The concept of compassionate thoughts is responding primarily to suffering. In Eastern thought, true happiness is based on two concepts – desiring no suffering or pain in our own lives and wishing no pain or suffering for others.
Experiencing our own pain or suffering may be easy. Experiencing and responding to other’s pain may be challenging. Our “others” in the world are a combination of individuals who are close to us and who we love and cherish, those who love and cherish us back, strangers who we have not created a judgment call on so therefore are neutral, and those who we have hurt us or who are challenging to connect with in a genuine, loving manner.
In our daily lives and activities, we come across our “others” from the moment we arouse. We may awake with our significant other, get our children ready for school, Skype our in-laws to check on them, chase the garbage collectors on the street to come back and pick up one more bag, drive to work and avoid a near collision, meet the tired, out-going shift at work, receive directives from our manager and so on through the day of interacting at some level with the “others.”
During the day we may greet others with a “Good Morning” or “Good Day” or sometimes “Hope you are having a fabulous day!” On emails we may sign off with “Best wishes”, “Many blessings” or “May you have wonderful Monday!”
What are we doing with these greetings and affirmations? We are doing more than just breaking the ice or bridging an uncomfortable moment. We are in essence practicing loving – kindness and wishing the best for that person.
To build our compassion, we can actively practice loving-kindness to promote positive affirmations and acknowledgement of our human interconnectedness. It’s generally easy to practice loving-kindness to those we love and are emotionally close to. It may be a bit more uncomfortable for some to practice loving-kindness to a difficult boss, a challenging, dramatic co-worker, or the postal worker who has left your package at your neighbor’s house for the third time.
So, a daily challenge. For one day, or maybe one hour, as you connect with others in the phone, email, on the road or at the checkout counter at the supermarket, shut off the judgment center of your brain that may determine who receives a loving-kindness thought and/or greeting. Intentionally share a deep, personal, verbal expression of loving-kindness to bring you, as Rick Hanson in Buddha’s Brain suggests, into the loving circle of “us.”
May you have a wonderful day!