If you want your life to stand for peace and kindness, it’s helpful to do kind, peaceful things. One of my favorite ways to do this is by developing my own helping rituals.
These little acts of kindness are opportunities to be of service and reminders of how good it feels to be kind and helpful.
We live in a rural area of the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of what we see is beauty and nature. One of the exceptions to the beauty is the litter that some people throw out of their windows as they are driving on the rural roads.
One of the few drawbacks to living out the boondocks is that public services, such as littercollection, are less available than they are closer to the city.
A helping ritual that I practice regularly with my two children is picking up litter in our surrounding areas. We’ve become so accustomed to doing this that my daughters will often say to me inanimated voices, "There’s some litter, Daddy, stop the car!"
And if we have time, we will often pull over and pick it up. It may seem strange, but we actually enjoy it. We pick up litter in parks, on sidewalks, practically anywhere. Once I even saw a complete stranger picking up litter close to where we live. He smiled at me and said, "I saw you doing it, and it seemed like a good idea."
Picking up litter is only one of an endless supply of possible helping rituals. You might like holding a door open for people, visiting lonely elderly people in nursing homes, or shoveling snow off someone else’s driveway. Th
What does it mean to relax? Despite hearing this term thousands of times during the course of our lives, very few people have deeply considered what it’s really about.
When you ask people (which I have done many times) what it means to relax, most will answer in a way that suggests that relaxing is something you plan to do later 勃 you do it on vacation, in a hammock1, when you retire, or when you get everything done. This implies, of course, that most other times (the other 95 percent of your life) should be spent nervous, agitated2, rushed, and frenzied3. Very few actually come out and say no, but this is the obvious implication. Could this explain why so many of us operate as if life were one great big emergency? Most of us postponerelaxation until our “in瞓asket4” is empty. Of course it never is.
It is useful to think of relaxation as a quality of heart that you can access on a regular basis rather than something reserved for some later time. You can relax now. It’s helpful to remember that relaxed people can still be superachievers and, in fact, that relaxation and creativity go hand in hand5. When I’m feeling upright, for example, I don’t even try to write. But when I feel relaxed, my writing flows quickly and easily.
Being more relaxed involves training yourself to respond differently to the dramas of life 勃 turning your melodrama6 into a mellow瞕rama7. It comes, in part, from reminding yourself over and over again (with loving kindness and patience) that you have a choice in how you respond