Thursday, September 13, 2012

Activity 20 - 30 days of compassion


The talks
Time for another one of the big ones, an activity dedicated to compassion. This one could probably have a hundred TED talks associated with it, but I've selected a couple that have really resonated with me for the activity. The first is of course Karen Armstrong: Let's revive the Golden Rule, which I also used during Activity 2 - 30 days of thanks, praise and mindfulness. The second is Chade-Meng Tan: Everyday compassion at Google which I found to be an interesting talk about how they train their leaders to be more compassionate and how they encourage their staff to be involved in compassionate activities. The final talk that will inform this activity is Daniel Goleman on Compassion which is a great discussion about compassion in our society in its various aspects and how we might improve it.

The challenge
This is a pretty simple challenge, to spend 30 days being more compassionate. This is something that I have been trying to be better at since Activity 2, but I know that I have not given it the focus it requires.

I am just completing an activity focused on self-compassion, to try to improve the way I judge myself internally, and I think that this is a great opportunity to turn that focus outwards and spend 30 days on compassion.

After Activity 2 showed me that I am less compassionate than I would like to be I bought Karen Armstrong's book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and have been endeavouring to read it to learn more about how I can improve this aspect of my personality. After eight months I have still not completed it. This is partially because it took so long to get through the first part of the book that is all about the Golden Rule in religion. Even though I am an atheist I don't have a problem learning about religions, I have spent a lot of time learning about them to come to my atheist decision. But this was a very hard read and really put me off the book a lot. I will attempt to complete it in the next week though, so I have greater guidance to this activity.

The activity
There is one specific aspect of Chade-Meng's talk that I intend on trying. When I interact with people during these 30 days I want to do it with the thought in my head "I want you to be happy", to see if that improves my focus on compassion.

Apart from that part I have no explicit guidelines for this one, simply a desire to become more compassionate in my daily interactions. This is a very subjective measure, perhaps more than many of the other activities, because only I really know how compassionate I am and whether I am being more compassionate or not.

The other thing I would like to do in this activity is to try to see if I can find a way to improve the compassion of those people around me. This is a concept that is still formulating in my mind, and I think it is something I need to engage with the people at work about to see if together we can come up with anything that makes us  practice being more compassionate. This does strike me as an odd statement given that I work in Human Services, which is all about compassion, but we're quite poor at extending that in our office environment.

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