In the last year or so, I have been thinking about what my values, hobbies, and ways of living were when I felt most true to myself. This led to me thinking about how much I used to focus on spreading kindness and focusing on finding and highlighting the good in everyone. Eventually, anxiety, the busyness of work, grad school, the mundane of getting bills paid, growing pains of dating and growing up… I just got too busy for the little things. The little things just were too much for my overworked, anxious brain. And then… the entire life altering experience of becoming a mom! Now I had time for all the little things that were about my sweet boys – but absolutely nothing else.
Finally (more years later than I really want to admit) I have got to a place where my mental health is good and my anxiety is minimized. I have figured out routines to balance home life and work, and decluttered life a bit to know what the real priorities are and get comfortable with saying no to things that don’t align with. It took until my 30s, but I also feel like I mostly have being an adult figured out, and I’m not constantly finding out things I should have been doing and I wasn’t (like changing air filters in the house…). Now I am working on refining my life. Thinking about how to take everything I’ve learned and done, all the versions of me I’ve been, and how to be the best version of myself that also feels good about what I bring to the world. Maybe it’s the type 9 (enneagram) in me, wanting to bring harmony and peace into everything I do, but getting back to spreading kindness and joy through small acts became a main priority.
Enter Radical Compassion by Tara Brach. I think our world could use a lot more compassion and a lot less judgment, and I want to bring that into my own little corner of the world, so I thought this book would be the perfect read to start off the year. Ironically enough, Radical Compassion taught me that to love the world better, I have to love MYSELF better. To do better in the world, I had to first do better towards myself. I will be honest – at first this was the most frustrating thing ever. I got this book to learn about putting more goodness into the world, not to love myself. But I rarely don’t finish a personal development book because I think part of the development sometimes is hearing things you didn’t really want to hear and analyzing why you feel that way.
But as I started implementing the practices in this book and treating myself with more compassion, my heart filled up with happiness, and I felt like I had a full cup to pour from, to pour into others. In fact, I didn’t even have to focus on pouring into others – as I filled up, it naturally spilled out and changed how I reacted to people, to stress, to difficult situations. The meditations and the use of RAIN (read the book for the details) helped me stop judging myself and holding myself to unrealistic standards, which made it easier to not judge others and to always look for the good first. By remembering and honoring the innate goodness of myself, I could see it in others, and be that mirror to help them see it, too. That is how to best change the energy in a room or a community, I think – help them love themselves and see the good they have and bring to the table. If we are all mirrors for each other’s light, we can really light up the world. And who wouldn’t want to be part of a world full of that light and love?