#42 Develop More Empathy

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#42

Develop More Empathy

Empathy plays a major roles in our ability to be socially competent. It is a key trait found in healthy relationships. None of us can exist on our own. Societies thrive when their citizens embrace the values of helping one another. While it’s true that we are all responsible for our own actions, it can be easy to forget just how much the desire to understand others and to work on their behalf matters also.

Benefits for Those Who Give

When we think of being empathetic and doing compassionate deeds, our emphasis is usually on what the person in need, or who is receiving the assistance, gets. It’s rare to look at what you can gain through working on behalf of someone else. Of course, you get the satisfaction and warm feeling of helping. It’s an increase in feel-good neurochemicals that leads to this. Performing compassionate deeds lowers our levels of stress and improves our health.

Empathy for others influences our social growth and competence, as well. Such actions force you to look beyond yourself and broaden your perspectives. Doing so can lessen your own emotional issues such as depression and anxiety. Reaching out to others in times of need builds social connections and enhances interpersonal skills necessary for healthy relationships.  

What Receivers Gain

Those on the receiving end of your empathetic efforts gain the sense that others care, which can go a long way toward improving overall mental outlook and sense of self. They gain trust in the outside world and feel seen. When others show compassion, it can lead receivers to believe that they are being perceived as worthwhile and of value. They feel more trusting and are often more motivated to work toward self-improvement goals.

We never know how the empathy we express may affect the person who receives it and I’m not sure we can have too much empathy as long as we are establishing healthy boundaries along the way. Empathy, compassion, and perspective work hand in hand to make great relationships better. If you’re seeking more growth you can work to….

Develop more empathy.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#104 Ditch Gossip

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#104

Ditch Gossip

If you’re human, you’ve probably – at least once in your lifetime – participated in a round of gossip. By definition, gossip is the “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others”. It is differentiated from asking a friend if they’ve ‘run into’ another… or asking about the welfare of a joint acquaintance. It’s speaking about someone’s life without explicit permission to do so.

Hurtful

By speaking about things that are considered private or deeply personal, we are likely to insult or hurt the targeted individual even if that wasn’t the intent. It may promote shame for that person and ignite feelings that lead to depression, helplessness, and sadly… even suicide. Gossip can injure esteem and confidence. It can lead to feelings of loneliness and cause people to isolate further. It often leads to embarrassment when someone’s private business becomes the focus of outsiders. The anxiety that results can paralyze.

Breach of Trust

When we gossip for the sake of having something to say, we breach the trust that others have in us for keeping their secrets. How many times have you questioned whether or not someone is talking about you the way they are talking about another? If they are willing to betray the interest of John Doe, what keeps them from doing the same to you? How do we build respect for someone that breaches trust? Without trust and respect, how is a relationship sustained?

Do Unto Others

Do you want your personal and private affairs to be the center of discussion between people not involved? If you think that may be bothersome, make the effort to change your energy into something more productive and compassionate. Make a conscious decision to …

Ditch Gossip.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#133 Practice Loving Kindness

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#133

Practice Loving Kindness

The practice of loving kindness stems from the Buddhist practice of the Metta prayer. It’s a specific method of meditating that promotes compassion for others and for the self. It’s easy, and it makes a difference.

Love

The essence of a loving kindness meditation is to conjure up a sensation of deep love, of significant loving energy and then metaphorically – send that love out into the universe toward humanity as a whole or to specific people. There are a number of amazing websites (linked below) and YouTube videos that can walk you through in a guided meditation as you get started.

Imagery

As in many other mental health wellness practices, loving kindness utilizes imagery. It is suggested that as you begin your meditation, you imagine people who love you, surrounding you and sending vibrational hugs toward you until you can essentially feel the loving energy coming from them. You may imagine the swell of love that you felt as you held each of your children or married your spouse. Each of the meditations begins from this place – deep in the experience of sensing love.

Well Wishes

Each phrase found in most scripts begins with “may you…/may I”. The concept is that while in an envelope of loving energy, you send some of it out or reflect it back you yourself in phrases that represent wishes.

“May you feel loved, may you be happy, may you be healthy’

“May you find acceptance, may you feel joy, may you live with ease”

In each phrase, the “you” can be replaced with “I” for the experience of self-compassion.

The objective is to build upon the empathy and compassion that is an innate element of your spirit. The more you practice, the more it grows.

Peace

Those who cultivate a practice of loving kindness speak about the sense of inner peace that develops over time. It is attributed to a deeper sense of happiness. It works to evaporate anger, resentment, and past pains. It becomes a coping mechanism for those times when our humanity loses perspective and emotions become overwhelming.

There is much benefit for you personally, for those people you love, and for the collective consciousness that comprises our universe when you commit to …

Practice loving kindness

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Mindful

The EI Institute

CMind

#148 Read a book about History

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#148

Read a book about History

Was History a class that you zoned out on in High School or College? Did you resist listening to the story about Christopher Columbus or Napoleon for the umpteenth time after awhile? Have you ever found yourself wishing you knew more about certain time periods now that you are an adult and perhaps more traveled?

Fiction or Non?

Learning about history can be accomplished in a variety of ways but reading a book that is either biographical in nature, a factual presentation of historical data, or a historical novel can offer a great perspective and tons of information you never knew you’d actually find interesting.

