Compassion Wins

As most readers of this blog will know, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion began in January 2015 in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders, the murder of school children in Pakistan and the Boko Haram massacres in Nigeria. Sometimes it feels as if the world is becoming increasingly less compassionate and more violent, that isn’t the case. Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard University says we should look to data, not headlines, and that with the exception of the Syrian conflict, data shows we are actually becoming more peaceful.  Other researchers say the picture isn’t quite so clear and that while overall, Pinker is right, some violent areas are becoming more violent.

One thing is clear though – the world still needs compassion. Our 1000 plus Voices need to keep speaking for compassion.

When I posted in a Facebook group asking if other bloggers would like to join me for a one-day event writing about compassion, I had no idea if anyone would say yes, and never dreamed we’d still be going a year and a half later.

Of course, people did say yes, and we are still here. Not only are we still here, but we have some incredibly exciting news.

That very first blog post I wrote, 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, has won a blogging award. This is from an email I received from BlogHer at the end of June:

We’re thrilled to inform you that your piece, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion,” was nominated in the Impact category and made it through a minimum of three rounds of judging with at least two judges each round, and has been selected as a 2016 Voices of the Year Honoree!

If BlogHer was thrilled to inform me, I was equally thrilled to be informed! Dancing up and down and bouncing to tell someone thrilled.

Except, I couldn’t. Not straight away at least. The email also said that not all submitters had been informed of the results and asked Honorees to say quiet until BlogHer made the official announcement.

For those of you who don’t know what BlogHer is – it’s “a new kind of media company, created in partnership by, for and with women, and men, who are leaders across blogs and social media and are passionately committed to quality content.” BlogHer has an audience of 100 million across blogs and social media.

Each year, BlogHer has a conference somewhere in the USA, with keynote speakers, workshops and of course with presentations of the 2016 Voices of the Year Honoree awards.

So folks, this is a big deal!

The conference is in Los Angeles this year, and I’m in the UK, so I won’t be able to go, but luckily one of our admins, Roshni, is going instead! I’m so pleased that she could take my place because Roshni has been with 1000 Voices from the start, and has been such a hard working member of the admin team. She looks after the Twitter account, as well as contributing to in the Facebook group and page. Roshni also just a lovely, lovely person so I am so glad she could go to the BlogHer 2016 conference to collect the award.

Truly, truly, truly, while I may have written the posts on Facebook and my blog inviting people to join, without Roshni and the other admins, 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion would never have got going and would be going still today.

I feel this honour is for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, for all of us. Everyone, every member contributed. THANK YOU.

I’m also delighted to say that I am not the only “Voice” from our group to be a Voice of the Year Honoree. Hasty Dawn Words also won one of the awards in the Impact category for her #BeReal campaign. Darla Halyk won in the Written Work (long) category for her blog post: My Gambling Addiction Drove Me to Break the Law and Alexandra Rosas’s post Past, Present, Future: What It Feels Like to Look at Your Children won in the MOMents category (MOMents is sponsored by Merck for Mothers, hence the capitals.) The posts in this category are about the joy of bringing a new life into this world.

Congratulations to Hasty, Darla and Alexandra!

I was a BlogHer 2016 VOTY Honoree

 

This month our theme is Compassion and Courage, and I’d just like to say while it’s easy to think of courage as grand leaps and big gestures, every leap begins with a tiny action. A small child climbs up steps before she whooshes down a slide. You lift your heels and point your arms before you dive into water, you pick up a pen before you apply for your dream job. The courage comes to you with that first action and we all have courage in small ways as well as big.

Your fingers hit the keyboard before your words reach the page for your post for 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion’s link-up on Compassion and Courage. You have courage. Now keep going, let the words keep flowing and join us with your post!

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a focus on Compassion and Courage.

Write a relevant post and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below.

Here’s how to get involved:

Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook

Follow this blog

Follow @1000Speak on Twitter

Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.

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The Wisdom of Gratitude – #1000Speak

12246830_760693657374296_8775570206419549353_nFor our link-up this month, in honor of the Thanksgiving tradition our theme is GRATITUDE.

Here’s what the Oxford Dictionaries online have to say about gratitude:

noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

 

And according to the Thesaurus, some synonyms are:

  • grace
  • gratefulness
  • honor
  • praise
  • thankfulness
  • responsiveness
  • appreciativeness
  • acknowledgement
  • recognition

I agree with all of those. The Thesaurus also includes a few terms as synonyms that I’m not so sure about.

