always take the time to remember the details of others’ lives. I came to realize this was important and meant a lot, when someone takes a moment to enquire how they are faring.
Animals have the ability to teach compassion to anyone.
We are possessed by the things we possess. When I like an object, I always give it to someone. It isn’t generosity-it’s only because I want others to be enslaved by objects, not me. Jean-Paul Sartre
I was washing the Schnauzer Dog this morning and the young pup and rest of the family kept interrupting me, pushing open the door hitting me in the shoulder, when I was working with the dog in the tub, full of shampoo.
If it wasn’t the pup pushing open the closed door latch, it was the Moth a.k.a. ‘Man of the House,’ (New homes appear to have internal doors that don’t securely latch closed, unless you slam them).
Each time the door was opened, the very wet and soapy Schnauzer, now full of shampoo would repeatedly try to leap from the tub, and and you can just imagine how slippery a fully soaped up dog was. It was a slightly exasperating situation.
Dog washing complete, I then set about cleaning the laundry and the same scene repeated, much to my dismay. Newly cleaned floors covered with either Schnauzer paw prints or Moth footprints as suddenly everyone wanted to get into the laundry for some reason. Grr.
I felt the tension rising in my body. I was irritated by the door latch not staying closed and the laundry suddenly becoming busier than Central Station. After a few grumbles under my breath, I paused, took a deep breath and tried to remember the wise saying I read earlier this week:
If there is something you don’t like, you can either change it or change the way you think about it.
Each and every day, the real battle for freedom takes place in your mind.
Do you have a way of dissolving tension that works for you?
So many of us seek, even actively chase, a sense of peace and fulfillment. We enjoy the fruits of life that we find bestowed on us, in parochial measure, but can we say that we truly treat ourselves kindly or are content, with ourselves?
Kindness as an act, is something we do in treating and interacting with others. Whatever your beliefs, as a child of this universe, we are all deserving of kindness and respect. It is a fundamental human right.
And yet, we shy away from practising loving self-care towards our own bodies and minds, because it gives rise to feelings of guilt. Or, we see it as some kind of character flaw, a sign of weak indulgence or self-centred narcissistic navel-gazing.
Body Image and Disliking Ourselves
Some of us take this even further developing an intense hatred or discomfort with parts of our bodies, for whatever reason. We seek to change the way we look via cosmetics, surgery or decoration.
We may have been unkind to ourselves over time, seeing ourselves only through others’ eyes. It is all too easy to be hyper-critical of an imperfection, when comparing oneself to others. It is important that we see that this kind of perspective, or lens, distorts the way we think about our own bodies and our sense of self suffers. Over time, these thoughts become hard to shift.
..there is no hurt, no lost or berated part of ourselves that cannot be touched by our own loving kindness. Indeed, little kindnesses towards ourselves made habitual in daily life are enough to turn any tide, bit by bit, day by day.
Whatever we think of ourselves, at this moment, we must not forget that we ARE INDEED unique and valuable to this world.
In apportioning loving kindness to all, we can consciously practice self-care.
Being kind to oneself, on a regular basis, is a useful life skill which can help us more readily soothe and quell anxiety and distress in the face of difficult challenges, or thoughts.
Furthermore, when we are kind to ourselves, (and others), we begin to see that we are indeed worthy of tenderness and this, in turn, may strengthen not only our own self- confidence, but also feelings of comfort and support.
It is never too late to be kind and loving towards ourselves. The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. Focus on thinking that will sustain and support you.
Before you panic, I’m not advocating opening up borders and businesses in the midst of a pandemic. Far from it, I err on the side of caution and conservatism when it comes to nasty bacteria and viruses.
Rather, I am referring to opening the door to our minds and our lives, which often stays closed, to the present moment.
The Present Moment
When old friends get together, they reminisce about the past. Older people love to chat about those heady, carefree days of youth. Their stories are tinged with regret. Regret that they didn’t do more, see more, love more.
