#148 Read a book about History

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.