This is the final post of 10 posts I’m writing about how to combine gratitude and compassion for a happier life.
This series was all sparked by a remarkable finding from brain research as expressed by Dr Amit Sood of the famous Mayo Clinic:
“Because of the way your brain works, the pursuit of gratitude and compassion will make you happier than the pursuit of happiness itself.” – Dr Amit Sood
This insight has really made me think about so many aspects of my life.
How can I implement this in practice to turbo-power my happiness? How can we all?
I’ve come up with a simple 4-part framework for combining gratitude and compassion, and I’m sharing how to do that using 10 different examples in 10 posts. In each post I focus on a different area of gratitude as a jumping off point.
In this final post, my gratitude reference point is HOPE…
One of the amazing things about human beings is our capacity for HOPE.
I put it in capital letters (twice) because it’s just that freakin’ important!
Even when everything is seemingly falling down around our ears… as long as hope is alive, then we can dream. When we dream, then we can strategize and plan. When we strategize and plan, then we can usually find a way to turn things around.
Sometimes the solution is surprising. Sometimes we couldn’t see the solution when hope helped us take the first step towards looking for it… but we stepped forward anyway, and we found a way.
When we lose hope, that’s when we’re really in trouble. That’s when we give up.
Hope is so precious. We need to protect it.
No matter how bad things look to you at times, try not to give in to fear and pessimism. It doesn’t help you. It doesn’t help anyone…
Remember that human beings are ingenious. You’re ingenious.
We’re great at solving problems. We’ve made huge progress. There’s always a way through the darkness … and yet we’ll only find it if we’re looking for it. Hope is the fuel that keeps us looking.
Whenever I’ve come close to losing hope, I’ve been blessed to have someone reach out to me and lend me some of their hope until I got my own back.
Sure, there are always going to be problems to solve. And sometimes they’re going to feel overwhelmingly huge. But we CAN solve them. That is the precious gift of hope – knowing that it’s possible, knowing we can overcome any obstacles on our path if we just put our minds to it, and especially if we work together.
Check out this video that shows just how far we’ve come already…
Sure there’s still more progress to be made, more puzzles to solve… If we can stay focused on what’s possible, stay hopeful for the future, keep working on solutions together, and have some faith in humanity … then life on this planet will ROCK!
I’m so grateful for the hope in my heart. May it stay strong.
Years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I did lose hope for a time. In post #8 in this series I wrote about how when that happened I fell into a deep depression and ended up in hospital.
You can read Gratitude + Compassion post #8 here.
I also talked about how the thing that turned it around for me was when a kind soul, who could see the pain I was in, reached out and gave me a copy of Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life”. In giving me that book, she knew that I had in my hands the power to change my thoughts, and therefore change my life. She hoped that I would. And she lent me some of her hope when I had none.
There was an important key to how she did that though… it was in the way she offered it to me. She didn’t go on and on about how this book contained all the answers. She didn’t tell me that I MUST read it. Instead, she acknowledged my pain, she listened to me, and then she offered the book saying that it was something she’d found really helpful and insightful, and maybe I would too.
She was delicate in her approach. She was compassionate, and empathetic. She was soft… she invited me to read the book, but she didn’t insist. Then she left it with me.
See, new hope is a delicate thing. When you want to lend someone some hope, because you can see they are desperately low on it… you can’t go beating them over the head with it. In my experience, that doesn’t work.
Recently I was reading article in which someone described new love, a budding romance, as being like a kitten. You have to be careful not to squeeze that kitten so tight that you strangle it. I thought that was such a good metaphor. I feel that lending hope is like that too. When someone is so low on hope that they feel everything is pretty much pointless, then that is not the time to be all evangelical and pushy. All “the power is yours” and “no one can hold you back but you.” No.
Listen. Acknowledge. Be soft. Offer gently.
Try not to strangle the kitten.
This is based on a Buddhist practice called Metta. It involves imagining sending ‘loving kindness’. What’s that? I imagine it to be like the feeling you get from a loving, nurturing hug.
Firstly, for all the times in my life that I’ve felt low on hope, I send loving kindness to myself. For all the times that I got so focused on all the problems in the world, and spent my energy complaining so much that I stopped seeing the possibility for solutions, I send loving kindness to myself. And for all the times that I failed to have empathy, compassion or patience for others who did the same, or I didn’t know how to gently lend them some of my hope, I forgive myself.
(The practice of compassion always begins with the self. If we can’t practice self-compassion then it’s going to be very hard for us to have compassion for others.)
Secondly, for all the people I love, respect, and admire: I send them loving kindness for all the times they felt hopeless, tired, confused or felt like trying to change things was pointless. And for the times when they failed to, or didn’t know how to, inspire hope in others… I send them loving kindness too.
Thirdly, for all the people I don’t know who may be struggling in this way… I send loving kindness. For all the people I do know but don’t have much of a relationship with, who may also be struggling with this… I send loving kindness.
Finally, for all the people I know who actually irritate me, or people that I’m currently having issues with, who may be feeling hopeless themselves… I send them loving kindness.
What can I do this week to put it into action? How can I express my gratitude for the the hope that beats in my heart, while at the same time practice compassion for myself and others who sometimes feel overwhelmed by the challenges facing humanity and run low on hope?
This week, I pledge to seek out information that demonstrates that hope is alive and well on earth, in the hearts and minds of the global community.
Like this story about how Elon Musk is very soon going to start taking orders for the solar roof tiles his company Tesla is making.
These solar roof tiles are expected to be similar in cost or even cheaper than normal roof tiles, they look awesome, and they generate solar energy! When combined with Tesla’s Powerwall in-home energy storage technology, and Tesla’s fully electric vehicles… suddenly the possibility of households living off the traditional power grid, using sustainable energy and having a much lower carbon footprint is within realistic reach.
On the compassion side, I pledge to keep an empathetic ear out, listening for those who may be running low on hope themselves. Softly, softly, I will seek to lend them some of mine until their own recovers.
What can you do to combine gratitude and compassion this week?
Let me know in the comments if this post has helped you!
To YOUR Abundance,
Julie Ann Cairns