Trust Yourself and Take Some Baby Steps
In a recent interview with Andrea Polard, author of A Unified Theory of Happiness, I asked her for some pearls of wisdom in respect to helping us on a journey toward happiness. She said:
“My first pearl would have to be the pearl of empathic understanding. Anybody who suffers greatly needs lovingkindness, either from a friend or a therapist. However, once we have taken care of our unhappiness, we ought not to expect automatic happiness. Instead of waiting for a miracle, I’d advise this someone to take responsibility for the experiences he or she generates, to become inspired by the combined wisdom of Western and Eastern thought, to define some baby steps, and to begin to move in the right direction. Every journey starts with a first step, today.”
I thought this was an important point to expand on. One of the things we are all in great need of is greater empathy and self-compassion. Just imagine if difficulty in your life arose within a field of understanding and caring versus panic or negative self-judgment, what would be different?
The Vietnamese Buddhist Monk sums it up with his quote, “Peace in yourself, peace in the world.”
Andrea’s 2nd point is also important to consider. In our culture we often rely on experts to tell us what will make us happy and forget that our experience is truly our greatest teacher.
How can we ever trust ourselves if we so often look outside for the answers?
Whenever engaging in any practice toward change, one of the greatest pieces of advice I was given many years ago was to allow my experience to be my teacher. In other words, treat whatever you’re doing as an experiment and be a scientist of your life. What do you find when you allow your attention to just follow the breath? Maybe how busy and loud your mind really is? Or maybe you find a state of peace and calm? There is no good or bad experience, it’s just about getting to know how you work more. When you know the pieces you’re playing with you’re more likely to make skillful decisions.
For example, if you know your mind is busy all the time, or your body is tense, or that taking space makes you feel better, perhaps it would be wise to sprinkle in some calming practices during the day.
Whatever it is you’re choosing to change, treat is an experiment, give yourself some extra self-compassion, take some baby steps and then see how it all unfolds.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.