FINDING GOODNESS IN THE MIDST OF DIFFICULTY – DAY 2
“How are you?” So rarely does that question come with a heartfelt desire to know how our inner landscape feels right now. Playing the game, we answer vacuously, and both parties move on with their day.
Contrast that with the same enquiry from a true friend, who genuinely wants to hear the details of your worry or joy. It’s so lovely when a friend takes care of us – an unexpected bunch of flowers when we are feeling low, or a hug.
Acts of kindness can feel like rain on parched earth, bringing dormant seeds into germination. How wonderful, therefore, to discover that offering kindness to others can be the sunlight within our own heart.
It doesn’t have to be part of an organised charity or volunteer organisation, it can be helping out an elderly neighbour or delivering food to a sick friend. Research shows that people behaving altruistically suffer lower levels of depression and experience greater ‘life satisfaction’. And there’s more: they have better physical health and even live longer.
Acts of kindness include making donations of clothes or money (yes, it works), or giving a homemade gift, such as a cake. And when the giver extends acts of kindness beyond the family circle and out into a social group, it stretches the sense of community.
How is this anything to do with mindfulness?
Humans have a natural ‘negativity bias’ (part of our protection mechanism that means we initially interpret something as dangerous until we are sure it is safe). Noticing the goodness, and the sense of safety when we are part of a community and appreciated by others, is the key to soaking in the goodness.
Mary Oliver: The summer day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around
with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
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