A couple of years ago I wrote an article for LivingNow magazine in Australia about brain science research that indicates something quite profound and amazing – it’s the finding that the pursuit of gratitude and compassion will make you happier than the pursuit of happiness itself.
That’s a pretty major insight!
You can read that article here: http://livingnow.com.au/compassion/
Gratitude has been a big part of my abundance journey. I know that practicing gratitude for the good things in my life attracts more good things to me. It makes me happier too. So I’m pretty jazzed up at the idea that I could turbo-power my happiness by consciously adding in compassion (and compassionate action) to my gratitude practice.
I want to explore the idea of how we can combine gratitude and compassion in our everyday lives.
Starting with this post, I’m going to be writing 10 posts about combining gratitude and compassion for a happier life. In each post, I’ll focus on a different area of gratitude as a jumping-off point. Here goes…
1. The Gratitude Piece – I’m Grateful for My Network
I’m grateful for having an amazing network of like-minded friends and entrepreneurs whom I can lean on when I’m confused, scared or just plain needing inspiration.
I know that they love me and respect me enough to tell me the truth and even offer some tough love when I need it. They also encourage me, acknowledge me and inspire me with their optimism, attitude of possibility, and enthusiasm for life. Why? Because I have actively chosen a network of people with these traits.
When I can’t see my way out of a dilemma, when I need a sounding board for new ideas when I’m feeling like a jerk for something I did that was not a reflection of my ‘best self’ and I need someone to talk to who knows my good heart… when I NEED someone to eat popcorn and watch Rogue One with me for the third time… I know I can find someone in my network to help me out.
These people have my back. And I have theirs.
But here’s the key: I don’t expect everyone in my network to be everything to me, all at once. Or even all the time. And I don’t expect that of myself, either.
I give what I can, when I can, in whatever way I can. And if I can’t, then I give myself a break. I offer the same consideration to my network. People are busy. They are dealing with stuff… I always try to remember the saying: “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
If someone can’t be there for me when I ask, well, I try not to take it personally. I reach out to someone else.
If I can’t be there for someone who has reached out to me, I tell them why and if possible connect them with someone else who might be able to help.
Give and take. It’s a cycle. The energy of abundance flows in a circle. When we refuse to receive, we block the flow of abundance into our lives. When we refuse to give, we do the same. We really are all in this together.
For all my network… for their abundance of love, support, and wisdom… I give and receive in gratitude.
2. The Compassion Piece – Knowing What it’s Like to Feel Alone
What’s it like when you don’t have a supportive network of like-minded people to call on?
Have you ever been at a party, surrounded by heaps of people, and yet felt utterly alone?
Have you ever been with someone you love, someone whom you wish would ‘get’ you, understand you, accept you for who you are… but they just don’t?
Have you ever held a precious vision or dream that you’ve nurtured in your heart, and then you finally share it with someone only to have them tell you why it won’t work?
Have you ever been in pain, in distress, or in danger but had no one you could call on to help you out?
It sucks to feel alone when you need help. It sucks to have no support. It sucks to feel like you’re not understood, appreciated or accepted… especially when it’s by people you love.
Yet these kinds of experiences happen to people every day.
And here’s where compassion feeds back into gratitude again – contemplating this makes me even more grateful for the wonderful network I do have.
3. The Meditation Piece – Sending Loving Kindness
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 have felt alone, unsupported, or misunderstood I send loving kindness to 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. These days I have a wonderful support network, but it was not always so for me. In fact, I used to pretend to be stronger than I was so I wouldn’t even allow people to help me if they wanted to. I forgive myself for that… I send my younger self, who didn’t know any better, loving-kindness.
Secondly, for all the people I love, respect, and admire… I send them loving kindness for all the times they may feel unsupported or alone. They may be struggling with this at times without me knowing.
Thirdly, for all the people I don’t even 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.
Fourthly, for all the people I know who actually irritate me, or people that I’m currently having issues with… but who may also be struggling in this way… I send them loving kindness.
4. The Action Piece – Putting it Together
What can I do this week to put this into action? How can I express my gratitude for my network and my compassion for those who need support?
Well, this week is an easy one!
I pledge to support my friend who recently had surgery by visiting her in the hospital, checking on her by text regularly, and seeing if she needs me to do anything for her. Maybe I could pick up some groceries for when she gets home? I’ll ask her what she needs… and if she says she doesn’t need anything, I’ll do something nice for her anyway.
Who can you support this week?
To YOUR Abundance,
Julie Ann Cairns