We tend to focus on personal growth for personal returns, don’t we?
How do we do when it comes to personal growth for returns in the community?
Sure, if we’re happier in our lives, we contribute more positively. If we’re not scrambling for food and shelter, we can spread the wealth around.
But what about improving our connection to others, so that we’re as concerned with their welfare as with our own?
True story: Friends of a very wealthy, very content and very kind lady told her that they would be leaving their long-term home and community because the taxes on their house had gone up beyond their means. She expressed her sadness that they would no longer be a part of her local community. And then she shared her excitement about a travel she’d be taking overseas at about the same time they’d be packing up their home to move.
What’s going on there? Have you ever been in the position of our overseas traveler? Do some of the things you’ve said in a similar context make you want to cringe as you think back?
How are you doing on the “feeling good” meter right now?
If you’re ready to up your compassion, here’s a simple practice you can apply.
Pick someone in your life with whom you have difficulty relating. Don’t go all the way to that guy or gal who says black every time you say white or wrong every time you say right (you could just dance to that one, couldn’t you?). Go to that person you like who just “doesn’t get it”.
Then tell yourself a story about what might have happened in that person’s life to lead to “not getting it”. What kind of experiences would s/he have had that would lead to the conclusions you disagree with? Or what kind of experiences would s/he have not had? It doesn’t matter if your story is true. You’re just looking for a plausible explanation for why someone could think or feel differently from you (imagine that!).
Now ask yourself what wonderful things that person is missing in his/her life as a result of his/her different experiences and conclusions.
And here’s the really fun part . . . . How can you create an opportunity for one or two of those wonderful feelings or triumphs or relationships for your “difficult” friend? Be one of those bold “where no man has gone before” adventurers and make it so!
The big benefit in your life? Aside from that expansive inner smile when you see a new frontier open for someone else, you’ll find that your growing stock of compassion has a companion plant of inner peace. Those places in the community where you were flappable before will see you waving placidly on a gentle breeze.