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Healthy Minds Healthy College

Winter wonder, inspiration, and self-compassion…

November 29, 2012

I walked out of my apartment building this morning and it was so beautiful outside. I couldn’t help but notice the snow sparkles.  I had to show my son the sparkling top layer of the snow.  I have been enjoying so much the morning sunrise.  We are so fortunate to see the sunrise on the way to work!  I am driving and I look at the pink sky.  Yes, there is beauty in winter….that’s for sure.  I don’t forget the fact that I have to scrape the windshield, warm up the car, and put layers of clothes, but as I look at the sunrise and listen to some music on the way to work, my attitude changes and I set a nice tone for my day.

I guess I am trying to talk about inspiration.  Isn’t it inspiration that we are all looking for in our day, in our experiences, and interactions with people?  I know I am.  When I read, I want to read something that moves me.  If I listen to music, I want the music to get to me, I want to feel it.  I am referring to experiences that touch me on a deep level.  At the end of the day, these are the experiences which bring meaning to my life.  Sometimes I think that my life is about connections—with family, friends, and people in general.  My interactions would not be meaningful to me unless I felt connected with my loved ones on a deeper level.  At least this is how I am and I am aware that people are different.  And it is all good.

I don’t know about you, but I know that I was never taught to be gentle to myself, to be kind to myself, to be self-compassionate.  I read an article recently addressing self-compassion and it made me think.  I started asking myself “Do I give myself a break sometimes? Do I beat myself up for my faults?” Are you aware that self-compassion consists of three parts: self-kindness, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience, and recognizing in front of myself that I am suffering?  I find it fascinating.  It is true for me that many times when I have fallen below my own standards, I have suffered, but have ignored my pain because I had to be strong and just go with the program for the day.  The more I talk to people about the experience of being alive, the more I realize that I am not alone in my suffering and I feel more connected.

There are many benefits to being self-compassionate.  There is a strong link between self-compassion and well-being.  It gives us the same mental health benefits as self-esteem: less depression, more optimism, greater happiness, and more life satisfaction.  Also, people who are self-compassionate, are kinder, more giving, and more supportive to their relationship partners.  To me it all makes sense.  If I take it easy on me, I can give the people around me a break as well.  As a result, everybody benefits.

I will leave you with a quote by Kahlil Gibran which is a nice wrap up of all I have said so far : ” We live only to discover beauty.  All else is a form of waiting.”