Ellen F. Franklin, PhD and Donna Carey, LAc
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
As you look deeper into Emerson's words and the qualities he speaks to — honor, compassion, making a difference, the sentiment shines bright. When we align our lives and soul’s purpose happiness follows, happiness is not the goal, but the predictable outcome of a compassionate well lived life.
As the holiday season approaches, three words stand out, kindness, compassion, and thanksgiving. Many of us will gather with friends and families for the first time in more than a year. We’ve experienced so much loss and so many challenges. Perhaps, the hardest challenge is the division that has arisen due to vastly different perspectives surrounding the global political landscape and the pandemic. Whatever choices you’ve made, or divergent paths you and your loved ones are on, our invitation to you during this time is to reflect on the values you share, and what brings harmony to you and those you love, rather than the stark differences that may have emerged.
Kindness begins with the self, as you journey inward during this season what changes do you wish to invite into your life. Are there things you wish to let go of so that you can begin the holiday season with a fresh creative perspective? Reflect for a moment on the quality of your breath are you able to bring in the pure Qi of the heavens on your inbreath and use the renewed Qi to let go of anything toxic in your life.
Kindness to others takes so many forms, generosity empathy, acceptance thoughtfulness, an intentional and voluntary act that has the potential to create a wave or a movement for positive right actions, a kind word, a smile – we have been so struck when in situations where a mask is required by the kindness that comes through in a person’s eyes. The Shen of the heart is reflected through the eyes. None of us enjoy being masked, yet how extraordinarily expressive one’s eyes can be, conveying a sense of community, we are in this together. Just one person acting with clear intention and an open heart can make a huge difference that ripples out into our global community. A simple, sincere thank you, as an expression of gratitude, can make someone’s day.
Compassion is as vital to a well lived life as the air we breathe. It is ability to recognize another’s suffering and the desire to take positive action, to act on another’s behalf to help them navigate their pain and suffering. Begin by practicing self-kindness rather than self-judgement. Several recent studies have found that self-compassion improves well-being and reduces anxiety. Take some time during this holiday season to give yourself a gift of self-compassion. Look beyond any limiting voices, or sense of not doing or being enough, and treat yourself with forgiveness and understanding. Self-compassion enhances emotional resilience and well-being. Yet, research including Ellen’s doctoral work, demonstrate high levels of compassion fatigue in care providers. What steps can you take toward self-compassion and personal renewal?
As you reflect on those around you, that you feel called to serve, how might you help them alleviate pain and suffering. Do we have the courage and capacity to care about another’s happiness and well-being as if it were your own? Despite, differences of opinion, can you truly show up and focus on the potential good in all people.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. — Dalai Lama
Thanksgiving in its purest form is a holiday that began as a day of giving thanks for the abundant harvest. A similar holiday is celebrated on various dates in many countries including Canada, the United States, Liberia, and Japan. It is often a time that families come together to share a meal, to stop and consciously give thanks for all that is good.
Whether or not you celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving take some time to recognize all that you are thankful for in your life, despite the hardships and challenges. Focus your energy on gratitude, identify the things for which you are thankful, affirm the good things that have occurred, acknowledge those that have supported you along the way.
Recognize simple acts of kindness, that bring peace, a sense of community, and love. Research has demonstrated that our ability to express gratitude boosts the immune function, improves sleep, and reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation. Identify small things that can change the tone of your entire day. Finding it challenging, name one thing for which you are grateful and take the time to savor it. Stop and tune into the sounds around you, play a piece of music, or use your sound tools to promote a feeling of well-being and joy and give thanks for the blessings of the season.
Thank you for being a part of the Acutonics community. May this holiday season be filled with light and laughter as we find new ways to gather in community with compassion, kindness and a full an open heart. To each of you we give our thanks for the work you are doing to make this world a better place.
Ellen F. Franklin, PhD and Donna Carey, LAc are the co-founders of the Acutonics Institute of Integrative Medicine, LLC, they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. You can read more about their work at www.acutonics.com.