Happiness Hacks: Compassion

“Happiness Hacks”  are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.

Compassion makes you feel better.  I saw this first hand when I worked in an outpatient program with people diagnosed with severe psychiatric disorders – schizophrenia, manic depressive disorder and major depression.  Many had been hospitalized more than once.

My goal was to help patients manage their illness, so they could stay out of the hospital  and live a more normal life. Besides many of the things the program offered to help them, including medication, I believed if I could help them be happier, have more positives in their lives, some of the stressors they felt would be offset and help them stay well.

Acts of Kindness by Peggy

I had read a research project using compassion exercises and decided to try it. It worked well in the research and I hoped it worked for the patients. Here’s what I did:

Week 1: I asked the patients to spend an hour being really good to themselves, something to pamper themselves. It didn’t matter what they chose as long as they personally enjoyed it.  When they shared everyone expressed liking their experiences and felt happy they participated.

Week 2: The patients were to take the same amount of time – an hour – and do something nice for somebody else, something to brighten someone else’s day.  It didn’t matter who they chose or what they did as long as it was something kind and giving.  When they shared this experience they were even happier!  All reported they felt better doing something nice for somebody else for an hour than doing something for themselves.

Caring for others, having compassion, can make you happier. You don’t have to wait weeks between.  Do something nice for yourself for an hour one day.  The next day do something nice for another person.  It doesn’t even have to be for an hour.  Try it and see for yourself.  And let us know how it goes.

Compassion Hack

According to brain science Buddhist monks are some of the happiest people in the  world.  They are don’t leave their monasteries and do things for others, but meditate on compassion.  Research shows compassion meditation changes the brain and makes it happier!

Don’t have an hour to do something nice for someone else?  Spend 10 – 20 minutes and meditate on compassion . . . Remember – It’s a hack NOT a substitution for the real thing.

 (PW)

FAITHfully Yours on this day of giving Thanks

“Shed the light of a boundless love on every human being whom you meet, whether of your country, your race, your political party, or of any other nation, colour or shade of political opinion. Heaven will support you while you work in this in-gathering of the scattered peoples of the world beneath the shadow of the almighty tent of unity.”

Baha’u’llah, The Baha’i World Faith,

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.” 

The Dalai Lama

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

 1 Corinthians 13:13

Sending all of you much love,

judy

During the month of November, Baha’i Blogging is hosting a post-a-day-or-so something related to or inspired by Faith.  Because so many of you follow both this blog and CATNIPblog Peggy & I will post our “dailies” here and Sunday “retrospectives” on CATNIPblog.com

The hashtag is #bahaiblogging.

“Gumping” Through 2011

Forrest: “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama.

For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going”.

At the end of every year I find myself at another ocean, re-viewing my own “run” . . .

2011 has been an eventful year — Tallulah was falsely blamed for my light-headedness, chest pain.  That went on for about 3 months.  I was visited by “mysterious visitors” that kept me up all night coughing.  That went on for about 6 months. (recurs periodically but still don’t know why).  Couldn’t run without pain for about 6 months. (Finally gave in and had a cortisone shot).

I worked 7 days a week.  Every week I figured since I already had worked 5 I might as well work two more.

Consequently I got fibro fogged and messed up my appointments – double booking or forgetting to write down the right time or writing the right time on the wrong day …

Those are the things that went wrong.  What went right?  I’m sure there was a lot – I just don’t remember where I wrote them down.

Not quite sure what I’m suppose to learn from 2011 . . . yet.  With years of hindsight I figured out that having fibromyalgia gives me greater compassion; Having  heart problems reminds me to wake up everyday with a  loving heart;  My study of Baha’i removed my fears and gave me faith and  a bit of wisdom.

I can hear my friends saying it was time to apply the compassion, love and wisdom to myself and stop running.

Hey, Forrest, pass me the box of chocolates . . .

P.S.  In case you didn’t notice, I have been lying on the beach without a computer for the last several days!


Can Compassion be Taught?

A blogger friend asked me this question.  Can compassion be taught?
My primitive thoughts:

1.  To be compassionate we have to put our egos aside.  When self-importance, personal need, greed drive us compassion fades.

2. People must be willing to learn.  What’s the saying? You can lead a human to God but you can’t make him believe.

3. Humans can be taught HOW to be compassionate toward others. 

An example that I come across every time I do couples counseling is that each partner intends compassion while the other partner experiences it as hurt or neglect.  The disparity between INTENTION and EXPERIENCE is based on how each of us PERCEIVES our “reality”.

Ex: The man is being compassionate when he tries to find a solution to the wife’s pain and all she wants is a shoulder to cry on and arms around her.  A wife is being compassionate when she expresses FEELINGS by putting  her arms around him when all he wants is her to bring him a hot meal and stop shopping.

Yes, these are stereotypes but substitute what you “do” to show compassion and you can teach yourself how to match your partners experience to you intention.  Just do what your partner wants instead of what you want.  Fill out the blanks to figure it out.

  • When I show compassion I (behavior)________________ therefore that’s what I want from my partner.
  • When my partner shows compassion he/she (behavior)______________________therefore that’s what he/she wants in return.

Almost to a fault you can believe that whatever one person DOES to show their compassion is precisely what they WANT in return.

4. The easiest way to teach compassion is to put the individual in situations with people less fortunate.  World travel, volunteering, support groups, charitable work are all ways of finding compassion.  Internet chat rooms and forums play similar roles.  (I am not yet convinced that having some kind of direct contact is still not the best way to develop compassion but technology has given us the way of behaving compassionately at a distance.)

After compassion is LOVE.

Can you teach love?