Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cultivating Compassion and Connection

Due to internet connection issues this is being published late. Will catch up for next week, hopefully.

In order to have a better world we need to connect with others differently. We must connect with kindness and compassion. But too many people have not been taught to do that. While technology gives us so many new ways to connect, we still aren't really connecting. Family meals, if they still happen with everyone together, are mostly everyone with their smart phones texting. So families aren't even connecting.

So it is up to those of us who want to create a better world to nurture compassion and connection in our families and with others. Children growing up in this age are more and more isolated by technology. Face time with warm bodies is less  and less time for them. I see parents on their phones when with their little kids and I wonder if they will grow up without knowing how to relate to others without a phone or ipad. Will they know how to converse with other people that are right there with them?

So we need to begin modeling connection. Limit the amount of time you spend on your phone or computer when you are with your children. Set aside time to be truly there for them. Read together, talk about their day, and really listen. Value what they say. Ask them serious questions. And have a "no tech" mealtime.

Relate to other adults with openness and kindness. Practice discussing issues without judging. Listen to what others have to say. Take time to converse beyond "Hi" and "How ya doing." And when you walk down the street or through a hallway in a building, make eye contact and smile, say "Hi."
Let folks know they have been seen and that they matter.

Your child and the people around you are watching, even if unconsciously. The way you connect with others will say a lot about you. And it can encourage others to do more to reach out and connect.

But why connect with kindness? Kindness leads to other good things: compassion, better relationships, future success, improved self-esteem, and good mental and physical health. Doesn't everyone want that? Won't that make a better world? I'm reading The Kindness Advantage; cultivating compassionate and connected children, by Dale Atkins, PhD. and Amanda Salzhauer, MSW. I figured that what we teach a child we can also teach an adult who didn't learn as a child.

So over the next week or so I'll be sharing what I find in it. I hope you as a parent or your inner child will find something helpful.

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, an the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness dos to others is that it makes them kind themselves.                                                    Amelia Earhart, pilot

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

How About a New Thanksgiving Tradition?

This year, while you are waiting for the turkey to roast or after you've consumed the last of your Thanksgiving dessert, take some time to write thank you note. Yeah, those old fashioned handwritten notes to thank people for what you appreciate about them. I suppose if you don't know their mailing address and you won't see them for the next week you could do it by email. But there is something really special about a handwritten note.

Write notes of gratitude to folks who we usually don't acknowlege how important what they do or who they are to us with much in the way of gratitude. Like the custodian of your school or office, the clerk at you post office or other public service, your pastor, your teacher, your spouse's parents, your mail carrier, a doorman, a maid, a baby sitter, the day care workers, your boss, your secretary or other support staff, a police officer, a firefighter, a doctor, a nurse. You get the idea.

So much that we are thankful for is a result of someone else's behavior. While we may acknowlege that we are thankful that there are medical services available to us, but how often do we express gratitude for spacific reasons, like "I'm grateful for your patience when I struggle to explain what hurts and how."

It is important that you are spacific. It is more meaningful if you have taken the time to identify some specific thing they do/did that you are grateful for.

So, turn Thanksgiving into a day of giving thanks to those we sometimes take for granted or we feel grateful but don't say it specifically.

And I want to than you for reading my blog. It means a lot to me that someone reads what I've written. It is extremely gratifying if you leave a comment.

So thank you. And have a thankful Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Peace by Piece

I'm afraid there is no magic formula to world peace. We can't wave a wand and say "Abracadabra". But we can begin it where we are. The beginning of world peace is to find your own state of peacefulness.

