Blog Short #10: 10 Ways to Bring Good into the World and into Your Life
Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you . My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!
Since we’re deep into the holiday season, I thought I would veer away a little bit today from my usual content and focus on what I see are the two big messages of Christmas. If you’re of another faith, or do not participate in a particular spiritual or religious belief system, this will still apply because it’s about us. Human beings. How we behave and what our impact is. So let’s dig in.
I see the two universal messages of this season as Peace and Love. Sounds very 60s, I know, and perhaps I’m showing my age, but these ideas are ageless.
Here’s 5 ways that I think we can all work at expressing these concepts, although they’re more than just concepts. They’re ways of being.
- Be Kind. Kindness is humble and caring, and can be expressed in small gestures. Smiling at a stranger in a grocery store, empathizing with someone who’s suffering, doing something for someone, listening. Really listening. Understanding that we’re all in different stages of our development, and having some tolerance for those differences. Be kind whenever the opportunity presents itself.
- Show Empathy. Empathy is active. It means abandoning your own state of mind for a moment and trying your best to see something through someone else’s emotional and mental lens. It’s not easy and takes practice, but the more you do it the easier it gets. Even when someone has ideas you find distasteful, you can still get inside her head and understand how she got there, or what’s holding her there. Not with an “I’m better than you” attitude, but because you want to see. That doesn’t mean tolerating values you don’t believe in, or allowing destructive behavior. It just means seeing from the inside out.
- Non-harm. This is a practice found in Buddhism and Hinduism called ahimsa. It means avoiding harm to any living being in thought, word and deed. It can be extended to animals, creatures, and even the environment. It’s an approach and a particular way of living, but takes regular practice. If you work at it, you’ll find you have a subtle shift in mindset characterized by inclusivity and compassion.
- Do unto others. We all know this golden rule, but we don’t always follow it. The best way to remember it is to keep in mind that what you do to someone else, you do to yourself. When you really get this idea instilled in your mind, it will help you avoid behavior that’s hurtful. Every thought and act we put out there has an effect, and the overall effect will come back to us. If you spend a lot of energy criticizing, hating, or scorning others, you’re harming yourself as you do it. You’re keeping your mind in a negative and aggressive place, and setting yourself up for the same return treatment. That generally halts me when I go on some negative critical rant in my head about someone who’s bothering me.
- Apply all these to yourself. Be kind to yourself even as you set limits on your behavior. Empathize with your feelings even as you figure out how best to deal with them. Don’t harm yourself emotionally, mentally, or physically. Create habits that are good for you and bring out the best in you. Do unto yourself as you would like others to do unto you.
- Recognize our oneness. We all live on the planet Earth regardless of race, nationality, religion, or political affiliation. If aliens were to attack, watch how fast we’d all come together! Ronald Reagan said this once, and I believe he’s right. Differences are relative to the situation. What we all have in common is our humanity. I believe we also have a collective consciousness which is the conglomerate of everyone’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Make sure your contribution is one of peace, tolerance, and cooperation. That doesn’t mean accepting ideas and behavior that are wrong. It means performing acts of peace, even in acts of resistance.
- Develop inner peace. This one’s the most important one because the more you accomplish this, the easier it is do all the others. My go to for this is regular, daily meditation. You may have some other method or methods, but whatever you find that works, do it regularly. If you’ve never meditated or want to know more about it, read here.
- Attend to your relationships. Being in discord with those you love, or those with whom you have a lot of contact, robs you of peace. Even if you aren’t actively thinking about specific issues, they hang in the background of your awareness and create underlying anxiety. Give some time and attention to your most important relationships. What do you need to work on or repair in this next year? List it. Then decide how you want to go about it. If you’re not sure about the how, then seek counseling to get you started.
- Reduce your stress. This one can be difficult, especially in light of this past year. Depending on your circumstances, make a list of the issues that are causing you the most stress. Select one at a time and work on it. Don’t do them all at one. Just one. Accomplish that, and then move on to the next. As you do this, you’ll create new habits that serve you well. If you want to know more about creating new habits, read Atomic Habits. If the problem is money, read something by Dave Ramsey. You can also consult an expert online, read books, take courses, seek counseling, or just dive in and do what you can. You’ll feel better as soon as you start.
- Remember that nothing is permanent. All circumstances change over time. Whatever’s plaguing you right now will eventually shift. Keeping this in mind will help you deal with the present. What is permanent is your worth, your love, your spirit, your resolve, and your humanness. You can be the peace and love you wish to receive.
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali (or your celebratory choice), and a new season of hope.
All my best,