Book: Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date: 2010
Pages: 222

Source: Library (but I purchased a copy to use for the coming year)

Summary: Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life corresponds to the TED Prize that Karen Armstrong received in 2008. The Prize consists of a cash award plus the assistance of the TED community in granting a wish of the recipient. I watched and sketchnoted the talk where Karen Armstrong declared her wish.

Karen Armstrong, The Charter for Compassion, TED Prize talk

Notes taken from Karen Armstrong’s TED Prize talk: The Charter for Compassion, delivered in February 2008.
Click to see a larger version.

I encourage you to watch the talk for yourself because it’s also a great introduction to the book.

Her wish, a Charter for Compassion, came true and continues to function.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong

A process for developing personal compassion to engage in compassionate community for a more compassionate world

Thoughts: As I read through Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, it became clear pretty quickly that reading wasn’t enough. These are steps that need to be worked to have an impact on my life and on my way of being in the world. Armstrong admits this in the preface:

I suggest that you begin by reading the entire program all the way through to see where you are headed, then return to work on the first step. Each step will build on the disciplines and the habits acquired in those that have gone before. The effect will be cumulative. (p. 24)

My plan, then, is to work through one of the Twelve Steps each month for the next year. In the spirit of Learn in Public, I’ll be taking this on as a blog project called Compassionate Sunday. Every Sunday for the next year, I’ll examine my progress on the step I’ve assigned myself for that month.

Compassionate Sunday

Who? Me and anyone who wants to play along. You can join in a big way by doing the whole thing with me – 12 months for 12 steps, 52 weeks of Compassionate Sundays. Or, in smaller ways by piping up with a blog post or comment whenever you have something to share on the current topic.

What? Each month, we’ll cover one of the Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life in the order presented by Karen Armstrong in the book:

  • February. The First Step: Learn about Compassion.
  • March. The Second Step: Look at Your Own World
  • April. The Third Step: Compassion for Yourself.
  • May. The Fourth Step: Empathy.
  • June. The Fifth Step: Mindfulness.
  • July. The Sixth Step: Action.
  • August. The Seventh Step: How Little We Know.
  • September. The Eight Step: How Should We Speak to One Another?
  • October. The Ninth Step: Concern for Everybody.
  • November: The Tenth Step: Knowledge.
  • December: The Eleventh Step: Recognition.
  • January: The Twelfth Step. Love Your Enemies.

Where? On my blog and yours and anywhere else that you like to share thoughts and things that you’ve learned.

When? Every Sunday from February 7, 2016 through January, 2017.

Why? Because the world needs as many voices of compassion as we can get, especially as an antidote to this year’s US presidential election and similar harsh, fear-based, political forces in other countries. Or, in the words of the Charter for Compassion: “We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world.”

Appeal: Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong will appeal to anyone who is troubled by the combative climate in the world and wants to experience internal movement toward peace with an external impact toward harmony.

Reviews: I see from Bonnie’s Books that I wasn’t the first to have this idea. The Book Buddies made a year-long study of Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life their project for 2014.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

I’m attaching a link list in case you want to write a blog post announcing your intention to participate in Compassionate Sunday. Such posts are the most efficient way to spread the word in the book blogging community — thank you!

Signature of Joy Weese Moll


Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life #CompassionateSunday — 54 Comments

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  2. I’m going to have to think about this…if not doing on Sundays, doing some other time, or at least joining with you in spirit. I already have committed to keeping track of my one word with Sunday posts and don’t really like doing two posts per day…BUT I’ll think about this, that’s for sure. AND I’ll promote it on social media so others can join if they can.

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