Compassion is not a sometimes thing. It’s an all the time thing. Loving actively isn’t something we can do with homeless people on the sidewalk and then ignore it when we get home. It’s not something relegated to volunteerism, and then we go back to our regularly scheduled program at home.
This is something that requires an “all-in” attitude. It is required in every aspect of life.
And that can be overwhelming.
It’s overwhelming when we start examining everything we do because being committed to compassion, it means we have to adjust our consumption habits. We have to change our political views. We have to vote for different candidates – people who reflect love in action. We have to advocate for the voiceless and the marginalized. Sometimes we have to confront our friends and family and be an example.
We have to seize corporate assets and cut their amorality off at the source because they have not responded to other actions – because they have focused so much on profit margins they’ve lost sight at the wanton destruction they leave in their paths.
When I look down at my plastic bowl, I cringe. My stomach twists.
I just read another article about how plastic is killing whales. I just read another article about how plastic exposure during pregnancy has epigenetic health impacts on fetuses. I just read another article saying that micro-beads are in pretty much every fish we eat.
I need to stop buying plastic, but I live in the US where plastic is part of everything. My computer case – the keys I use to type are all plastic. My cellphone is plastic. My car is plastic. My reusable water bottle is plastic. At least it’s reusable, but still.
From Overwhelm to First Steps
It’s not just about plastic, but plastic is a good example of entering to begin. It’s food. It’s energy usage. It’s capitalism. It’s consumerism. It’s EVERY. SINGLE. PART.
I could go on a Bernie Sanders gesture-filled soapbox rant, but I won’t. I won’t insult your intelligence. You know this already. We all know this, even if sometimes we try to ignore it. And we all ignore it sometimes because it’s daunting. It’s daunting to know that compassion is something that should inform every action and there is so much more we could be doing.
So what do we do?
I’ve been thinking about this question since at least 2002. How do we move our entire world into a new paradigm of being? The reality is change can happen quickly if the right people in the right places have the will. All we need is critical mass – enough people with the same vision, spreading that vision. But what are the first steps?
Another way of looking at this is, how do we read sacred texts into the ethical questions of today? This is a question so many theologians and scholars ask, but few offer a complete answer. Religious leaders often wrestle with this question. Secular thought leaders wrestle with similar questions.
I’ve been getting requests… so I’m going to try my hand.
At first I thought I would just put these ideas into a novel, easily digestible and accessible. I still might. As I thought more about the project, I realized that wasn’t enough. Counting on everyone’s ability to infer what the message was in my story wasn’t enough. I needed to make it practical and easy. People need easy.
I came up with the idea for this book in the shower – I’ve been excited about it since (and frankly overwhelmed). I outlined the entire text in two hours. It’s going to give you a beginning of how to be compassionate in EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE because that is what we need. Frankly, it’s something I need.
Sure, there will be classes and things coming out of this book, but the book will be there for anyone to have all the information they need to begin this journey with specific actionable steps.
Now you’re thinking, “Alexis, this is crazypants! You still haven’t given me something I can use today! I mean, what about plastic? We didn’t finish talking about that!”
I know. I could talk about a lot of things and get into the nitty gritty of so many, but that is the content of my as of now, unwritten book. So here’s the long and short of it that you can use TODAY:
Before any action you take, stop to consider.
Ask yourself this question, “Is this loving? Is this contributing to making life more wonderful?”
You will know an action is loving when you feel lighter, warmer, and relaxed. If you feel anxious, tense, or heavy, the answer is no.
Act according to your answer.
This is the short answer to all action. This is the way you know whether you are compassionate. It takes practice to follow this process with all your actions, but after some time, it will become second nature.
Even though I gave you some practical steps above, I think it’s a little easier to break things down even more. So this week, I’d like you to do the following:
Pick one area of your life where you want to be more compassionate – to love more actively. This could be with yourself, the environment, strangers, friends, family, animals, whatever makes most sense for you at this point.
Assess what ways you can change your actions to be more compassionate immediately by checking in with your gut (using the questioning process above).
Comment below this post with the area and your first step toward compassion.
When you forget or make a mistake, forgive yourself and keep going.
To the left you’ll see a tipographic with the challenge. Go ahead and pin it or save it somewhere you’ll be able to see it as a reminder.
Truly, compassion is the surest path to making the world better. It starts with the first step. It starts with you.
I love you. I truly believe we can do this.
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- Neither Selfish or Selfless – Only Loving! - April 30, 2018