Why is it we close our mind to really seeing the world around us, as each moment passes by, a moment that we will never be able to fully experience again? Many of us appear to prefer our own thoughts and stick with thinking that revolves around plans, or worries, for the future, and regrets or reminisces about the past.
When our minds are fixed in the mental construct that is the past or the future, we are more likely to create anxiety within ourselves.
Our Public Persona
Most of us have secrets and thoughts we stash away in the far recesses of our mind. We rarely show our complete self to another person. Presumably for fear of rejection. Because rejection hurts. So we present a public face and persona to the world and our private self is only for the movie that is running in our own minds.
It seems we now prefer to see what everyone else is doing, via the medium of a glass screen than to be involved in life, with all our senses.
Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world that occurs when we’re afraid it will hurt us or let us down. Cynics always say “no.”
If we always say no, we miss out on learning and growing. Saying yes leads to firsthand experience and knowledge. “Yes” is for strong, open-minded people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”
Marc and Angel
Why are we ignoring the immediate world around us?
Could we be preferencing cynicism over wisdom?
As Marc and Angel state,
“Accepting some level of risk in life is important. Everything you want to do takes daily practice.
Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to remember years from now.
Make decisions and act on them. Make mistakes, fail and try again.”
Blame and finding fault teaches us to avoid facing up to some truth about ourselves.
It encourages us to search for what is wrong and who we think was responsible because of an underlying often unconscious belief, we carry, that infers if we are always right, we will be happy. If we could control other people and their actions, then that might be possible.
We all know that controlling others is, pretty much, impossible.
When controlling others fails, as it inevitably does, our innate Plan B might be to use guilt, fear, domination or manipulation; even conditional love and criticism to get what we think we want, or feel that we need.
If there is no value in holding on to guilt, why do we do so? Why is it so hard to let things go?
Forgiveness is the key.
Forgive yourself as well as others, for your own sake.
Tolstoy suggested a bad mood might be the reason we blame others. How often do we hear:
“If only they/it would/didn’t/can ………”
Yet blaming others is not likely to lead to feelings of serenity. Instead it may create more negative feelings and paint your own self as a victim, as the following quote alludes.
“Some people love being victims because they love being able to blame someone else. Accountability is too much for them. They don’t like being responsible for who they have become or where they are in life.” Anonymous
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless, diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples to build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy
Are you wanting to find more peace and contentment in your life, in this the year of instability?
Giving and assisting others is one way in which you can make people’s lives better and simultaneously feel a sense of satisfaction, achievement and contentment.
If you want to make a difference in your own world, start with the world around you.
If making a difference, all at once, seems a too tall an order or impossible for you, or the process of trying too stressful, consider that we can instantly make a difference, fairly easily.
Start by focusing on one person at a time – maybe that is the person closest to you.
When we don’t have time or cannot visit elderly relatives or neighbours because of work or Covid constraints, or even personal inclination – (a lack of interesting conversation), a small note, text message or phone call will always be welcomed by them.
Spread loving thoughts to cherished ones.
It is all too easy to assume family members are going to be there for us and thus, we might forget to make any kind of effort towards them. Ironically, those relationships are the ones we often need to nurture the most.
5 Easy Ways to Improve Humanity
Pay it forward – pay for the next person’s coffee in the queue, without expecting anything in return.
Donate to a charity something that you value – something that might bring joy to someone in unfortunate circumstances.
Give a homeless person, a home-baked treat or a fresh meal, a warm coat or bag of toiletries.
Help out at an animal shelter for a day or a week. Animals are incredible healers of the human spirit.
Smile at each person you met in a genuine time considered way – (being cognizant of cultural and social norms).
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
You do not need to convince anyone, only yourself.
Break Down Goals into Smaller Pieces
Always useful is the tip to break down seemingly impossible tasks or goals into baby steps, and work steadily towards your goal. This is a great life skill and a way to move forward when negative feelings overwhelm us.
