This photo was taken when my youngest son, Eli, was two years old. He is now 17 and 6′ 3″ tall. It is so easy to forget that we are all just children who have gotten bigger.

How would you treat a small child who was struggling, lost, or confused?

We can practice treating ourselves and others this way today

Compassion is more than a nice idea. Compassion for self and others is a discipline — a skill that is developed with practice. And it has powerful impact on the quality of our lives, the quality of our relationships, and quality of our work. Compassion makes us more resilient, more engaged, and more creative problem-solvers.

And, compassion is good for the person practicing it, the person receiving it, and people who witness it. Hard to find a downside here.

The alternatives — detachment, self-defensiveness, and hostility — may feel easier or expedient in the short-term, but they can have significant costs in terms of physical, psychological, and social well-being over time.

It is worth noting that there is a difference between being nice — doing or saying what you think the person wants in an effort to be seen as a good person — and being kind — doing or saying what you feel the person needs, regardless of how you will be viewed.

We can begin practicing compassion by being aware of our self-protective judgments. We do not have to treat these as the truth. We can know that these are the result of pathways in the brain that formed a long time ago. We can accept that these pathways may not be as useful as they once were. We can take a breath and respond in a way that is kind and helpful.

Life will offer us many opportunities to practice this today — whether we use them is up to us.

Dave works to increase wellbeing in the world by helping people discover what they are really capable of. He teaches practices to create a mindful and purposeful relationship with stress, anxiety, resistance, frustration, distraction, and the feeling of being stuck. The result is fulfillment, growth, and connection that is not dependent on circumstances. He offers individual coaching and well as keynote speaking, in-services, retreats, seminars, and ongoing consultation.

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