Hello,
 
This week's practice - have compassion - opens the heart, cools anger, and clears the mind. 

It's such a human feeling: not fancy, or reserved for saints alone. A little child trying to wipe away a parent's tear, a soft pat on the back for a friend who's struggling, a look of sympathy for a tired busboy at the end of the night's work, a look of sorrow at pictures of disaster victims on the other side of the world. 

All around us, threads of compassion stitching the world together.

Also, I wanted to share with you an organization - We Stories - that is using the power of children's literature to create more compassion, change and hope, and a stronger more equitable and inclusive future for all. Check out how they inspired hundreds of families to begin talking to their young children about racism, here.

Warmly,

Rick
Just One Thing
Simple practices for resilient happiness.
Do you care?
The Practice:
Have compassion.
Why?
Compassion is essentially the wish that beings not suffer - from subtle physical and emotional discomfort to agony and anguish - combined with feelings of sympathetic concern.

You could have compassion for an individual (a friend in the hospital, a co-worker passed over for a promotion), groups of people (victims of crime, those displaced by a hurricane, refugee children), animals (your pet, livestock heading for the slaughterhouse), and yourself.

Compassion is not pity, agreement, or a waiving of your rights. You can have compassion for people who've wronged you while also insisting that they treat you better.

Compassion by itself opens your heart and nourishes people you care about. Those who receive your compassion are more likely to be patient, forgiving, and compassionate with you. Compassion reflects the wisdom that everything is related to everything else, and it naturally draws you into feeling more connected with all things.

Additionally, compassion can incline you to helpful action. For example, one study showed that motor circuits in the brain lit up when people were feeling compassionate, as if they were getting ready to do something about the suffering they were sensing.

How?
Compassion is natural; you don't have to force it; just open to the difficulty, the struggle, the stress, the impact of events, the sorrow and strain in the other person; open your heart, let yourself be moved, and let compassion flow through you.

Feel what compassion's like in your body - in your chest, throat, and face. Sense the way it softens your thoughts, gentles your reactions. Know it so you can find your way back again.

Moments of compassion come in the flow of life - maybe a friend tells you about a loss, or you can see the hurt behind someone's angry face, or a hungry child looks out at you from the pages of a newspaper.

Also, you can deliberately call in compassion a minute (or more), perhaps each day; here are a few suggestions:
  • Relax and tune into your body.
  • Remember the feeling of being with someone who cares about you.
  • Bring to mind someone it is easy to feel compassion for.
  • Perhaps put your compassion into words, softly heard in the back of your mind, such as: "May you not suffer . . . may this hard time pass . . . may things be alright for you."
  • Expand your circle of compassion to include others; consider a benefactor (someone who has been kind to you), friend, neutral person, difficult person (a challenge, certainly), and yourself (sometimes the hardest person of all).
  • Going further, extend compassion to all the beings in your family . . . neighborhood . . . city . . . state . . . country . . . world. All beings, known or unknown, liked or disliked. Humans, animals, plants, even microbes. Beings great or small, in the air, on the ground, under water. Including all, omitting none.
Going through your day, open to compassion from time to time for people you don't know: someone in a deli, a stranger on a bus, crowds moving down the sidewalk.

Let compassion settle into the background of your mind and body. As what you come from, woven into your gaze, words, and actions.

Omitting none.
JUST ONE THING (JOT) is the free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week for more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.
A small thing repeated routinely adds up over time to produce big results.

Just one thing that could change your life.
(© Rick Hanson, 2017)
This comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., psychologist, New York Times best-selling author, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard universities. See Rick's workshops and lectures. 

Taught by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., the Foundations of Well-Being online program uses powerful science-based methods to hardwire lasting happiness into your brain and your life.  Turn everyday experiences into a deep sense of contentment, love, and peace, in just an hour a week.