If you make one person smile, or laugh, even just for a moment, their smile just might make others smile too. In this subtle way, you can touch the masses with thoughtfulness.
Aim to make a bunch of small splashes, and let the ripples spread naturally.
If you want to change another person’s mind or mood, you might have to change a little of yourself, at first and then work on enhancing the environment and the people around you.
Gode ord skal du hogge i berg, de dårligere i snø.
Carve your good words in stone, the bad in snow.
Old Norwegian Proverb
I do love the way old words of wisdom offer us a way forward when we are stuck in our heads, with thoughts that do us no good at all.
Old proverbs offer us succinct suggestions and have many layers of interpretation, if we are open to listening.
Not only does the Norwegian proverb relate to criticism of others, it might also give us advice on how we view ourselves and how we react to criticism from other people.
Criticism from Others
Is it possible to eliminate criticism?
Du kan unngå kritikk ved ikke å si noe, ikke å gjøre noe og ikke å være noe.
You can escape criticism by not saying anything,
by not doing anything and becoming nothing.
The only way to escape criticism entirely is to follow the Danish proverb’s advice.
Accepting that there will always be people who criticize, regardless of what you do or how well you do it, is something we might have to hear, but not something we have to internalize.
If you say you want to be a dancer, they will discredit your rhythm. If you say you want to build a new business, they will give you a dozen reasons why it might not work. They somehow assume you don’t have what it takes, but they are dead wrong.
It’s a lot easier to be negative than positive – a lot easier to be critical than correct.
“The happiness of life is made up of the little charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment.”
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In the wake of #Black Lives Matter, some folk appear inclined to believe that being strong is a way to win respect, when it is just a way to promulgate fear.
They may have mistakenly learnt that in being strong they achieve more, or receive more. Does being strong ever bring happiness and contentment?
The two just don’t seem to go hand in hand.
Does a staunch or rigid boss even win respect from his workers by being hard-core? Or they do live in fear of disappointing him? Does a hard-line leader win support through negativity or merely decrease morale?
Kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness, nor forgiveness for acceptance. It’s about knowing resentment of any kind is not on the path to happiness.
Self – Criticism
We may be in the habit of berating or criticising ourselves for perceived shortcomings, constantly putting our own needs last, or inadvertantly disallowing ourselves the time, space and patience we deeply need to rest, heal and, ultimately to feel more content. In short, we are unwittingly being unkind to ourselves.
We may be our harshest critic; it may have become second nature to criticise ourselves and very challenging to praise and comfort ourselves or others.
But we cannot pour from an empty cup.
Kindness can fortify life, and seeing ourselves and others through a kinder lens can make a world of difference to all.
Regular practice of kind words and actions is infectious and it might just be the highest real success we achieve in this life. And it needn’t cost a thing.
Ultimately it is up to us as the sole creator of our thoughts.
Do you think you will appear weak if you show kindness to others?
Would it feel indulgent or selfish to show kindness to yourself?
Is there a time when you must display strength, without kindness, to survive?
I am a bit late with posting my Sunday Sayings quote as it is now Monday afternoon, in Australia. I don’t want writing a regular blog post to become a chore, for then I feel sure my writing would lose spontaneity and appeal, so if I can’t think of anything useful to write, I won’t post at all. Just so you know.
Today’s inspiration resulted after a long walk along the beach with a friend.
Being on the beach at sunrise is fantastic and I feel extremely fortunate to experience it. With little accompanying wind and a mild air temperature, (given it was a winter’s morning in a sub-tropical part of Australia), the sun bid good morning through the low level cloud, hugging the islands across the bay.
That fire breathing star of atoms we all depend on for life, shone over the lapping seawater like a spotlight on a runway carpet. A beam of golden light that stretched across the ocean from the horizon to the shore line like a path to eternity. Magical.
As we walked, my friend and I chatted about life’s dramas, past experiences and the week ahead. She told me about a gentlemen on a UK TV show, who faced enormous challenges in his daily life, and who had seemingly had more than his share of devastating family tragedies, with one cataclysmic life event following another.
