If you’d like to share a post about what you learned about compassion (The First Step), what you’re seeing in your world (The Second Step), self-compassion (The Third Step), empathy (The Fourth Step), mindfulness (The Fifth Step), or action (The Sixth Step) use the link list below. Or join the discussion in the comments or on Facebook.
Most months, I’ve spent the month working out how, exactly, I will bring that month’s step into my life. For the Sixth Step, Action, Karen Armstrong is pretty prescriptive about exactly what actions to take:
First, make a resolution to act once every day in accordance with the positive version of the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.” This need not be a grand, dramatic gesture; it can be a “little, nameless, unremembered” act that may seem insignificant to you….Second, resolve each day to fulfill the negative version of the Golden Rule: “Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you.” Try to catch yourself before you make that brilliantly wounding remark, asking yourself how you would like to be on the receiving end of such sarcasm–and refrain….Third, make an effort once a day to change your thought patterns: if you find yourself indulging in a bout of anger or self-pity, try to channel all that negative energy into a more kindly direction. (p. 114)
Of course, easier said than done.
When I first read this in January during a quick read through the book, I wasn’t sure it was possible. Now, that I have worked through the first five steps instead of just reading them, it feels very possible. I’m much more aware of both the opportunities and the times when I succeed or fail at taking them. I have plenty of opportunities – if nothing else, these actions could be applied to what I choose to share and not share on Facebook.
This chapter, then, feels like a next step in awareness. And, awareness is important. If I want to get myself to do something more, the best tool I have is to become aware of how much I’m doing it now. So, this month will be a series of experiments on increasing my awareness.
How do you get yourself to take, and be aware of taking, the small actions that increase compassion in your world?