"We have a great need to rely on the fact of human goodness. Human goodness seems like an outrageous 'fact'. In these dark times we are confronted daily with mounting evidence of the great harm we so easily do to one another . . . Yet this incessant display of the worst in us makes it essential that we rely on human goodness. Without that belief in each other, there really is no hope . . . What's truly hopeful is that we have the means to evoke more goodness from one another . . . We need each other more than ever before. We need everybody's creativity and caring and open hearts to find our way through. . ."
Turning to One Another
"Take in the good." This is a practice recommended by
Rick Hanson, Ph.D
. which he describes in his books, especially two of them:
Just One Thing and Hardwiring Happiness
. His points are deceptively simple until we remember that our brains are like velcro for negative experiences and teflon for positive experiences. All of the tensions in our current political process
plus horrific tragedies like the mass shootings in Orlando tax our capacity for what we can take in and hold. Indeed we are in a time, like Margaret Wheatley describes, when it is essential for us to rely on human goodness -- our own goodness and the goodness of one another.
Just One Thing
, Hanson enumerates three steps for "taking in the good":
1. Turn good facts into good experiences. Let the good fact
2. Really enjoy the experience. Let it become part of your
3. Intend and sense that the good experience is sinking in to
With these steps in mind, we've recently resurrected an activity that we often used in team-building processes years ago. You may want to do it in your organizations or with your family or friends. Give one another time to "take in the good".
Here's the activity. Give each person a card (eg. 5" x 7"), enough stickers for each person in the circle, and a pen. On the stickers, each person writes something they really appreciate
about the others in the group, including themselves. After everyone has completed a sticker for each person, take turns passing each person's card around the circle. The person whose card is being passed around starts by sharing their own sticker with something that they appreciate about themselves. Then each person gets to hear the facts of their goodness as known by the others in the circle. As you place the stickers on each person's card, give a little explanation or share a little experience about the "good fact". Simple! A simple gift of time to "take in the good", to savor it, and to be encouraged and supported. It's a disarming way to do as Hanson says: "Weave positive experiences into the fabric of your brain and your whole being." I urge people to put their card in a strategic place where they will be reminded often of their goodness.
Taking in the good of ourselves and others is a basic condition of empathy. Listening to
the songs that have come out of the tragedy in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, I like to think of feeling one another's pulse as an ultimate definition of empathy. Obviously, the songs are sung with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in mind. But the words apply to all of us: "I shouldn't have to change who I am . . . Feel my pulse . . . I'm just the same as you are so just feel my pulse . . . With your hand on my heart you know it beats just as hard as yours . . . Feel my pulse."
Pulse by Elie Lieb and Brandon Skeie