Sometimes amid the Covid 19 world we live in it is good to hear stories of how people have responded to the needs of this unprecedented event in our lifetimes. We need good stories and thoughts to give us hope. Sr. Maria Fest, CDP writes about an article she read and a workshop she attended that offer us a sign of just how much good there is in the world.
I was attracted to a special Edition of Time Magazine that came out in September, 2020. It is called: The Power of Kindness: Creating a Better Life and a Better World. The publication is divided in three parts: The Science of Kindness, the Culture of Kindness and How to Be Kind. The article I enjoyed most is the one called “The (Real!) Secret to Happiness” (by Camille Noe Pagan) in the last section of the magazine. She says “It’s not money—or even less stress or more time. Research show that a little compassion can go a long way toward making you feel better about yourself and the world around you.”
Interesting enough, Lynn Levo, CSJ also focused on “Leading with Compassion” when she did a workshop for LCWR Leaders which was sponsored by an LCWR and RCRI vendor, Hoffman, Planning, Design and Construction. She said that leading with compassion helps others to uncover or discover their own ideas, feeling, hopes, desires and is more supportive in their efforts to adapt and change; this requires vulnerable truth telling. suspending judgment and affirming efforts as well as genuine expressions of gratitude. REACH is a mnemonic which helps us to remember the steps for leading with compassion: Resonance: the goal to create supportive, trusting positive relations, focusing on others not oneself; Reach out, connect with others ‘thoughts feelings and experience; do not assume you know, rather make room for their story.
Empathy: shift from wanting to be understood to wanting to understand; put yourself in the shoes of the other—hear what they are asking.
Awareness: have self-awareness; be in touch with your own mindset, your own emotions and their impact on others. Remember that your feelings are contagious. Know how to soothe and relax so that you are able to respond rather than react.
Compassion: to be compassionate is to feel with by focusing on the other, responding to their needs in meaningful ways. The emphasis is on caring, warmth and tenderness.
Hope: hope is reality-based, envisioning a better desired future. Hope can only happen with connection to others; a realization that I have choices, knowing how to care for self and reduce stress and anxiety, Hope also happens when one relies on a benevolent, caring, faithful God. (Adapted by Sr. Lynn Levo in part from Oosten, Smith & Boyatzis, Helping People Change, Harvard Business Review Press, 2019)
We are at a unique time. We are experiencing a call to let go and shift from what we have lost to what is new and making a commitment to move on. This is a time of opportunity to explore what the changes mean, what matters most, what we value and what opportunities we have, individually and for our Communities. Times of transition open us to transformation and invite us, challenge us, to find purpose and connection once again. We feel less oppressed because we are doing what matters most—living our values, living our charism being concerned for ourselves and for others.
Perhaps each of us can look for those opportunities to express kindness and compassion in our little corner of the world.
Barbara McMullen, CDP