The Applied Brain Science Research Institute (ABSRI) recently published an article about the benefits to your own health and happiness by being kind and compassionate to others. We are beings of infinite kindness and compassion, and yes, I have been told many times that I am an optimist…so think about what our world would look like and how great we would feel if each of us committed to the daily practice of kindness and compassion?
I am disheartened to know that we often only extend that helping hand to those who may be familiar or seem safe or acceptable to us. Working in the homeless community, I see many folks who are experiencing homelessness for a wide variety of reasons: addictions, loss of a job, medical reasons, domestic violence, mental health challenges, and rising housing costs are some of the reasons that one may find oneself without a safe place to live. But really, is it right to choose whichever reason is “good” or “bad”? I ask this because so often when we outreach into the community to try to open eyes, minds and hearts to the individuals who are un-housed, we tend to use the “safe” examples of what brought on that state: the mother and her children who lost their home because of domestic violence or the family whose parents lost their jobs. Those stories may be close to our own and make it easier to imagine that this could happen to us. This bothers me, because even those of us who know better, are creating a message that there are “good” homeless folks, and “bad”. In reality, the person sleeping off their drunk under a tree or the euphorically high teen pan-handling on the street or the cardboard sign holding rough looking sort are just like us too…and they were kids once too. Statistically, their childhoods were unsafe and filled with violence, abuse, neglect, mental illness and trauma and these experiences occurred within their innocence and out of their control. It is hard to say where any of us would end up if we all had those Acute Childhood Experiences.
So think about the child that lives in all who we face and walk by every day. Think how easily you might extend kindness to that child, feel compassionate to that innocence. A smile, a “good morning”, a sincere “how are you feeling”, a heartfelt holding of the eyes…it all starts that simply as that.
And may you enjoy the best of health!