Choose Compassion Over Judgement to Thrive in Community

Judgement says, “I see you; you’re different from me.” Compassion says, “I see you and we’re in this together.”

Judgement makes us unavailable for new information; compassion opens our hearts and minds.

We spend a lot of energy being concerned about other people’s judgement of us for any number of reasons. Too often, our worry prevents us from doing things we might really enjoy like meeting new people or having new experiences. What we forget is that other people’s judgement of us reflects something in them and has nothing to do with us.

People are going to judge us; that’s a fact of life. It’s how we respond that makes the difference. When we choose our response, we must remember that we don’t have to take everyone’s opinion on board because their view isn’t about us at all. However, if we feel their judgement is warranted, we can ask ourselves what we can learn from it.

People have judged me because I’m short in stature. Truth be told, being small has been a ticket to the front of the line more times than I can count, and I’ve never felt that my height was a disadvantage. You know what they say about good things coming in small packages, right?

When I worked in mainstream television, I had someone tell me that I was too short to work on TV. I mean what do you do with a comment like that? Truthfully, I was offended and what I learned from that encounter was to lighten the moment because I understand that people don’t necessarily intend to offend. It happened quite a bit over my career because our beautiful imaginations project all kinds of qualities onto the people we see on television that don’t necessarily match with reality. When someone would say, “I didn’t expect you to be so short,” I’d say “well you have to be small to fit into the box” when televisions were shaped more like a box. It lightened the moment and diffused any awkwardness for the person making the comment. That’s employing compassion in the face of judgment and for me it is always the right thing to do.

“We cannot always do great things on this earth.  We can only do small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa

As much as we find it easy to judge others, we have an equal supply of compassion we can call on. It may not be our first thought but remembering that we’re in charge of our responses to other people, we can choose again and select compassion instead of judgement any time. It takes practice but it’s a habit I strongly recommend nurturing, especially when we’re living in a community. You never know how the compassion you show someone else is going to impact their day. One small act of kindness, instead of judgement, can make the difference between someone feeling alone or feeling included.

When we care about other people and act from an intention of compassion instead of judgement we benefit because we feel good, our family, our friends, and our community all benefit too because the intention and the action coming from compassion help to lighten the moment and diffuse any awkwardness, just like I did with the people who said silly things to me.

“Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.”Pema Chodron

There is one very important piece about compassion and judgement that we can’t overlook. Nobody is more judgmental of you than you are, and I think that needs to go. I wouldn’t want your fear of making a mistake, saying the “wrong” thing, or failing at something to prevent you from enjoying your life and trying new things. When we’re compassionate toward ourselves, we stretch what’s possible in our lives. If something difficult or painful happens, think of how you might comfort someone you care about and say those things to yourself. Take good care of yourself; when your body wants rest, listen, and give yourself a rest. Cultivate a habit of speaking kindly to yourself about yourself. Accept yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings as they are without trying to change anything. This practice of being nonjudgmental softens us and increases the compassion we feel for ourselves, which in turn makes it easier to be compassionate toward other people.

Here are a few ideas to help nurture the habit of being compassionate:

  • Listen. Being a good listener means asking questions and listening without having to talk about yourself or offering advice.
  • Put yourself in someone else’s place. Imagine what it must be like to be new in your community for example and invite someone new in by making them feel welcome. If someone in your community is going through a tough time, send a card or drop off a thoughtful gift to let them know you’re thinking of them. Ask them how they’re doing and just listen with compassion. If someone is celebrating something, the same thing applies. You never know the impact you can have on one person or many people just by letting someone know you’re thinking of them.
  • Say encouraging things to others and know that they feel better for having been in your company. 
  • Use the words thank you as often as possible.

Compassion is one of the keys to living well. Remember we’re all human, we all have a story, we all have feelings, and we are all in this together.

Managing Diabetes

Knowing what foods raise your blood sugar levels is an excellent start to managing your Diabetes. In this short video, Nurse Dawson at Fitness Powers will review what food types you need to be mindful of in your diet. Small changes in consumption of these foods can lead to big rewards. Click here to watch the video. 
 
For more information on making healthy behaviour changes with eating, check out the link below to Diabetes Canada, or contact Tracy Reid at fitnesspowers@gmail.com for a personal health coaching session.
 

Thriving In Community

I remember my first day on the kibbutz in Israel. I was a twenty something Catholic girl from Montreal moving into a community I knew very little about; frankly, I was overwhelmed. Over my three months stay as a volunteer, I would be rotated through working in the kitchen, laundry, orange groves, cotton fields and helping with young children. I made friends among the volunteers and the kibbutzniks; I learned about a rich culture of collaboration, kindness and inclusion. The overwhelm I felt at the start was replaced with a feeling of deep admiration and connection with a community that felt more like family.