  • indebtedness
  • obligation

And oddly enough, when a quick check of its listing of synonyms for obligation reveals gratitude isn’t among them!

So, like many emotions, it seems there can be differing opinions of what exactly it is. Today we share some quotes about gratitude from famous people in differing walks of life. I particularly like this one by John F. Kennedy.

JFK Gratitude

 

Just as he suggests, let’s not just utter words, but live by them!

Since 1000 Voices is all about compassion, I love this quote about gratitude from the Dalai Lama:

Now there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful toward your enemy for providing you that precious opportunity. Because if you are ever to be successful in your practice of patience and tolerance, which are critical factors in counteracting negative emotions, it is due to your own efforts and also the opportunity provided by your enemy.

This one is from writer Alice Walker:

‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche:

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

I particularly love second part of what novelist G. K. Chesterton says here:

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

From author, poet and spiritual coach, Stephen Levine:

Gratitude is the state of mind of thankfulness. As it is cultivated, we experience an increase in our “sympathetic joy,” our happiness at another’s happiness. Just as in the cultivation of compassion, we may feel the pain of others, so we may begin to feel their joy as well. And it doesn’t stop there.

I agree with Levine – what he describes has been my experience. The more I cultivate thankfulness, the easier it is to enjoy other people’s gratitude too. It  seems hard to believe now, but looking back I can remember feeling annoyed at witnessing others’ gratitude. So there’s no doubt that gratitude is good for us, not just for the people we feel it towards!

A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books were often a source of wisdom for me when my children were little.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.

I’m going to end with a quote from a character in my teenage daughter’s favorite detective show, Castle. My daughter has this quote pinned to her wardrobe door and it’s a great remind that we don’t need to hunt for wisdom, it’s right there in everything we do.

Even on the worst days, there is the possibility for joy.

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a particular focus on GRATITUDE, as well as the broader topic of compassion.

Write a post relevant to this month’s focus – GRATITUDE – and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below. We also welcome posts on any aspect of COMPASSION, and this month we particularly welcome posts on your vision for the world or feelings of compassion after on the attacks in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere. 

Here’s how to get involved:

Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook

Follow @1000Speak on Twitter

Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.

 

Gratitude Prompts for November’s #1000speak Link-up.

1000 Voices’ OPTIONAL theme for this month it Gratitude, and we welcome any posts on compassion. If you plan to write a post on gratitude, but are feeling a little unsure what to write about, here are a few questions and suggestions to get your ideas flowing.

Meaning of Gratitude

What does gratitude mean to you?

What are the benefits of gratitude?

What is the opposite to gratitude and how can we help ourselves find gratitude in situations where we feel its opposite?

 

How do we express gratitude other than with words? How do you express it wordlessly, and how to do others express it towards you?Do you prefer to show gratitude quietly or outwardly?

Why is gratitude sometimes so hard to show?

What do you do when someone returns your kindness with ingratitude or derision?

Your feelings

Write about a time you felt particularly grateful.

Have you ever felt grateful for hard times? Tell us about them!

Or maybe even if you didn’t feel grateful for the hard times, you felt gratitude during them. Write about those moments of gratitude in the midst of pain.

Children 

Is it useful or not to demand children express gratitude?

How can we encourage or develop children’s natural gratitude?

Holidays

What are you grateful for this holiday season?

For those of you in the USA, do you have any family traditions for Thankgiving, or do you celebrate in non-traditional ways?

And finally, don’t forget about self-appreciation!

What about yourself are you grateful for?

Do you find it difficult to feel gratitude for yourself, your gifts,

talents and contributions?

Why is it important to appreciate yourself?

 

Illustration: Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos

An Experience with Compassion: #1000Speak Guest Post

This week I’m excited to have David Breaux as our guest poster. David is an enthusiastic member of 1000 Voices and also has an amazing compassion project of his own. In this post he writes about how that came about, and why he joined 1000 Voices. Be sure to check out David’s blog once you’ve read his post.

hands-compassion

 

On June 3rd, 2009, I began asking people to share their written concept of the word compassion in a notebook. As of today, I estimate individually asking over 20,000 people and receiving over 10,000 responses. I do this as a personal endeavor to bring awareness to compassion and to help alleviate suffering in the world. While standing at the corner of 3rd and C Streets in Davis, California, I’m often asked what am I doing there and why.

