Last night, instead of going to bed, I decided to read through my old posts to make sure I was thoroughly sleep-deprived today. I noticed that most of my posts of late were about my attempts to practice self-compassion. And I noticed that it’s working.
I know this because I haven’t had anyone tell me that I’m being too hard on myself. I made it through last semester without crashing and burning. I didn’t get depressed. I enjoyed the holidays. I enjoyed being around my family. I didn’t spend my break obsessing about my inability to go to bed early. I spent a week at home alone while I was sick and focused on taking care of myself rather than trying to be productive.
And I noticed that compassion is contagious. My last post, in which I gave myself permission to be angry after a friend attacked me for teaching compassion, elicited the most comments ever. Readers validated my anger. They shared their own difficulties in talking to others about their suffering. They thanked me for writing this post and for the work that I do. It helped to alleviate some of the pain. It was proof that compassion really is the best remedy for unkindness.
Practicing compassion has changed my interactions with others, too. On Monday, MLK Day, I went to the bank at the local grocery store and was surprised to see that it was open on a federal holiday. I asked the teller if this was a new thing, and he said that only in-store banks were open. I felt bad for him that he had to work on a holiday–even though it’s not a holiday where I work, either. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but for some reason I said, ” Wow. That sucks, huh?”
He burst out laughing. Even though I wasn’t trying to be funny. (Even though ordinarily I think I’m hilarious.) And it changed our interaction. Before it was a typical business transaction. Afterwards it was something that made us both feel better. I thought about it for the rest of the day, and it made me feel good to know that I made him laugh. It still makes me happy to think about it.
What if people made a point of being compassionate, even when they are angry at themselves or someone else? What if, instead of spreading negativity, we validated how hard it is to be human, with all our faults and feelings and pain and suffering? Wouldn’t that be a great experiment? Just to see if it makes a difference?
On February 20, you can find out. Bloggers are invited to publish a post about compassion on that day to flood the blogosphere with kindness. If you’re interested in learning more about this event, check out this post. You can “like” 1000 Voices of Compassion on Facebook here. If you’re interested in posting something on compassion that day, use the hashtag #1000speak to promote this event.
Hope to see you there!