The way I see it, we all have an inherent capacity to care and connect with the world that surrounds us. It comes down to paying attention with intention. It means valuing our common humanity, appreciating our differences and acknowledging them from a place of humbleness and empathy for how others think and feel. That’s why I am an advocate for mindfulness as a way of being in life. With mindfulness, we are living in the present moment and paying attention to what is happening in the mind, body and external environment in the moment, through acurious and kind lens.
Key to the practice is observing the flow of our inner thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations without judging them as right or wrong. In other words, the practice of compassion for ourselves is paramount. It’s putting this understanding and practice together that we begin to experience greater joy and happiness. We function better, we treat ourselves and others with greater understanding and we see the experience of self as part of the larger experience.
The question becomes what can we do to widen our circle of compassion?
Actually, it already lies within us. We know that making a commitment to try to relieve and prevent the suffering of others is a sure way to feeling good about oneself. People do this every day by making donations, giving up their seat on the subway, or holding a door open for someone, just because. And, there’s power in being in service to others. It gives us a sense of meaning, inspires love and has the power to transform life for ourselves and others. As Oprah Winfrey so aptly put it, “Helping others is the way we help ourselves.” When it comes to a life well lived, being in service to others is the tipping point. It is not only essential to our human relationships, but it shapes us into better human beings and makes the world a kinder place. If it’s true what goes around comes around, then, in my mind, kindness and compassion would be one such practice worth experiencing.
Let today be your day when you think about the small gifts that you can offer and the ripple effect these gifts have on your well-being and your community. Need a few tips?
- Be open to see others as they see themselves.
- Offer a smile to a neighbor or stranger that would otherwise go unnoticed.
- Speak up and advocate for someone in need.
- Hold a door open for someone, just because.
- Call a friend and share a kind word.
- Notice how it feels to give from a caring and kind heart.
- Say thank you.
Theo Koffler is a motivational speaker, author and founder of Mindfulness Without Borders—a charitable organization that facilitates programs and workshops to strengthen social and emotional intelligence and secular mindfulness in youth and the adults that surround them.