A Passion for Compassion: 8 Thoughts to Kick Start Compassion

Compassion says, “I know how you feel.”

“Both friend and enemy reside within us. One lives by the rule of compassion, the other by the rule of hard knocks. Though potential influence of either extreme is inevitable, our actions bear witness to the one we embrace.” –T.F. Hodge

It’s simple really: What makes you feel more authentic and genuine; when you reach out to hug someone or when you wait for someone to hug you first? What if we dropped our defenses and just reached out first? What are we so afraid of?

The dictionary defines compassion as a feeling of deep sympathy and/or sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

That definition sounds tragic but it is exactly what I did today. I met a former co-worker while at the grocery store and she told me about another former co-worker who is going through an awful health tragedy with her husband. I came home and immediately wrote out a card to her acknowledging her and her husband and express to her that she may never need my help in any physical way but that I am here to do whatever I can and to let her know that the one thing I could do for her right away was keep her and her family in my prayers.

Is it true that the only way for compassion to show itself is in the presence of a tragedy?  What is a tragedy? Each of us has days when even the most mundane of bad news or events can be perceived as a tragedy. Perspective makes it so. What I find really comforting is that although we may not go through universal life experiences all at the same time, we do go through universal life experiences at some point in each of our lives. Knowing that someone out there has experienced the feelings I am going through right now is of great comfort but would be of even greater comfort if I found a way to connect with the person who would understand. By reaching out and asking for help or by reaching out and saying to someone, “I know how you feel”, connects us on a human level that no other species can do.

“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” –Mahatma Gandhi

I just have to say that bowing in prayer may be the simplest act of kindness when doing something physically is not possible. Kindness shows itself in so many ways. Do something, don’t do nothing at all.

I was walking out of an art supply store the other day and a mom was looking around the parking lot with her daughter in tow. She was confused because the bakery that they usually stop at on their Sunday errands was no longer there. Her voice sounded so distressed. It was really back ground noise to me at that moment because my mind was consumed with thoughts of how to make the next story time project really fun and exciting for my little library visitors.

As I was walking back to my car I replayed the distant voice in my head and let my ears hear what was going on around me. It just so happened that this mom and I passed each other in perfect synchrony and I was able to tell her exactly where the bakery had moved to. You really wouldn’t believe how incredibly thankful and relieved she was to know that not only did the bakery not go out of business but that she knew exactly where it had moved to once I asked her about her bearings.

Clearly there was no real life shattering suffering or sorrow going on regarding the woman and the bakery however, the distress in her voice and the way it touched my heart was enough to draw out empathy and compassion.

Children are really great at compassion. What comes to mind for you when you think about how children show compassion? Who is their go to receiver of compassion? There are 2 actually. The first is a favorite doll or stuffed toy and the second is animals. If you want to get to know the heart of a child and how to cultivate and mature their compassion watch them with these 2 receivers. In most cases it is a natural occurrence. Sharing with another child is not necessarily a natural occurrence but compassion is an inherent human quality and with proper nurturing, practice and encouragement it can root itself in the hearts of children and grow and mature as they mature. What a wonderful world that would be.

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL

Each life experience we go through creates a connection to someone else; a sense of commonality, whether we know the person or not. We create connection through our flaws, mistakes, humanity, solidarity, and understanding. We are more able to see into the nature of love and suffering all at once simply because we live and learn and feel.

David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University and a co-author of “Out of Character: Surprising Truths about the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us” conducted a compassion study. The results were positive and uplifting. “The results of this study suggest that the compassion we feel for others is not solely a function of what befalls them; if our minds draw an association between a victim and ourselves, even a relatively trivial one, the compassion we feel for his or her suffering is amplified greatly. Simply learning to mentally re-categorize one another in terms of commonalities would generate greater empathy among all of us and foster social harmony in a fairly effortless way.”

Have you lost someone special? I was told a story about a man that lost his mom not long ago. He was very close to her and not having her in his life now, especially now that he has young children, has been a heartache that is at times too much to bear. Who among us cannot find commonality in a story like that? Even if you have not lost a mom or dad or that special someone you can put yourself in the shoes of the person that is grieving and wish to alleviate the pain or be a help through it.

