No one can occupy your generosity except you. Who can occupy your patience when impatience roars through you? Who except you can choose not to act with judgment when all of your thoughts are judgmental?
My "One Little Word" for the year is generosity, which I picked because I wanted to challenge myself to be more generous, to dig deep to find more kindness and charitability when it is hard. It's easy to be generous with people you love. What about with people who get on your nerves?
Two weeks ago I found myself revisiting my OLW and reaching out to several friends and family to ask that question, and I received wonderful answers which I am including below.
I realized something about myself this past week about why it was so essential for me to find more generosity -- I'm more of a "Candor" than I thought. Have you read Divergent by Veronica Roth? In it, people are divided into five groups based on their personality types. I always figured I was more nose-to-the-grindstone "Abnegation" or let's-be-friends "Amity" than anything else. Candor never appealed to me -- or so I thought.
Two things happened recently that made me reassess. I was working as a volunteer for a politician and someone came up and said she had voted for my candidate, which made me initially happy but the more she talked, the more I realized that I disagreed with her about a number of things. I said so and moved along and then wondered "Can I fake it if necessary? How does that work? Darn." Also, the incident that made me write people to ask for generosity-help was a situation where I wanted to interact with someone in a positive way and I knew that my good feelings needed to be genuine. I have to find generosity in my heart because my true feelings show.
The Generosity Suggestions:
Jay Shetty: Think Like a Monk
Martha Beck: The Way of Integrity
David Whyte: Crossing the Unknown See: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity
Tara Brach: Radical Acceptance
Sometimes when I catch myself by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye
A la Jesus in the book of Matthew, try to pray for the other person in a free flowing way. What are your wishes for this person? How would you like their life to be blessed? Even if these wishes feel disingenuous at first, perhaps over time, they could feel more true and from the heart. Allow your burden to be lifted a little, with this expression of goodwill.
-Try a Buddhist lovingkindness prayer, also known as Metta. Put your hand on your heart and feel the warmth of your own care for yourself. Repeat the following statements:
May I be happy and peaceful.
May I be safe and protected.
May I be free from suffering.
May I live with ease.
Then, think of someone who you love easily. Bring their face to mind and the feeling of being in their presence. Repeat the statements, changing the pronoun to "you." May you be happy and peaceful, etc. Next, think of the person who is getting your goat, so to speak. Repeat the statements again, whether they feel natural or forced. It's okay. Lastly, visualize the entire world, and send everyone lovingkindness. May we be happy and peaceful. May we be safe and protected. May we be free from suffering. May we live with ease.
- Hebrew prayer for compassion:
Blessed One-ness, Blessed Connection
May we find relief from our hurts and fears.
And may we not, in our pain,
Lose our empathy
For the hurts and fears of others.
We pray for all who are in pain
And all who cause pain.
-1% rule: No need to be perfect in non-annoyance... but perhaps it would be possible to relax the body even 1%? To settle into feeling 1% more generosity toward them?
-We are not golden retrievers: To be annoyed is to be human! When you find yourself getting frustrated, think "ah, how human of me!" Perhaps you could even find yourself smiling a little bit. "Here I am, becoming annoyed, like every other human who has ever lived, yes yes, this is true." A label of the emotion and a lightness of touch with your response to it... sometimes this alone can help diffuse the situation
-Mindfulness of sensation & curiosity: could you observe your annoyance like a scientist? Instead of pushing this emotion away, could you feel the heat rise in your chest? Does it feel like a fire? Or does it feel more like a breaking ocean wave? How long does the annoyance last if you allow it to pass through without distraction? What exactly makes it spike the most? What color is it? If you had to draw it, I wonder what it would look like. If you had to describe it to an alien who never felt that way, I wonder how you would describe it. Maybe the next time the annoyance is triggered, you could focus on turning inward and observing it closely, like a fascinating phenomenon-- this sensation of aliveness
-a conversation: in your journal (or on a blank sheet of paper), write about the conflict from your point of view for four minutes. next, write about the conflict from their point of view for four minutes-- this may take some imagination. for the last four minute segment, write from the point of view of a wise observer. this could be anyone from your higher self, to a favorite teacher, to the Virgin Mary or Dalai Lama. Anyone who may bring a wise, neutral perspective to the issue at hand. see what kind of insights arise from this brief exercise.
I have started using the Buddhist prayer and it is helpful. Hope you spot something helpful if you seek it!