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Practicing Compassion

by Beth on January 6th, 2017

Gretchen Rubin suggests starting each new year by “identifying one idea, often summarized in just one word, as an overarching theme for the entire year.” I think this is a great idea, so I’m choosing “compassion” as my word for 2017. I have spent the last several years practicing mindfulness and gratitude in order to boost my well-being. Intentionally focusing on these practices has helped to rewire my brain so that being present and being grateful now come more naturally to me.

Compassion is another practice that enhances well-being by reducing stress, frustration, and anger. When you are compassionate, you offer love to all beings. This includes yourself, people you like, and even people you don’t like. I expect this will be a bit more difficult than mindfulness and gratitude, but I know it is important. Studies show that compassion is linked to greater happiness and higher levels of cognitive functioning.

I plan to do 3 things in order to be more compassionate in 2017:

  • I will include loving kindness meditation in my daily meditation practice. I will start each meditation sending loving wishes to myself, then to people I care about, then to people I don’t like, and then to everyone.
  • I will extend love to people I encounter throughout the day. I will try to feel compassion for the person who cuts me off in traffic, for the really slow check-out attendant at the grocery store, and for the service agent at Toyota who tells me the needed repairs will cost $650. I will remind myself that they are like me; everyone wants to be safe, healthy, loved, and happy.
  • I will practice self-compassion. I’m going to pay attention to my self-talk. When I catch myself being self-critical, I will replace those thoughts with something kind. I will also practice self-compassion by eating a healthier diet. Eating more foods that are good for me is one of the best ways I can show myself love.

What about you? Think of one thing you would like to focus on in order to increase your well-being this year and make it your word for 2017. Let me know what you choose!

P.S. I just bought a bracelet with the word “compassion” on it to remind me of my intention! Get yours at myintent.org.

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