“A human being is part of the whole called by us ‘universe’ – a part limited in time and space. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein
I am not sure how you are feeling about this time of challenge and heartbreak but it has felt like quite the doozy to me. Every where it seems that there is very polarized thinking occurring. It feels like there is a lot of anger, hate and fear brewing. Families and friends are arguing about the current state of the nation. Innocent people are being harmed because of their sexuality, race and class. You maybe wondering what you can do to change this and feel disempowered. What I am suggesting that we all work on is to use compassion instead of hate. Here are 5 ways to use gratitude and compassion to change what you world feels like right now and survive these challenging times:
1) Realize that the only way to create change is through compassion and education
Many of the choices that humans make are based on fear, it is not really our fault, our mammalian brain is wired this way. If we want to create change in the world we must let go of fear and use our rational mind to make our decisions. People who have a hard time living this way are not skilled in having compassion and lack empathy. The only way we can create change is by talking about our concerns and talk to one another.
We must see one another not by how we look, the color or our skin, who we sleep with, or how much money we have we are all people. Remember fear is created by a lack of understanding and empathy for another person. When you have a disagreement try to see the other person’s perspective. Let go of ego. Teach people about your experiences, listen to other people’s experiences. This is education when we share our experiences. We change the world this way. We become united when we do this.
Allow people to be where they are and be kind. Validate their experience, share yours. Listen to one another.
To often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia
2) If someone is challenging be grateful for the lesson
Usually when we have a problem with someone it is because they represent an aspect of ourself that we do not accept and/or have not forgiven. We may feel that they could do better or that if they would just do it our way then there would be no problem. This is not allowing a person to be themselves and accepting them for who they are.
People who are angry, hurtful and rageful are sick and unskilled. They are like children who never learned what right and wrong is. We must see them this way so that we can develop compassion for them. Each person we interact with in our lives teaches us a lesson in where we need to grow and where we are in synch with the universe. We can not change other people but we can change our reaction to them. Instead of hating them back or attempting to hurt them, we can recognize the seed of anger in them. We can send them well wishes instead of creating more hate, anger or judgement.
Show respect even to those who don’t deserve it, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours. ~Dave Willis
3) When you feel unsafe have compassion for yourself
If you are a minority of some sort you may feel fearful because of the change that occurred last Tuesday. Use the self compassion to combat this. You may wonder what this looks like:
- Validate your feelings.
- Try to see what is working instead of what is not.
- Make a gratitude list.
- Practice self love.
- Write about your feelings
- Make art work about your feelings
- Do a protection meditation
- Do a protection prayer
- Don’t give up and keep going you are a warrior of light be an example of peace, dignity and grace.
- Do a self compassion break
“Accept where you are, accept what you have, accept who you are ~ do what you can with all of that and let it be enough.” ~Nikki Rowe
4) Practice Gratitude daily, not just on Thanksgiving or in the month of November
The practice of gratitude has been show to help reduce pain, improve relationships, help psychological health, improve sleep and improve self concept. Are you wondering how to incorporate it into your daily life? It can be as simple as thinking about 5 things that you are grateful for in the morning and then at night. You can use it as a pick me up in the middle of the day when you are feeling lethargic.
When we practice gratitude it allows us to be in the moment and to illicit the pleasure receptors in our brains which help with pain and psychological health.
Gratitude allows us to see the abundance in our lives instead of lack. When we are happy with what we have we are not living in craving and suffering.
Here are some ideas of how to bring gratitude in your daily life:
- Write a daily gratitude list of 5 things.
- Write a letter to someone that has made an impact in your life.
- Savor your food and be grateful for all the people that it took to bring it to your plate.
- Thank people when they do things for you.
- Trying using positive words instead of negative ones.
- Smile at strangers and say hello
- create art work about gratitude
5) Don’t forget to make room for joy in your life.
When times are dark or challenging we must remember that we have to find the silver lining in things. Sometimes it is about turning off the phone, social media and the news so that we can be present and enjoy our lives by participating in things that bring us joy. Even simple things like going for a walk, looking at the clouds connecting with the environment that you live in.
What brings you joy?
What do you like to do for fun that reconnects you to yourself?
If we make this a daily practice instead of living in fear and worry we can thrive through these challenging times. Finding joy allows you to savor and be grateful for your life. Being connected and grounded in yourself will allow us all to be able to find new ways to thrive and find solutions to the issues that are at hand.
How do you practice gratitude in difficult times? Please comment below. Do you need help with reconnecting with yourself? Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a beautiful week.