Outside of reading about Mary Todd Lincoln and fantasizing about being able to wear hoop skirts, my interest in historical information was minimal until I became an adult. Interestingly, it was my love of historical fiction and generational novels that enticed a wider interest in other time periods and I’m not sure I gave it much significance until Downton Abbey rekindled my interest in the fashions of the late 1800’s – shortly after hoops were removed from the skirts of ladies dresses.

Emotional Investment

Since then, and perhaps in tandem with a couple of visits to Europe in recent years, my interest in history has bloomed. I’ve enjoyed the fiction of Ken Follett and Edward Rutherford – both authors who create magical fictional characters against the backdrop of actual events. I am able to imagine the depth and breadth of those moments far better than a college history lecture when I am emotionally invested in the characters who are being invaded by the Nords, grieving a war loss, or losing their fortune in a market crash.

Biographies

Biographies are another way to establish an emotional connection to a character; one who is historical in their own right. These books are stories as well as factual (in most cases) accounts that are shared in the context of the person’s life – mostly historical. The need for environmental context is almost always present and so we are introduced to this person in relation to their historical surroundings, often giving us a front seat view of an event we read out in the paper or in a textbook at some point.

Politics

Maybe even more recently, I am intrigued by political history and as they say, “history repeats itself” (I know this to be true with firsthand experience in fashion and furniture design) so I search archived accounts of leaders who demonstrated attributes similar to our current president. I think I am looking for hope.

Perspective

History gives us perspective. The older you get, the more you realize that humans don’t change that dramatically from generation to generation – at least not from those things that make us human – behavior and intention. We may do different things but our motivation is often similar – allowing us to experience compassion and empathy when we look backwards. It can also promote deep gratitude; for the people who came before us – their struggle, efforts, and intent.

We can always be learning and growing. One of the ways to do that is to…

Read a book about history.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#160 Practice Mindful Compassion

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#160

Practice Mindful Compassion

One of the ‘new’ buzzwords in psychotherapy is ‘mindful compassion’. It’s not new really… Buddhists have been practicing mindful compassion for thousands of years and one might even argue that most prayer regiments are akin to this practice. Mindful compassion is the specific expression of empathy, goodwill, and compassion towards oneself and/or others. It’s learning how to extend a deep level of compassion, without judgment, to oneself or to others.

Imagine

Think for a moment of how you would comfort a child who has just lost his mother. Imagine that child sitting on your lap in a deep state of sadness and you are helpless to ‘fix’ the problem. Your only comfort can be a deep level of empathy and compassion for the pain that this child feels. Now, imagine that you can generate this same level of compassion for yourself each time you experience emotional discomfort or send that compassionate energy – via thought waves – to another human who may be suffering.

Extend It

This level of comforting – this extension of deep compassion – can be very healing. Cultivating an ability to self-sooth is the focus of new treatments for anxiety and depression. It is also a wonderful way to begin each day – extending compassionate ‘vibes’ to people in your life who may benefit from a little extra love.

Doing so is quite easy if you sit quietly and imagine yourself in a state of deep compassion; going to your core. Next, create an image of the person you want to send energy to… and offer these words:

“May you be well; May you be happy; May you be free from suffering”

Spend 5 minutes in that space, sending love and energy to one or more people – or even yourself. Practicing this on a daily basis will not only increase your personal depth of compassion, it will calm you, build inner peace, and increase the endorphins that are associated with acts of benevolence.

Learn More

This suggestion is a mere blip of an introduction to mindful compassion and I encourage you to investigate leading teachers and practitioners such as Sharon Salzberg, Kristin Neff, Paul Gilbert, or Christopher Germer, just to name a few.

Benefits

This is one of those ‘tips’ that anyone can do; requires no tools; is completely FREE; benefits others; improves mental health; and can be accomplished anytime – anywhere. It may be a perfect activity! So, sit quietly for a few minutes and let the sun shine on your face as you close your eyes and …

Practice mindful compassion.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#298 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#298

Volunteer

If you regularly volunteer for an organization or a person … Thanks for all you do and come back tomorrow to read the next tip! If you do NOT regularly volunteer – THIS post is for you!

It is often said that when we offer our time and/or talent to a person or a cause, we are engaging in our truest purpose. We believe that when we volunteer, we are experiencing selflessness at its highest point and yet… there are so many individual and personal benefits that perhaps it serves the deepest purpose of self.

You see, when we donate time and talent, we are opening ourselves to experiences that grow our spirit, our strengths, and our hearts. Sometimes, the value is much more significant to the person who helps than to the receiver. Benefits include growth in compassion, strengths, empathy, purpose, and esteem. When we expose ourselves to new ideas, new people, and new experiences we expand our hearts; a benefit that has long lasting impact.

For maximum impact, it’s necessary to volunteer in an area that is of interest. A population that inspires you or a project that connects with your passion. Whether it is working with an animal shelter, building homes, or interacting with youth – make sure it is something that motivates continued participation.

Volunteering fosters happiness and leads to longer life expectancy. It deepens our skill sets, strengthens our weaknesses, and improves our overall outlook on life. What’s not to love? It is a win-win endeavor for everyone involved. If you’re looking for a way to improve your mood or your quality of life, it may be as simple as looking for a space where your time and talent is used as you …

Volunteer.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.