Be Friendly

Friend or Foe? The Practice: Be friendly. Why?Friendliness is a down-to-earth approach to others that is welcoming and positive.Think about a time when someone was friendly to you - maybe drawing you into a gathering, saying hello on the sidewalk, or smiling from across the room. How did that make you feel? Probably more included, comfortable, and at ease; safer; more open and warm-hearted.When you are friendly to others, you offer them these same benefits. Plus you get rewarded yourself. … [Read more...]

Say Thanks

Say Thanks - Just One Thing

Each Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded to be thankful. When times are tough, finding reasons to be thankful may be challenging or even seem inappropriate or impossible. This year, before we sit around the dinner table, let’s think about the myriad benefits to saying thanks, and how to truly savor the opportunity, no matter what.What do others give you? The Practice: Say thanks. Why?What do you feel when someone thanks you for something? For a comment in a meeting, a task done at h … [Read more...]

Have Compassion

Do You Care? The Practice: Have compassion. Why?Compassion is essentially the wish that beings not suffer - from subtle physical and emotional discomfort to agony and anguish - combined with feelings of sympathetic concern.You could have compassion for an individual (a friend in the hospital, a co-worker passed over for a promotion), groups of people (victims of crime, those displaced by a hurricane, refugee children), animals (your pet, livestock heading for the slaughterhouse), and … [Read more...]

Relax, You’ve Arrived

Are we there yet? The Practice Relax, you've arrived. Why?We spend so much of our time trying to get somewhere.Part of this comes from our biological nature. To survive, animals - including us - have to be goal-directed, leaning into the future.It's certainly healthy to pursue wholesome aims, like paying the rent on time, raising children well, healing old pain, or improving education.But it's also important to see how this focus on the future - on endless striving, on … [Read more...]

Speak from the Heart

What's Your Heart Say? The Practice Speak from the heart. Why?One Christmas I hiked down into the Grand Canyon, whose bottom lay a vertical mile below the rim. Its walls were layered like a cake, and a foot-high stripe of red or gray rock indicated a million-plus years of erosion by the Colorado river. Think of water - so soft and gentle - gradually carving through the hardest stone to reveal great beauty. Sometimes what seems weakest is actually most powerful.In the same way, speaking … [Read more...]

Put No One Out of Your Heart

What is an open heart? The Practice Put no one out of your heart. Why?We all know people who are, ah, . . . challenging. It could be a critical parent, a bossy supervisor, a relative who has you walking on eggshells, a nice but flaky friend, a co-worker who just doesn't like you, a partner who won't keep his or her agreements, or a politician you dislike. Right now I'm thinking of a neighbor who refused to pay his share of a fence between us.As Jean-Paul Sartre put it: "Hell is other … [Read more...]

Tune Into Others

What Are They Feeling? The Practice Tune into others. Why?Imagine a world in which people interacted with each other like ants or fish. Imagine a day at work like this, or in your family, aware of the surface behavior of the people around you but oblivious to their inner life while they remain unmoved by your own.That's a world without empathy. To me, it sounds like a horror film.Without empathy, there can be no real love, compassion, kindness, or friendship. Empathic breakdowns shake … [Read more...]

Drop The Case

Who are you prosecuting? The Practice Drop the case. Why? Lately I've been thinking about a kind of "case" that's been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with others who haven't supported me, views about what should happen that hasn't, and implicit taking-things-personally. In other words, the usual mess.It's not that I have not been mistreated - actually, I have been - nor … [Read more...]

Don’t Take it Personally

Is it about you? The Practice Don't take it personally. Why?Here’s an updated parable from the ancient Taoist teacher, Chuang-Tzu: Imagine that you are floating in a canoe on a slow-moving river, having a Sunday picnic with a friend. Suddenly there is a loud thump on the side of the canoe, and it rolls over. You come up sputtering, and what do you see? Somebody has snuck up on your canoe, flipped it over for a joke, and is laughing at you. How do you feel?OK. Now imagine the exact same s … [Read more...]

See the Person Behind the Eyes

Who is behind the mask? The Practice See the person behind the eyes. Why? Most of us wear a kind of mask, a persona that hides our deepest thoughts and feelings, and presents a polished, controlled face to the world. To be sure, a persona is a good thing to have. For example, meetings at work, holidays with the in-laws, or a first date are usually not the best time to spill your guts. Just because you're selective about what you reveal to the world does not mean you're insincere; phoniness is … [Read more...]


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