“Focus on the doughnut, not the hole!”
-Dr. Garry Landreth
The way to be compassionate every day is to create a positive reality around you. Instead of focusing on the ‘hole’ of what you don’t have, focus on the ‘doughnut’ of what you do have. One way to do this is to create a positive ruminating cycle by identifying a trigger to a negative ruminating cycle and reframing it into a positive.
Think about the last time you acted in an emotionally aggressive way with a loved one. What assumptions did you make about their intentions? What assumptions did you make about your own intentions? How did those assumptions set your perception filter so that you believed that emotional aggression would fix things? What reality did you actually create by acting on those assumptions and perceptions? What alternate assumptions could you have made that might have led to a different outcome?
The way to create positive, compassionate outcomes in our lives is to deliberately choose to focus our intention on the positives. This is accomplished by asking ourselves two questions to establish our intention before acting. The two questions are:
- What am I trying to accomplish?
- Will my actions and behaviors achieve what I’m trying to accomplish?
These questions may appear obvious at first, but they are not as obvious as they seem. For example, if it is my intention to have a happy marriage, yet by my actions and behaviors I am constantly criticizing my spouse, are my actions and behaviors actually achieving my intention? Will my actions accomplish my goal?
By first asking myself, “What is my intention?” before acting, I can avoid the temptation to do or say things that are contrary to my desired outcome. If your intention is to be compassionate with your loved ones, make your actions fit your intentions!
Even if you are angry in the moment, it is still possible to choose a positive outcome. If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to be compassionate in the moment, you can at least choose to do and say things that won’t actually harm the relationship. Imagine that if we could get everyone in the world to agree that if they couldn’t act out of compassion, they would at least do no harm. If we could simply agree that everyone in the world would choose not to act in a way that harmed others, we’d eliminate wars. We’d eliminate hatred and acts of violence. We could transform the planet!
So if you find yourself in a situation in which it is impossible to muster compassion, promise yourself that you will at least make the effort to avoid harming others. When you are able to do so, you will be able to create more positive realities in your life.