Judgments (especially premature judgments) can stifle our compassion. Judgments can make us feel as if we are “experts” when in reality being judgmental can limit the options and opportunities that are available. A judgmental nature can make it hard to feel at peace. Staying with whatever arises without judgment requires gentleness, kindness, and compassion.
To be patient requires tolerance and even-tempered perseverance. Patience strengthens your ability to calmly endure challenging or painful situations. Patience helps us accept each moment exactly as it unfolds and teaches us how to be complete in each moment.
When we look at life with a beginner’s mind, we are in awe and possibilities abound. We don’t beat ourselves up because we are not experts – we allow time to practice and learn and allow others to practice and learn. We don’t let our expertise on a subject limit what we can learn or what others can learn. When we are beginners we are learning, practicing, absorbing, and building from the ground up. We live in the moment.
Trust is essential for personal growth. When we trust we give up control and the illusion of authority. We learn to trust our intuition – our deep inner wisdom – our instincts and our own emotions. This usually results in less self-judgment.
Almost everything we do, we do for a purpose; to accomplish something or go somewhere. The tendency to be driven in our culture and society has enabled us to enjoy unprecedented standards of living, comfort, and security. This has also resulted in extraordinary levels of depression, dissatisfaction, and feelings of isolation. Within this context, non-striving is the attitude of not straining for or forcing a result or an intended outcome. Loosening expectations of how someone should be (including yourself) can be extremely liberating.
There may be no greater gift you can give than to accept someone (including yourself) exactly as they are showing up in your life at that moment. The gift of acceptance is needed before any transformation can truly begin (and stay). The attitude of acceptance requires kindness, self-compassion, and non-judgment.
Another way to think about letting go is non-attachment. The tendency to want to hold on to what is pleasant in our experience and to reject what is unpleasant is a common human experience. Letting go allows us to experience and learn to respect each new moment without holding on to old ones. When we let go, we remove old burdens and grudges; we let go of assumptions and expectations. We start fresh each time. Letting go allows for new possibilities and growth.
Gratitude involves a feeling of or giving of thanks. It can be an appreciation for something large or small. Adopting an attitude of gratitude trains our brains to look for things to appreciate (or increase in value). For instance, we can be grateful that our organs are working properly, or that we have the ability to take a deep breath. Additionally, an attitude of gratitude allows you to see the value in any lesson that might be learned from an unpleasant event or occurrence.
Giving freely of yourself (e.g., your time, attention, thought) to someone other than yourself without expectation of anything in return enhances interconnectedness and personal fulfillment.
Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
Compassion is not the same as empathy, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help.
Scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, caregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people.