The aspect of kibbutz life that impressed me the most was how families were integrated and elders were revered. I enjoyed many conversations with older people, who had settled the kibbutz and soaked up insights from them on the importance of sustainable gardening and the beauty of growing older. They felt their importance in the kibbutz culture and when I came back to Canada, I was reminded of how we’ve had it so wrong for so long. I knew we were missing the gift of being able to hang out with and learn from people who have accrued a lot of wisdom over their lifetime.

Many years later, when I learned about The Wellings model of community living, something resonated deeply with me. In my mid-sixties at the time, I was now becoming one of those older people and I recognized that there was a great wave of us entering an important stage of life. We’re interested in being active, social, feeling part of community and we want to choose how we invest our precious time. The folks who designed The Wellings communities recognize that we are all important and we matter. I feel honoured and excited about the work we do to support people in making the next chapter of their life one of the best.

When we are part of a community that wants the same things such as comfort and convenience, connection with others and freedom to do as we please, the only thing we must do is realize how to maximize the experience. None of us are irrelevant, regardless of our age or our abilities. We need to accept that there will be challenges, just like every other stage of life but we don’t want our challenges to define our experience.

Which brings me to the subject of happiness and the question: what really makes us happy? The first answer most people give is either family, children or grandchildren which translates to feeling seen and feeling part of community. While we all have something to contribute to our family and our community at every stage of life, having an open mind and an open heart as we age means we’re receptive to new ideas, we’re interested in hearing other people’s stories, and we want the best not only for ourselves but for everyone in the community.

Once we have clarity around what’s important to us or what makes us happy, we can prioritize that in our everyday activities. One thing we must understand is that if we want to feel valued by others, we must make the first move and show others why we’re valuable instead of waiting for others to acknowledge it in us. If we want to feel kindness in our community, instead of waiting for others to show kindness to us, we need to pledge to be kind to others.

Kindness is one of the most important qualities in any human being at any age and it’s powerful. Dr. David Hamilton a physicist turned kindness expert explains that every act of kindness we do impacts at least five people: first, you benefit because your brain produces dopamine (known as helpers high). When you feel good, you produce oxytocin, which causes the release of nitric oxide, which reduces blood pressure and is said to be cardio protective. Oxytocin is also said to slow aging by reducing inflammation in the body. We are all wired for kindness so when we’re kind it’s much easier to make connection and form relationships. Obviously, the person receiving your kindness benefits and so does anyone who observes the act of kindness and anyone they tell about it. Added bonus: kindness is contagious, so you never know who you’re inspiring by being kind.

There are so many mixed messages in our culture about getting older and we want to support ideas such as ageless living, where your age doesn’t matter but who you are does. Just like life on the kibbutz, we want to encourage cooperation and collaboration in community instead of complaining and above all we want everyone to know that they are important, and they matter.

Reading reference: The Five Side Effects of Kindness Dr. David Hamilton, Hay House 2017

The Best Medicine Is Laughter

Did you know that Adam & Eve were the first to ignore the Apple terms and conditions?

By the way, have you heard the rumor going around about butter? Never mind, I shouldn’t spread it.

When life gives you melons, you might be dyslexic.

But don’t you hate it when someone answers their own questions? I do.

Have you stopped to consider that people who take care of chickens are literally chicken tenders? And now a poem by Anne Scott:

“Missing” 

I’ve hunted near, I’ve hunted far
I even looked inside my car.
I’ve lost my glasses, I’m in need,
To have them now so I can read.
I loudly swear and I curse
Did I leave them in my purse?
Are they behind the sofa, under the bed?
Oh there they are—on my head!

We just wrote a song about tortillas; actually, it’s more of a rap. 

Communist jokes aren’t funny unless everyone gets them. But despite the high cost of living, it remains popular.

Have a wonderful day, and don’t forget to laugh!

The Four Agreements For Life Long Happiness

Don Miguel Ruiz, a best-selling author of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, explains the origin of self-limiting ideas that rob us of joy and cause needless suffering. It is based on ancient Toltec wisdom. In this blog, we’ll explain how to use The Four Agreements, a straightforward “code of behavior,” to find happiness in your own life. The Four Agreements are, in their simplest form, as follows:

Be Impeccable With Your Word

According to Ruiz, signing this agreement signifies accepting responsibility for whatever you say and write. It can be rephrased as “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” and pertains to integrity.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Why do we absorb someone else’s behaviors and words when we all have different beliefs, ambitions, and goals? It’s a typical error. This agreement emphasizes the importance of not giving people any power and that all they say and do is a projection of their reality. People are much more cooperative and focused on finding solutions rather than placing blame when they don’t take things personally.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Our time and energy are most significantly wasted when we make assumptions. This agreement promotes the idea that the ideal course of action is to ask questions in place of beliefs and to listen intently until all of your premises have been confirmed or corrected. Others can avoid this trap by maintaining an open line of communication.

