The suffering caused by the terribly violent events in Tucson, Arizona bring into focus the desperate need of our society to focus on a solution to this type of behavior. When we forget that we are all simply the same ‘human’ creatures, made of the same organs, feeling the same happiness and avoiding the same suffering, we tend to lose our ‘humanity.’ Compassion for all humans is the source of happiness and the solution for suffering according to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler in their book called The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living.
As a society, we are still shocked over this recent senseless loss of life and needless physical and emotional injury to those that survived. We question, ‘What kind of crazy person would kill a child? Who could raise such a monster?’ People are a product of their collective experiences in life, and in some philosophies, of their current and previous lives. Either way, it makes sense that when we are in a relative state of happiness; we tend to be more helpful, more compassionate, more giving, and more productive. Dr. Cutler speaks about how research has shown that if someone happened to find some money (planted by the researchers) and right after noted someone (another researcher) who just dropped a pile of papers, that happiness-rich individual is more likely to lend a hand. On the flip side, when we are ‘suffering’ from negative feelings like anger, frustration or sadness, it becomes increasingly difficult to want to be helpful and think of others, let alone complete your tasks efficiently and make the best rational decisions.
So, how to bring about more happiness in us, thereby bringing about more happiness in society and according to the latest research on compassion meditation, bringing about a more peaceful and humanitarian culture for our children, our grandchildren and so on? Well, sorry to say I am only on page 23 of this book and the answer has not been given in one simple statement just yet. But, there is hope if we start with something, no matter how small. I wanted to share their idea that seemed easy-to-do AND with exponential potential to spread happiness. Here it is: Make it a resolution to take just one day a week and practice 5 random acts of kindness to one or more strangers that day. That’s it! One day a week, open the door for someone, pay a toll for the next car in line, or write a thank-you note to the garbage man you have never met- just do something that benefits another human.
As the universe would have it… just today, I was awakened from my routine ‘gotta do this- gotta do that’ inside voice loop when out of the blue, I heard, “I am going to use the extra 20% off coupon I have behind the counter for your shoes that are already on sale, so you get them for even lower.” I went from having my thoughts being fixed on my next thing I had to do (the future) and sliding right back into the present (where many philosophies and religions say we should live and breathe). You might think it was about the shoes, but it’s about the feeling I got inside that said, “I am so ecstatic because I must have done something right, smiled something right or just been in the right place at the right time in this salesperson’s world that I received such thoughtfulness!” And wouldn’t you know that my Friday afternoon with my kids was off to an even better start than would I not have received her random act of kindness.
Terrible things seem to happen every day in this world, but even more terrible would be if we did not try to use our compassion and humanity to defend and sustain our very need for existence- to seek happiness! (I certainly have a long way to go before I can use the techy lingo without my friends laughing at me, but…) Let’s go viral with this challenge! Imagine if each one of you were to start and get 2 other peers to start with a once weekly random acts of kindness quota. What a better world we would start to grow, even if it were just in the world you and your family exist. I have committed to Tuesday! Which day will you choose?