Check this out... Only one third of abused children go on to become abusers. Revealingly, the majority of that group deny they had been abused when they were kids. In one study, 75% of adult male abusers described events like being beaten black and blue and thrown into a basement and then said the punishment was deserved because they had been such a bad kid. To understand their denial, consider the dilemma of a small child confronted by an out-of-control adult. The child i
First a Story: When I was in third grade our teacher gave us a weekend assignment: Come back on Monday with as many ways to use a toothbrush as you can. The kid with the most different, original ways will get a prize.
I tried really hard. I thought of all the things you could scrub and scratch. I came up with a whole list of things you could poke with the handle or decorate with the bristles. I asked my mom and my big brother and the neighbor lady for ideas. By Monday I
In this world, worthy things don't come easy. Candy is sweeter than carrots and selfishness seems like a more direct path to happiness than service. Without instruction and encouragement it can take lifetimes to learn how empty candy and selfishness can be. So the first way that education can help produce compassionate people is to get them thinking about the distinction between pleasure and satisfaction. It's a kind of tuning - toward accomplishment and away from procrastina
Question: Some think one should suffer to develop compassion for others, but isn't it better to learn to avoid pain through wisdom and foresight? Answer: Oh absolutely! There's plenty of suffering to go around - no need to artificially manufacture any. But suffering can not be avoided in the long run. The practice of compassion does not end suffering, it transforms the way we relate to suffering and the power that we give it. Every instance of the word should could be ha
When I still called him “my rat-bastard-cheating-whore-ex” I wrote the following words on a post it and stuck it on my chest over my heart. It was like a nicotine patch for quitting hate. ‘May you be peaceful, may you be happy, may you be safe, may you awaken to the light of your true nature, may you be free.’ This is what I repeated silently as I thought of him. I did this wondering if ‘you’ meant him or me. I eventually realized that the answer to that question was ‘yes.’ I
The reason for life is ineffable, but here's a story I like: Life exists to experience limitation. Let's say you are an omniscient god. There is an inherent contradiction in this. If you are omniscient you can't know surprise. If you can't know surprise, you aren't omniscient. You have similar issues with omnipotence. If you are omnipotent you should be able to do everything, but you can't want something that you are unable to do. In short, god, you have a problem with your j
There are two spiritual games I play, rackets as Alan Watts might say, as meaningless and diverting as solitaire on my phone. One is spiritual bypass, and the other is spiritual materialism. They are related.
Spiritual bypass is the hope that I can transcend the painful grit of my life by rising above it spiritually. Maybe I won't have to feel my chest and groin torn apart when my lover betrays me, maybe I can just forgive everyone involved - as a saint might do. As it
There are two ways to respond to suffering - one is to focus on the event, the other is to focus on the present-moment distress. Pity is part of cluster of event-focused responses, while compassion becomes possible when we resonate with the level of distress. Event-Focused Sympathy (Contempt-Empathy-Pity) People who are unskillful with suffering tend to focus on the events that caused it. They unconsciously assign a value to what happened. For example, they might classify a
As a person who has to deliver some hard facts at work, I have thought a lot about how to deliver unpleasant news. If my "honesty" is making someone angry, there's a 90% chance I'm speaking about conclusions or judgements and not actual facts. For example, if I tell you that you are "argumentative," that's a conclusion and a judgement, not a fact. The facts might look something like this: When I say "black" you say "white" but if I say "ok, white" you say "no. black" I don't
First, I'm so sorry about the loss of your dog. As you go through this, there are probably some good opportunities to parent. Three rules of thumb:
1) Emotional training is as important as cognitive training. The loss of a loved one is an opportunity to discuss and validate emotions with your son. In order to become competent with our emotional selves it helps to have vocabulary and to tie that vocabulary to embodied feelings. There are many words for types of sad: disap