In chatting about the TV show and these experiences, I remembered a quote I had read some time back.
Life Challenges and Adversity
After our walk was done and I was at home sipping a cup of tea, I pondered some more about life and facing adversity.
We have all experienced some level of adversity in life.
Everyone has challenges, sooner or later. There wouldn’t be one person on the planet that hasn’t faced some kind of adversity.
Given that such challenges and adversity are omnipresent, or a natural part of life, aiming to live a life without them seems a tad unrealistic and even far-fetched.
Yet how often do we yearn, and sometimes expect, life to be challenge free: wishing for an easy life.
I guess it is in our nature to want life to be trouble free and have free time to pursue hobbies, sport or leisure pursuits. Devices, gadgets and the latest electronic inventions promises itself as a panacea to our time-poor existence.
So I ask:
Why are we looking to save so much time?
In doing so, are we living in the here and now, or looking forward to a mythical ‘down’ time, failing to notice our lives, passing by?
Why do we Want More Leisure Time Anyway?
To make life more meaningful
To experience more relaxation and peace
To conduct leisure pursuits
To stop working in a job that bring us joy
What is it that gives us a sense of satisfaction in life?
If the Covid pandemic has any lesson, it is that some folks become completely bored without work, with nothing constructive to do, and a few even create mischief for others.
Is it in the facing of challenges that we come alive?
In overcoming adversity and challenges, even if painful or sad, we can learn and grow. This, in turn, might lead to a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment. Right?
You tell me.
What is it that you are seeking in wanting more leisure time?
Would you prefer a life completely free from challenges?
Join the Discussion
Everyone is welcome to comment, well except for spammers, of course.
Are You Expecting Too Much? Is it time to evaluate or eliminate unreasonable rules and expectations.
When we are feeling a bit dissatisfied with the way life is, we tend to make judgements about other’s actions that are somewhat misaligned or skewed.
We might miscontrue their intentions, place expectations on others and inadvertantly set uprules for how life should be, when there may be an alternative explanation.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking:
“He was late, so he must not care about me.” – Or –
perhaps he just got caught in traffic.
“If I can’t do this correctly, then I must not be smart enough.” – Or –
perhaps you just need more practice.
“I haven’t heard back from my doctor, so the test results must be bad.” – Or
– perhaps the lab is just really busy and your results aren’t available yet.
Marc and Angel
Inventing rules like these about how life must be, based on stubborn expectations, may lead to dissatifaction. We must deal with the world the way it is, not the way you expect it to be.
Life is under no obligation to give you exactly what you expect.
This isn’t to say that you should never expect anything at all from yourself and others such as diligence, honesty, ambition, but rather that the rules that govern your expectations should not steer you toward unreasonably negative conclusions.
Just because it didn’t turn out like you had envisioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what you need to get to where you ultimately want to go.
Marc and Angel
If you feel dissatisfied or let down by an outcome, then you might have been thinking or expecting something quite different.
Were your expectations too high/narrow?”
“What new truths have you learned from this experience?”
Keeping an external focus allows us to find a lesson somewhere from every experience. When we find the lesson, we can grow from such an experience, rather than retreat into misery or unhelpful mindsets.
We must be careful to see and accept things as they are instead of allowing ourselves to be upset that things are not as you hoped, wished, or expected them to be.
When the internet came along, it was suggested that everything would be done online, from shopping to employment and communications. Individuals would not need to leave home to live their consumer lives.
The public however, has shown that we are primarily social creatures and are reluctant to embrace a completely virtual lifestyle.Whilst online shopping has undoubtedly increased, it wasn’t the tidal wave envisaged by the tech industry, until Covid 19 came along.
Our lives have become more virtual, whether we liked it, or not.
Getting takeout or takeaway doesn’t seem to give us the same experience as dining in at a restaurant or cafe. Neither does the online shopping experience feel quite as satisfying as the benefits of browsing in person at a store, feeling the fabric in a garment, physically trying on clothing, or chatting to another shopper, seeing what is around.