  • Practice what gives your peace: reading a book, quiet time, engaging in creative arts, listening to calmings sounds like ocean waves or birdsong. Set aside time to nurture your peacefulness and reduce stress with whatever helps you feel more peaceful.
  • Many people find meditation helpful to clear the mind and relax the body. There are many resources to help you learn to meditate. Check out videos on YouTube or contact a local organization that teaches and supports meditation. There are CDs that provide guided meditation. Find your path to peacefulness.
  • Manage your stress. Identify your stressors. Much of our stress comes from us believing that something should be different than it is, even though we have no control over changing it. When that is the case we need to change what we believe. Rather than fighting the reality of your powerlessness over a situation, accept that which you cannot change and focus on changing what you can. Sounds easier than it is. Other kinds of stressors can often be less stressful when we plan to limit our access to them, like certain types of persons or events. It often helps to take five or ten minutes a day to write about your frustrations, to express your feelings in ways that do no harm. Sometimes just writing about a situation makes it clear what you can do differently to make it less stressful. Find the stress-reducers that work for you
  • Participate in physical activity. This can address several areas in your life, making you more peaceful. It is good for your physical health and your mental health. It even helps you work off any emotions that seem to unsettle your peacefulness. While you are exercising, no matter what kind, focus on the exercise and let your mind clear. Work up to a place of peacefulness for you. Many people find exercises like running to be medatative.                                                                                                                                                         
  • Engage in self-reflection. Look inside yourself for what you tell yourself. Identify when you are being judgemental or hard on yourself. Identify negative self-talk and conscously interrupt it. Replace it with affirmations of your courage, your strengths, your worth. A sense of peace comes from being, and liking, who you want to be.                                                                          
  •  Allow and accept change. Change is often very stressful. The way you think about it can make it more or less stressful. Life is all about growing and changing and we are better off embracing change than resisting it. Cange is a learning process to a better life.Letting go of the fear of the unknown allows us to accept change. Realize that resistances causes mor turbulence in our lives. It usues more energy than acceptance.                                                                                                                                    
  • Bad habits keep you from finding a healthy balance and often interfere with your self-acceptance. Break one bad habit at a time to minimize the stress that comes with creating a new and healtier habit. Keep track of your changes by writing them down. Switch out the bad for a good habit. If you don't purposly replace the old bad habit you may create yet another bad one.
Making peace in your piece of the world begins with your own peacefulness. Find what works for you and begin the peace process right where you are.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How Do You Make Peace?

There seems to be no limit to conflicts these days. So in order to make the world a better place we each need to address conflict with peacemaking. Bringing peace into your own life is a beginning. Bringing peace into your community, your country, and your world can follow.

For a moment, consider where there is conflict in your life. What do you struggle against? What causes you anger? What creates emotional pain? What are these conflicts about? Can you find a way to resolve them with less conflict?

Consider if they are really problems you can do something about. If there is nothing in the problem you can change, maybe the change has to be in you? Can you forgive? Can you let go? Can you accept that the problem isn't yours?

An important part of resolving problems/conflicts is compromise. Examine ways you might compromise to bring about the peace you need. In most conflict there is a common ground that both parties can find when emotions are calmed and reason reigns. Dedicate yourself to finding that place where both can agree on something and work from there.

Addressing wider conflicts will require joing with others who are willing to work for peaceful resolution. It will also mean you must look at your own role in the conflict and to withdraw from combative dialog and behavior. Peaceful resolution follows peaceful behavior. All too often we get caught up in the "anti-" whatever and fail to find the "pro" elements. Work to find positive ways to address conflicts. Rathere than be anti-war, for instance, be pro-peace. Explore the diffference. "Anti_" is still fighting.

Stand for peace by loving all. I may not agree with you. I may not even like you. But I can love you as a human being and want to do what is right for all concerned. Do the difficult work to find what that is in each situation.

What might you do today to make peace?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

How Do You Love?

Love is an action verb. That means something must happen for the verb if you use it appropriately. Yes, love is a noun, too. But in verb form it must have an action. So how do YOU love?

It is an important question to explore. When you say you love something or someone, what do you actually do? Do you just feel all warm and fuzzy when you think of them or are with them? If that is the case, is it really loving them or loving the feeling you are having?

When you love your mate/spouse your behavior toward them will be caring, nurturing. You will do things they want. You will enjoy being with them and tell them so. You will communicate by word and deed your caring.

When you love your child, or any child, you will take care that they are safe and well. You will not do them harm, at least not intentionally. You will do things that provide safety, nurture, fun.

When you love your pet you will treat them, in many ways, as you do a child. You will see to their wellbeing, see that they have their needs met. You will be sure they are safe, they are sheltered, they are fed, they have clean water, they get exercise.

When you love your country you will take care of it as well.

What have you done that defines your love? We are coming through a very difficult time in our country. There is division, fesr, anger, even violence against others. None of these things are love.

Let's make love. No, not sex. Let's provide safety and wellbeing in our country for all people. Actually, if you want to make the world better, let's love the world.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

It Is Time to Be Nice!

O.K. The election is over. We can quit arguing with each other. It is time for us to be nice. That is how we can make the world a better place.

And if you have forgotten how to do that, here's Kid President on YouTube to explain how:

Now, let's go out there and be nice.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Are You Ready?

Have you explored your options? Have you found a choice you feel good about, or at least don't feel bad about? Are your ready to vote Tuesday?

I urge you to vote. It is your voice amplified by others that can be heard. Don't give up on our democracy. Practice it, protect it by voting.

We've voted early, many people have. It is a convenience for us, as we can choose the day and time that works for us. And the lines were not so long as at the precinct voting places. Don't know if that was a possiblity for you.

But do vote. As a citizen it is our duty. And the privelege was hard won. When we fail to use it we disappoint all those who have worked so hard, given so much, some have given their lives for us to have the right.

Let me know if you did it. Did you vote?