Sometimes I see books promising a happy, abundant life that seem kind of complicated to me. As we move into 2012 I offer a recipe for a happy life that is simple and straightforward -- but which I guarantee works. I know it works because I've proven it in my own life, and I've seen its results in the lives of countless other people over the ages.
Just two ingredients -- courage and compassion
There are only two ingredients for this recipe I'm going to share with you today, and they are courage and compassion. But don't be fooled into thinking that this recipe is too simple to be any good. It actually requires considerable skill and attention to do it properly.
For example, it is important to make sure that you apply these two ingredients of courage and compassion in precisely the right proportion according to the need of the moment. One circumstance may be so gut-wrenching that it demands an immediate expression of courage on our part. Nothing else will do.
But then, as we all know, another moment may come along that doesn't especially call for courage. It calls for a change of heart so that we can see another person’s point of view in a difficult situation. Or feel the pain of another person, or of nature -- or our own pain – and act with new understanding and love.
Personally, I think one of the hardest things in life is to be truly kind to ourselves. Let me remember the gift of compassion given freely to each of us at our birth, and if I am pushing myself too hard -- as perhaps I am beginning to do right now -- let me realize that and offer kindness and compassion into the situation so that balance is restored in my experience.
I have learned in nearly 80 years that these two virtues of courage and compassion are one. They are always together. They are the core of true character and we separate them -- or attempt to separate them -- at our peril. “A house divided cannot stand," it was said long ago, and the words are as true today as they ever were.
I wish you success and joy as you meet the challenges and opportunities of the year to come. One of my own hopes or goals for 2012, by the way, is to get to know you better. What a pleasure this will be. Surely whoever we are, and wherever we live, we are all in this together.
PS JoAnn and I will be traveling south to the balmy (I hope) shores of Mexico for a few days this weekend. I will publish a new post after we return. Please know I love you and care for you and am delighted to hear from you anytime about anything.
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Photo credit randomguru