…because some thoughts are worth remembering
My friend told me about an exercise they teach at a workshop to help expand one’s capacity for compassion. You face a friend and you tell him/her what you appreciate about yourself. The friend just listens (i.e., no judgment, no commentary). It is predicated on the theory that you must be able to have compassion for yourself in order to have compassion for others. This idea is not new and not limited to one culture: the Greeks, who have 6 words for love (one of which embodies the concept of compassion, agape) have explored the topic thoroughly, and compassion is one of the ingredients necessary for achieving enlightenment in Buddhism.
We don’t take the time to think about our own qualities in a positive light, and sharing with another person makes you articulate feelings and images of these qualities into something more concrete. When you give it a name, it becomes real, and it is easier to then hone and expand on it.
I felt once wasn’t enough and thought about how I can practice it on a daily basis. Rather than keeping a diary of daily events, I started jotting down 3 things I was appreciative: 1) about myself, 2) about my husband, and 3) about others (other people, events, etc.). Sometimes they are relatively trivial and short, like appreciation for a hot cup of tea that brightened up a cloudy day, while other entries are longer because they explained both the context and the impact of an appreciated trait or an event.
The end result is not as important as the concept of having to write them out daily, even on days you don’t feel you have anything to be appreciative for. But I’ve recently gone back to read my earlier entries, and luckily, they aren’t as painful to read as old diary books from childhood. It’s been a good addition to my bedtime routine.