Here’s the story….

My experience with compassion first began in 2008. After ending a relationship, I felt depressed, lonely, and frustrated like we all do after a breakup. I was working on a screenplay without motivation. Overall, life felt bland. You know, that unsweetened Kool-Aid feeling. I knew there was a better way to live.

While a student at Stanford, I had learned how to exercise my mind. I exercised my body by running and cycling. But I didn’t know how to exercise my spirit so I contemplated,

“How does one exercise the spirit?”

I felt the answer was there, but I didn’t know how to find it.

For a year, I read books and watched YouTube videos on spirituality. I came across Karen Armstrong’s TED talk on compassion. This got me thinking, “What is compassion?” I got a pen and a notebook and began writing my definition. I couldn’t pinpoint what it meant to me, so I left the small studio I lived in and went around Oakland, California and asked people to write their concept of compassion in the notebook. The simple act of asking turned out to be very fulfilling—I was engaged in deep conversations, I was learning and teaching, I was going outside after spending most of the days cooped up inside—and it felt rejuvenating.

I continued on this process of self-inquiry. Feeling frustrated and recognizing my egotistical efforts were for naught, I surrendered. I lay on my back—legs straight and relaxed, arms to the side, with a focus on the breath. I decided to remain in this position—save for grocery shopping, eating, and using the bathroom—until I found an answer.

I lay there for three weeks.

I arrived at a space internally where I could hear that still, small voice. I asked, “What do you want of me? How can I be of service?” The voice said, “Go and keep asking people about compassion.” I asked, “What else?”

It replied, “That’s it!”

Immediately, the ego erupted like Godzilla out of the ocean and had its own questions, “Are you crazy? What kind of answer is that? How will I live and maintain this lifestyle? How will I pay rent and bills? What will this bring me?”

The still, small voice kept answering, “Ask people about compassion.” After going through different questions and scenarios, I finally accepted the answer. Soon after, I moved to Davis in May, 2009.

With renewed eyes, I began to see the impact of what I was doing and what was happening. I didn’t expect that asking people about compassion would amount to much nor did I expect it to grow so quickly. I soon realized that what I was doing was catching the attention of more and more people. Word-of-mouth brought more people to the corner every day for different reasons. People were coming to me for advice, to share their stories, or to just stand with me at the corner for a moment of quiet peace. Within a few months, thousands had written their ideas about compassion.

Recently, I came across 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, a Facebook group of bloggers writing and working for compassion. When I heard about it, I immediately and enthusiastically explored it and invited everyone I know who works with compassion to join the community. I also asked to join the group, feeling like I was in flight with 1000 others flying in formation.

Reading what others share in the group about compassion enables the continuous growth of information for what I do in bringing awareness to compassion. As a lifelong learner about compassion, the blog posts help the unending contemplation of compassion. The group also provides a positive media platform and awareness for those who wish to bring more peace, love, and compassion into the mainstream.

Since that first day in early June, 2009, I remain connected to that still, small voice that lights the path on this journey of compassion. I appreciate all the blessings it bestows.

I am grateful to everyone who writes their concept, to those who pass by and ignore the question, to those who criticize, condemn, or misunderstand what I am doing.

I am grateful for all the gifts—the food, cards, donations, thank-you’s, and clothing.

I am grateful for such a painful breakup.

I am grateful for the grace of Love that brought me out of that Dark Night of the Soul six years ago.

I am grateful for it all because, in the end, I believe compassion is a healing force that will alleviate all the unnecessary suffering in the world.

 

Photo by Ben Tuason.
Photo by Ben Tuason.

David H. Breaux activates compassion by asking people to share their written concept of the word compassion in a notebook. He received a B.A. from Stanford University in Urban Studies, is a featured contributing blogger to the Charter for Compassion, author of “Compassion: Davis, CA“, and is an unofficial “street therapist.” He recently completed a yearlong Compassion Tour asking people around the US “What is compassion?” 

David’s intent is to bring awareness to compassion by encouraging people to think about what compassion means to them. Through this simple gesture, people are moved to contemplate compassion and inspired to act toward the alleviation of suffering in the world.

You can support David’s work by buying his e-book: Compassion: Davis, CA or by visiting his website What is Compassion and adding your concept of compassion to the compassion cloud.