And what of self-compassion?

I recently had a birthday and my family wanted very much to celebrate me while I did not feel like celebrating. My self-compassion was quite low at the time but I am the kind of person that doesn’t like to disappoint people, especially people I love so we put a plan together and made a night of it. We had a great time and it felt fantastic to smile and laugh and let go. I realized that it was wrong for me to treat my family with the same lack of enthusiasm as I was treating myself. I was glad for the awareness to put someone else’s needs above my own even though it was hard to feel inside of myself for myself. After all, isn’t compassion just another word for love, kindness, curiosity, empathy, tenderness and presence?

“Unfortunately we treat others as we treat ourselves. We should try being genuinely kind to ourselves and the rest will come naturally, like a Platinum Rule; far greater than a Golden Rule.” –Erica Goros

Simple gestures like when someone holds the door open for you or stops to pick up something you might have dropped or lets you cut in front of them on the express grocery line because you don’t have as many items to check out as they do. Those are small acts of compassion; knowing what it feels like and hoping to alleviate the negative. Just like going to the gym to maintain physical health and well-being compassion, when practiced regularly can be cultivated and maintained with amazing internal benefits. Sure, it may feel awkward at first but give it a month and see how you feel inside and what manifests itself on the outside. I predict you’ll be hooked and have a passion for compassion.

Suffering in any way is inevitable and I daresay necessary. Without suffering on any level we would not appreciate kindness, love, connectedness and compassion. The enemies of suffering are outnumbered and outmanned by compassion. Will you become an enemy of suffering or an ally?

Here is a short example of what I mean. What can you do to show compassion/kindness?

 8 Thoughts to live by

Start where you find your own sense of compassion. You will never know how much deeper your compassion can grow until you start to plant your own seeds.

“Compassion is not a virtue, it is a commitment. It is not something we have or don’t have, it is something we choose to practice.” –Dr. Brene` Brown

Open your heart. A closed heart can never grow and an open heart can never close.

“I could really use someone else’s smile today.” –Richelle Goodrich

Once you realize that other people matter you have created compassion.

“The solution to nearly every problem in the world comes down to greater awareness, compassion, and empathy.” – Bryant McGill

I’m here for you.

“Three of the ten principles governing the City of Joy are:

-Tell the truth

– Stop waiting to be rescued

– Give away what you want the most.” – Eve Ensler, In the Body of the World: A Memoir

Call to Action

How can you start to grow your compassion?

When in your life have you had a passion for compassion?

What experiences have you had that let you know compassion was alive and well?

Where do you witness compassion most?

Who hugs first? Where does the hug start from, the heart or the head?

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building character strengths, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

 

 

4 Powerful Ways to make a Soul Connection

0001Black Swans

How do you receive messages from the universe?

In what ways do you stop what you are doing to listen to the messages?

Where in your body do you feel connected to the messages being sent to you?

How do you show gratitude for the messages?

“Gracious acceptance is an art…..an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving….. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him/her to express his/her feelings for you.” –Alexander McCall Smith

For me, messages come along every day. I hear them in simple quotes that come along just at the “right” time, I hear them in lyrics to a song especially when I’ve heard the song many times but THIS time I am really listening, I hear them in certain words that people use that get my attention, I hear them in stories that clients tell me or stories that I read, or when emotion and energy are high. These messages are the ones that let me know that I am about to learn something and really need to pay attention.

I recently met someone that my soul connected with quickly and deeply. I wasn’t looking for this kind of connection and I wasn’t prepared for it when it came. I remember saying to this person upon our first face to face encounter how weird I was feeling at the moment we hugged “hello” because I felt like I had known him all my life. I felt peaceful and alive. I was easily able to maintain eye contact with him during the entire time we were in conversation, I was not distracted at all by what was going on around me, I recognized little things we had in common, passions for causes larger than ourselves that were in complete synchronicity to our life purposes, we connected in the same kind of spiritual/life language that each of us spoke and our curiosity about life itself seemed very much aligned. It was powerful for me because I had never known a connection like this in my life.