Because it is not just the objective alone, that is important.
It’s the whole consumer experience.
The atmosphere at the cafes and shops is attractive to us through our senses: the watching of people; the smells, sights and sounds; (overwhelming for some), or the conversation with friends you meet whilst shopping; the interaction with Cafe staff and fellow diners; the inspirational decor on the walls, or from the books on the shelves in a bookstore; even the art on the walls.
All of this, together, gives us a pleasurable sensory experience that is clearly important to us, as a comment on my second blog alluded.
“We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”
Benefits of Covid and Virtual Lifestyle
During the Covid lockdown, skies, streets and air appears cleaner and we have more time on our hands. None of that horrid sitting stuck in traffic on the way home from work, or rushing to catch a crowded train with a million other commuters at 5pm.
Other people discover there is time to get to know their kids, becoming involved, by choice or necessity, in their education, or generally engaging with them more because there is little ecternal events to absorb their time. (Albeit for some, this could be far more stressful and family life might suffer from a lack of outside exposure, stimulation or influence).
All wonderful benefits of an enforced, semi-virtual life.
Yet, it seems even introverts or socially phobic individuals have struggled with being cooped up during the Covid pandemic.
We, as humans, seem to value social interaction above any virtual experience.
Cafe Society Lifestyle
Prior to the appearance of Covid, the Cafe society was a popular lifestyle choice in Australia. When cafes closed down in lock-down, no one knew what would happen. Aussie Cafes/Diners and Restaurants were legally allowed to operate only on a takeaway, (takeout), basis.
Many chose to close, temporarily, or permanently and the alfresco cafe dining experience came to an abrupt end.
The Beach Esplanade, near my home, is lined with popular cafes and restaurants of all persuasions and cuisines. Being smaller businesses, most have closed completely, but some remain open. Last night, I placed a phone order for a ‘Quarantine Pack’, at one of the restaurants. Being a Friday night, I wondered what I’d find when I arrived for the meal.
At the Italian restaurant itself, a makeshift pick-up counter was laid out with social distancing markers in the formerly packed out al fresco dining area. Customers awaited their order in silence, or hushed in conversations with their partner, spaced well apart from each other. This was a very different picture to the regular Friday night.
On the opposite side of the road, overlooking the sea, couples and small family groups sat on benches or rugs, at the required social distance, eating their takeaway meals and watching the moonlight filtering over the waves, lapping the shore.
It was another life, but it was okay. Not ideal, but it had a beauty all of its own, even a little nostalgic or romantic perhaps.
It begs the question as to how much of a virtual lifestyle we can lead?
Is it possible for human beings to live like this, at all?
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
If you think of yourself as the best thing since sliced bread, that will become your reality.
Likewise, if you think you are broken, or a failure, then in all likelihood, you will feel broken and miserable.
If you feel you have some faults but are working hard to improve them, you might also feel differently.
Individual thoughts become your reality.
If you feel the future is hopeless, it is extremely hard to find a solution.
Even if your reality is realistic and accurate, intrusive thoughts have a way of sneaking into our mental vocabulary. Ann Koplow had some great pointers to remedy those. Perhaps it is useful strategies for all of us?
Challenge Labels. If you label yourself negatively, such as “a fool” or “a loser,” remind yourself that such absolute terms are subjective and meaningless, and that human beings are too complex to be reduced that simplistically. Also, consider the possibility that somebody else may have given you that idea about yourself, and that they were wrong.
Reality testing. Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and concerns are realistic or true. This is a particularly effective response to the distortion of mind-reading.
Thought stopping. If you notice an unhelpful thought, cut it off immediately. Typical techniques include visualizing a big stop sign, saying “STOP!” to yourself, and giving yourself a sensory cue (e.g. snapping a rubber band you wear around your wrist). A “gentler” version of this is to notice an unhelpful thought and tell yourself, “That’s just a thought.”