We want to be good. It’s a natural impulse. Toddlers have it. You can see it when they spontaneously share or rush to comfort someone hurt. We can lose touch with this natural disposition. It can become hidden under layers of conditioning, distraction, and misplaced values. Despite these challenges the seeds of compassion don’t die. They’re just lying dormant, waiting for some nourishment.
Try this mini meditation.
Bring attention to the places in the body where you feel emotions. Check in with the face, throat, chest, and abdomen. Perhaps there are some pleasant feelings already there. If there are, bring attention to them. Notice their location and intensity.
Now try to bring up a positive feeling in your body. Sometimes a feeling can just be drawn up like water from a well. Other times it’s easier to strike a match with a quick mental image or some “talk” and see if that gets the emotional fire burning. Imagine someone or something positive to you. Say a word or phrase that evokes a positive feeling. Revisit the body. Is there a corresponding positive feeling there?
The positive feeling might be quite subtle at first. Refresh the feeling using one of the above strategies. Keep it going.
Revisit this feeling for a few moments or minutes, allowing it to grow and spread through the body and mind.
The last part of this mini exercise is to bring the goodness you’ve cultivated in your mind and heart into your life. See if you can carry some of that goodness into your next interaction today. Just come to the other person from a place of happiness, joy, love, awe, or whatever positive emotion was lit up in you. This goodness isn’t specific to your interaction, or particular to the person with whom you’re interacting. It’s just bringing goodness into the interaction, without a big agenda. It’s just one way of being goodness.
We are social beings. We want to serve others. It’s in our DNA. At any time it’s possible to turn towards goodness in the mind, in the heart, and in our actions.
Check out this fun and profound perspective on goodness from my teacher, Shinzen Young: https://www.shinzen.org/nurture-positive/
And learn more about the many facets of, and interactions between, wisdom and compassion in this comprehensive article from Rick Hanson, PhD: https://www.rickhanson.net/two-wings-psychological-growth-contemplative-practice/