Provide what you wish to receive

This is something I have learnt over time, and that has helped me to deepen my capacity for empathy – providing to others what I wish to receive.

If I am feeling lonely, I will try to provide companionship to others.

If I am feeling anxious, I will try to ease the concerns of another.

It’s an interesting exercise, and I have found so much benefit personally from doing it.   Particularly a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment that I am easing the suffering of another.

And it helps to deepen my own intentions, and wish for others to be free of suffering.

Through generosity we find happiness.

 

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Giving without expectation

I was thinking further on my post from yesterday about Acts of Service.

There are so many little things we can do to show people that we care, without expecting anything in return.

Here are some of my favourites…

  • Give money (that you can spare) to someone who needs it and then pretend you never had it.
  • Listen to someone fully and openly – without jumping in with your own story, or the temptation to offer a solution. Give them the respect of your full attention, and show them that what they have to say is important to you.
  • Don’t ask someone if you they need help.  Follow your intuition, and just do what you feel in your heart would be the right thing for them in that situation.

 

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Mahatma Gandhi

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People that inspire me ~ Andy Smallman

The people I find inspiring are those who embody the traits that I value – kindness, generosity, compassion and positivity.  And I feel incredibly grateful to have very inspirational people around me – both in real life, and on the world wide web.

I recently had the idea to do a weekly blog post to recognise these wonderful people.  

And to say thank you for inspiring me and countless others, and making the world a much better place.

The first person I wanted to feature was the person who has made the biggest impact on my life thus far – Andy Smallman.

It was this (relatively) simple video that inspired a chain reaction of events in my life.

I have long tried to be a good person, and to make a difference in other people’s lives.  However it was watching this video that inspired me so much, and moved me to action.

I was blown away – a school dedicated to teaching kindness.

Thanks to Andy I was inspired to start my own random acts of kindness, and also this blog.

Andy was kind enough to let me interview him for the piece.  The questions, and his answers are below.

 

About Andy:

Andy Smallman is an education innovator and director of the Puget Sound Community School. His unique approach to learning has kindness as it’s foundation and is inspiring students and their communities alike.

In one sentence, describe yourself…

ImageI try not to take myself too seriously, hence this description. 😉

What is your life motto?

Be true to yourself.

 Happiness is….

… being warm, both on the inside, with myself, and on the outside, with everyone and everything else.

 What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about those moments when a person taps another person on the shoulder, metaphorically or actually, and the second person turns to see the sunrise, metaphorically or actually.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Just today I went for a run and saw an early spring flower blooming. I thought, “Who put that there? What a kind thing to have done for me.”

Who inspires you?

Children. Nature. Honesty. Oh, the question said who, not what. Sorry.

What are your goals?

To grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. That’s it. Everything else flows from those two things.

What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?

Well there’s always a “right” answer to this question, like the decision to marry Melinda, my wife, right? And that really was a good decision, a great one, in fact. But I never would have even had the opportunity to make that decision if I hadn’t made countless decisions that led to it. So the best decisions I ever make are the good ones I make in the present, right now, to be positive, the decision to be present. These “now” decisions are what lead to great opportunities in the future.

What are you most grateful for?

How wonderful is it that right now I can feel the sun on my skin?!

What was the most defining moment in your life?

There have been several, each of which directly influenced EVERYTHING that followed. But I’m going to say that founding the Puget Sound Community School in 1994 is the most defining. To do so, Melinda and I quit our jobs with their known salaries to start a venture conventional wisdom said had no chance of working. That we did it soon after having our first child and soon after buying a house, as well as having no savings to speak of, adds to its “definition.”

What’s the number one thing you want to achieve in the next five years?

See my answer to the “goals” question above and let the “achievements” take care of themselves.

If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?

Take care of yourself and by that I really mean it: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Your REAL self. Find something that you love doing and commit to doing it regularly. Oh, and while you’re at it, make it simple. Because it really is simple.

 

For more information on Andy:

Please visit:

Puget Sound Community School

Kind Living Blog

Chat with Andy

What exactly are your intentions?!!

Intention sets direction

All of us have different intentions that will arise – depending on the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

We can’t control those intentions, impulses and desires that arise, but we can choose whether or not we follow them.

The intentions you do act on define who you are.

There are many different situations that we face throughout life – some of them difficult – and most times we have little direct control over them.

What we do have control over is how we react to those situations, and with what intention.

Our intentions have a huge effect on our minds, and our behaviour.  And not only do they affect our ourselves, but also the people around us.  And subsequently how we see and experience the world.

For example if you have an intention to be kind and generous, you will mostly find that people around you will react positively and kindly.  Conversely if your intention is to be angry, you will likely be met with the same from those around you.

It’s nearly like “instant karma” where we can immediately feel the effect that acting on certain intentions has.  And this doesn’t just apply to our speech and actions, but our thoughts as well.  By practising mindfulness, you will notice how angry thoughts produce unpleasant sensations in your body.  And vice-versa.

The intentions that we live on also create a habit in the mind.  It strengthens those intentions, so the mind is more likely to react in the same way in the future.  If your intentions are mean-spirited, then you are strengthening those tendencies.  If your intentions are to be kind and generous and giving, you will also strengthen those conditions in your mind.

And the time that your unconscious intentions and reactions are most likely to arise is during times of stress and anxiety.

Practice exercises

Spend some time considering the following:

  • Which intentions do you act on?
  • Which intentions do you decide are useful?
  • What conditioning arises for you during times of stress?

And most importantly, spend some time asking yourself the following question:

“What is the deepest intention that I want my life to be based on?”

And how can you follow through on that intention?

All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  What we think we become”.  The Buddha.