· Know thy self. Through this, know others. This is so because we share the same fundamental needs as humans.
· At the core of these needs is a need to be treated with real consideration as a complex human being.
· Do this for yourself first and you can begin extend the practice to others. This is compassion. (Or what we could call an expanded edition of the “Golden Rule.”)
· If/when we take this seriously, we will fundamentally alter our lived experience. By extension, we will alter how we are in the world and those around us.
· Our cumulative choices and decisions we make each moment of each day, taken together, form the lives we now know and the person we are.
· However, the choices we make are not wholly our own. We can recognize that we are influenced by a myriad of outside influences, some of which operate on an unconscious level (we are not aware of them).
· Despite outside influences and conditions, we can change our choices and decisions.
· Apart from outside influences, we have an intrinsic knowing. An intuitive sense. We can develop our ability be in touch with this.
· Many people want to live more fulfilling, happier lives and are unaware of how to go about doing so.
· A fruitful starting point is with the awareness of our own feelings and internal states.
· Our feelings and internal states are directly accessible to us. (Though some need practice in accessing them). They provide information about our values and highest needs.
· When we know the answers to the following questions, guidelines emerge for how to live a good life (also called virtuous life, fulfilling life, meaningful life, happy life):
o What matters? (Bring this down to the level of needs.)
o What do I most highly value? Answer this for a) right now and b) in general
o What kind of a world do I want to see?
o What actions and behaviors can I do right now, that contribute to these things?
· Living in integrity means making choices that are in alignment with your values.
· This is not black or white (I am living in full integrity. I am not living in full integrity): We move closer to or further from living in alignment with our values with each choice we make or action we take.
· Feelings of disconnection and discontent point us to areas of misalignment. Extend gratitude to them as they are a starting point for realigning.
· We can use disconnection and discontent as opportunities to turn inward. We can make sense of our discontent and connect with our disconnection.
· We then make new strategies with our increased understanding and move further into alignment. We resolve to do things differently and we take action on this resolve.
· This is a process. You will never arrive, but can learn to enjoy the journey.
· This is not an abstract idea. You can begin at any time with any choice, behavior, or decision no matter how “small.”
· If it helps, remember that there are others who feel as you feel, desire meaningful and fuller lives, and struggle with how to get there. There are two times when I find this practice particularly useful:
o When I feel alone in my efforts or when I feel misunderstood.
o When I encounter difficult situations and need to stimulate feelings of compassion. Do you know anyone at all who doesn’t want to be happy?
Photo Credit: Bob Ramsak / piran café