Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A day to be thankful

As Thanksgiving approaches, I become aware of mixed feelings and anticipations. With the combination of stressful travel plans, family gatherings, an abundant meal, and lines of people standing outside of stores for black Friday deals...this holiday can bring great joy, as well as feelings of anticipation and stress.


As a holiday based on thnkfulness and spending time with loved ones, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for reflection and gratitude. We all have so much to be thankful for...even if it doesn't appear so upon first glance. When I asked a client of mine what they were thankful for, this client had a beautiful answer:
she reported feeling thankful that she can see colors.
That her lungs operate as they are supposed to, bringing in breath without her mind having to focus on it.
That the very ground she walks on is both a blessing and a miracle, as the mystery of life still baffles her.
She reported feeling grateful for the unexpected -- the lessons life teaches, as well as the way things always seem to work out.

This client is an inspiration. What are you thankful for this holiday?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You Never Know.

Plato once said "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."

This quote has become an important cornerstone for the way I live my life: always remembering that each person's experience is mostly hidden from the naked eye of the observer.

As J. Shep Jeffreys says in his book Helping Grieving People:
"You never know what is going on inside someone else's mind--the person walking 
by you on the street, standing behind you at the checkout stand, waiting at the stop light 
in the car next to you, smiling hello as you enter the elevator, serving you coffee 
or sitting across the aisle in the commuter train--what he is she is thinking. 
How much pain or rage is tearing at a person's heart 
or how much an individual is struggling just to make it through another day at work."

We often underestimate the power of compassion. Of empathy. Of random acts of kindness, and simple gestures of thoughtfulness. The stories we keep hidden behind a practiced smile and the burdens we shield away from view within contrived personas are each person's quiet journey. 
Many among our society are quick to believe that they understand those they interact with based on a few minute seconds of communication or contact. In most cases this is untrue. The outward-facing person an individual shows to others frequently does not truly reflect their inner state of being. 

I ask you to keep this in mind. Remember this throughout your day today--wherever your day might lead you, and practice the compassion of living with the intention to honor each person you meet for the stories and realities they are truly living (even if they do not appear to be struggling).