Always Do Your Best

Although “always do your best” sounds like advice from your parents, it is always a good idea. According to Ruiz, your “best” varies from moment to moment and from circumstance to circumstance. In truth, giving your best effort doesn’t equate to doing too much, working too hard, or going “overboard” on anything. So said, it is being there and being who we are, even if all we can do at the time is listen. What benefits most from giving it your all? Self-criticism and remorse are never allowed to exist,  eliminating any room for self-criticism, lamenting the past, or undermining our efforts. It feels liberating to go through this.

Living The Four Agreements help us become self-aware and teach us how to control our emotions by preventing them from becoming reliant on others. We are considerate of others, in tune with ourselves, and effective communicators. We get more self-assured as we become aware of our driving forces, give everything our best effort. 

Incorporating The Four Agreements into our lives has helped us experience more freedom from limiting ideas and anxieties and find happiness, which has not only brought us to the Wellings community but also keeps us happy, focused, and inspired to continue growing in this area. We encourage you to do the same!

 

A Strong Heart

Do your part. Care for your heart. We will do ours and are going to pump you up. Love, your heart. Did you know that heart disease is first in both men and women’s causes of death? Take action now to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

What you can do to help prevent heart disease is:

  • Eat well and exercise.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke and stop smoking.
  • Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Use alcohol sensibly only.
  • Reduce stress.

This week, consider taking a brief stroll, remember to live healthily, and stay young at heart.

How You Begin Your Day Is How The Day Will Roll Out

What’s your favourite time of day? You might guess from the title of this blog that I favour mornings. I believe that what I do for myself first thing sets me up for the day. I start with gratitude as soon as I wake up, reminding myself of all the good in my life: a comfortable bed, a home I love, work I love to do, that kind of thing. Then it’s onto affirmations and a glass of lemon water before coffee enters the picture. Lemon water helps with hydration and digestion as well as vitamin C and affirmations help direct my focus. I say things like “this is going to be a great day,”  “I am capable,” “I am adventurous” to name a few. It took some time to implement the habit of saying affirmations but after learning from author and speaker Louise Hay that affirmations are rooted in the idea that our thoughts can influence our health and our mindset for the better, I was inspired to try them. Ten years later, they’re part of my daily routine. Affirmations as simple and direct as these examples can benefit how we think about ourselves:

I appreciate what my body does for me each day.

 – I keep myself in good health with regular activity, great connections and nutritious foods.

– I am enough exactly as I am.

– I am adventurous and willing to experience things outside my comfort zone.

– My happy thoughts help create my healthy body.

“The past is gone. Today is full of possibilities.”  
Karen Casey

Having a morning routine can be a game changer and I have found that gradually adding in healthy habits really supports me and provides a solid underpinning for how the day will go. After I make my bed (which makes me feel like I’ve already accomplished something) and have coffee, I include either yoga and meditation or a walk outdoors in the morning, to help me feel both calm and mentally energized for the day.

I think we all know that good nutrition plays an important role in how we feel; I’ve learned from experience that for me it has to be sugar, caffeine and spicy foods in moderation. I do my best to include lots of fruit and vegetables as well as good quality protein but in all honesty my pandemic eating plan included too many potato chips and some days I was definitely on the see-food diet: if I saw food I’d eat it. Joking aside, the unspoken stress of the last few years has tested my good habits but has not deterred me from returning to what I know is good for me.

“With the new day comes strength and new thoughts.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

You’ve heard the expression “dance like nobody’s watching?” That may be exactly what you need to do as part of your morning routine, if you don’t enjoy going to the gym. Including some kind of movement early in the day seems to clear out the mental cobwebs and increase circulation. Movement doesn’t have to be fancy; it can be walking in your neighbourhood with a friend, catching up as you go. Research tells us that getting out in daylight first thing in the morning helps keep our sleep/awake rhythm in check. Move for ten minutes a few times a day or thirty minutes in the morning while you have the energy to get it done. Fitting movement into our day is easier when we’re not pressuring ourselves to do what everyone else does. Find out what works best for you and do that. Move to enhance mental clarity, increase your energy, improve your mood and sleep as well as strengthen your muscles.

I think it’s important to start our day with the intention of not overwhelming ourselves. I find having a list for the grocery store helps, so I can add to it as needed. I also like to make sure I have a “to do” list for tasks that are both immediate and long range; this way I don’t have to keep track of all of the information in my head. Put a little fun on your “to do” list every day too by adding an activity or an experience that you know will make you happy. It could be calling a friend, writing an appreciation note for someone, reading a book or enjoying your favourite refreshment in the garden. We’re so used to taking care of everyone else before ourselves that if we don’t write it down, it might not happen.

Try journaling to either express some feelings you might be experiencing or to help solve a challenge in your life. Sometimes, I enjoy journaling about what I love: food, experiences, people, or activities. I also love to write down what I’m grateful for (it’s a long list). I think you’ll find that this exercise can be a powerful tool to help clear out mental clutter.

However you begin your day, incorporating healthy habits benefits your health on all levels and having a good self-care practice incorporating some of these ideas is a great reminder to yourself that you are important and you matter.

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