The connection for me was undeniable and I know it will stay with me forever.  I’d like to believe that the purpose for our encounter was to exchange an energy vibration that we each needed to recognize in order to move forward with our own life purpose. We are not friends or colleagues or acquaintances. As quickly as the connection was made it was gone. We were just two souls passing through each other’s lives for an oh so brief moment and I believe that the purpose was to leave a message. For me the message was to stay open, live with passion, receive with humility and gratitude, consider everything that comes my way and pay it forward and to find the love, endlessly, in everything I do.

“To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie onto the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.” –Oscar Wilde

A soul connection doesn’t happen very often, at least not for me. It’s kind of like when Bugs Bunny knew in his body that a carrot was beneath his feet and his whole being would vibrate and shake and tremor. Do you remember that cartoon episode? That was a soul connection; no doubt, no hesitation, no second guessing. He was so in tune with his own soul vibrations that he knew to trust it when it showed up that strongly.

Perhaps you have had a similar experience like when you catch a suspended moment in a stranger’s eyes or when you seem to easily strike up a conversation with someone when you know well that making small talk is not your strongest character strength. I believe that you were recognizing the other person’s amazing beauty and vibration. You found a comfort in their soul and connected to it right away. These micro moments of recognition, of messages that are trying to reach your soul are so powerful and everlasting that you are changed forever. The universe is speaking to you, asking you to be present, to notice, to stay open, and to recognize your own beauty and vibration because you matter too.

“Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, Amen.” –George Saunders

Listening to your soul vibrations, making a soul connection to the messages that are being sent to you is a practice worth strengthening. Very often we block out the messages that come to us for reasons like we don’t feel deserving, or we don’t want to hear that particular message or we were taught at a young age to stay focused on what is right in front of us….not to read too much into things, etc.

What would happen if we stopped to smell the roses, to savor the moment a message was sent?

How much more connected to our soul, our inner voice would we be?

What beauty would we find with this new, enlightened realization that the message was trying to send?

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” –Dr. Brene` Brown

The soul connection I felt to this new person that swiftly breezed through my life was a strong vibration that forced me to take notice. It opened up words inside of me that have been sitting at the surface of my soul but for some reason I was denying their existence. Words like reverence, awe, grace, spirituality, forgiveness, wonder, and self-worth. These are scary words for me to delve into. Each one of them is asking me to face demons that I feel I am not ready to face. But what if the message is that the universe feels that I am ready to face these words? What happens if I keep denying them? What happens if I open up each word one at a time and discover their power and their soul and make a connection?

So, that is what I am going to do. I am going to open each word and learn more about myself, about connection, and about how to use these amazing words to strengthen my existence and purpose.

I am starting with soul connections because that is the strongest feeling and word combination that has attached to me. Each of us has a unique energy or vibration that we live with and that lives within us.

Sometimes we let it drain out of us when we are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, lonely or unlovable. Sometimes we feel an abundance of energy and find it hard to contain. We may have recently had a lot of good things happen or we may be awakening to a new understanding or awareness that has changed our lives from the inside out and we feel compelled to connect with people of the same energy and awareness. I think that most of the time we live in a steady stream of energy that when honed properly guides us through our day to day and helps us make decisions and connections.

Have you ever noticed how you feel connected to someone romantically but not to everyone you meet?

Have you ever noticed how you feel connected to someone with a bit more compassion than normal, or clarity about their story, or playfulness or negativity?

Have you ever noticed feeling connected to someone but not recognizing connection back from them?

What were you meant to connect about?

Each soul connection vibrates your own energy toward that person’s own energy. Some people are meant to stay within a soul connection for a long time and some are meant to stay only for a short time but each connection serves a purpose. We may never know the true purpose but I believe that staying open to allowing those connections to be made and then knowing when to let go is very important. I don’t believe in empty soul connections. I may not feel the same energy connection toward someone that has a strong energy connection to me but that doesn’t mean that my purpose in their life is meaningless or vice versa. I do believe that when the purpose is served the relationship will end and we will both be better for having made that connection, if we allow for that learning and awareness.

So how do you begin to create awareness toward a soul connection?

Here are 4 ways that have helped me to create connection:

Live with intention:

“You’ve been given the innate power to shape your life….but you cannot just speak change, you have to LIVE change. Intent paired with action builds the bridge to success. You can’t just want it; you have to do it, live it… BE it! Success isn’t something you have, it’s something you DO! – Steve Maraboli

My soul connection came about because my intention was to network with people who had the same intention as I do to help bring about a positive change, one person at a time. Had I not taken the leap of faith and initiated the conversation, the connection, then none of this would be possible.

Ask for connection through the universe and through reaching out to other people:

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —  Maya Angelou

As I mentioned above, I reached out. I made the connection live through declaring my intention to connect. I always ask the universe to please guide me to the people that can help me so that I can then in turn help them. Every person I meet has the potential to connect me to the next person and get me to where I want to go. I know when I’ve connected positively because the feedback is intense and positive.

Seek out attributes in other people, places and activities that make you feel alive:

“Seek out that particular attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice that says, ‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attribute, follow it.” –William James

This is an on-going process for me. I am always looking for ways to expand my knowledge, my connections, and my tribe. I try to look for people and groups and activities that are of the same thought processes and intentions as mine. I believe more soul connections are possible if I surround myself with people who think about the world and see the world the way I do or hope to. However, there is always something to learn from those that exist outside of our own attributes. Staying open and curious will always lead to some stage of enlightenment.

Leave something behind that your soul can connect to when it goes to the next plane of existence:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies…something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die…It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” –Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

This to me is one of the ultimate ways in which we make soul connections that last not only in this life plane but carries over to every other life plane that our soul has. Great examples are the souls of my children. I have endless, as far as I know, opportunity to change and shape and mold their souls from the way it was when they were born into something that is a reflection of my existence when my hands, my heart, my words are taken away. The same holds true when someone says to you that you are unforgettable. You have left a seed of yourself in their soul to last through infinity. What could be better than that?

Call to Action

Make a list of ways in which you can start to create intention toward making soul connections. Take small, meaningful steps toward bringing your intention to life. Recognize when a connection is grabbing your attention. Take time to notice where in your body you feel connected and notice how you feel. What words come up for you at that moment? How can you use those words to create more intention and pay it forward?

Good luck. I hope our souls meet someday…..

Journey On…..

If you would like to explore more about making soul connections or would like to learn how to activate your intentions toward purpose please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by sending an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

 

 

Journey On…..

railroad

“Perfectly Imperfect”

We have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike. Each snowflake takes the perfect form for the maximum efficiency and effectiveness for its journey. And while the universal force of gravity gives them a shared destination, the expansive space in the air gives each snowflake the opportunity to take their own path. They are on the same journey, but each takes a different path.
Along this gravity-driven journey, some snowflakes collide and damage each other, some collide and join together, some are influenced by wind… there are so many transitions and changes that take place along the journey of the snowflake. But, no matter what the transition, the snowflake always finds itself perfectly shaped for its journey.
I find parallels in nature to be a beautiful reflection of grand orchestration. One of these parallels is of snowflakes and us. We, too,  are all headed in the same direction. We are being driven by a universal force to the same destination. We are all individuals taking different journeys and along our journey, we sometimes bump into each other, we cross paths, we become altered… we take different physical forms. But at all times we too are 100% perfectly imperfect. At every given moment we are absolutely perfect for what is required for our journey. I’m not perfect for your journey and you’re not perfect for my journey, but I’m perfect for my journey and you’re perfect for your journey. We’re heading to the same place, we’re taking different routes, but we’re both exactly perfect the way we are.
Think of what understanding this great orchestration could mean for relationships. Imagine interacting with others knowing that they too each share this parallel with the snowflake. Like you, they are headed to the same place and no matter what they may appear like to you, they have taken the perfect form for their journey. How strong our relationships would be if we could see and respect that we are all perfectly imperfect for our journey.”
―     Steve Maraboli,     Life, the Truth, and Being Free    

Where did you find the beauty in your journey today?

How can you embrace your imperfectness?

Where did you choose to travel today? Was it the same road you take everyday or did you treat yourself to new sights and sounds along the routine of your day?

How else can you be perfectly imperfect for your own journey? How else can you make it more of your own orchestration?