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The WAY to Living Optimally

Quite some time ago I wrote about my WAM program for personal success, What About Me?I wrote about three steps to “me,” to self-compassion, including: Welcoming yourself as a friend,  Acknowledging your strengths and successes, and recognizing that,  Mindfulness promotes it all.  Now it’s time to complete this artful plan for optimal living and turn to WAY, What About You?What […]

Quite some time ago I wrote about my WAM program for personal success, What About Me?I wrote about three steps to “me,” to self-compassion, including:

Welcoming yourself as a friend, 

Acknowledging your strengths and successes, and recognizing that, 

Mindfulness promotes it all. 

Now it’s time to complete this artful plan for optimal living and turn to WAYWhat About You?What about the others in your life?

The first step towards ultimate self-compassion, WAM, rests on the Jack Kornfield observation, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”  If you recognize that from another, far more ancient observation, you are not incorrect. You see, there is no “new wisdom.” No, there is just ancient wisdom said in a more current, stylish, manner. Hillel, the wise sage, noted in Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14  “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?”  And Marcus Tullius Cicero said it just a bit differently “We are not born for ourselves alone.”

If you are only for yourself, who are you? For genuine victory, for significance, you cannot stay within yourself, focusing on “me,” but wisely move out into the world of others while sharing in “me” and “you.” 

To be concurrently focused on yourself and on others requires:

1) careful listening to yourself and others, 

2) speaking words from your heart, 

3) having a selfless mindset (especially when no one is watching), 

4) having genuine pleasure in another’s happiness and success,

5) valuing the priorities of others,

6) being kind to yourself,

7) understanding that when you assist others and help make someone else’s life better, you are doing a double lift—and getting double exercise. 

For as John Holmes noted, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” Perhaps that’s what led Booker T. Washington to notice that the happiest people he knew were those who did the most for others.

If you are only for yourself, what are you? It’s been said that a storyteller makes up things to help others, while a liar makes up things to help himself. Which are you?

In a presentation at the University of Pennsylvania years ago, researcher Kathleen Vohs shared, “Happy people get a lot of joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.”

Now, let’s get to WAY

W When you help others succeed, you succeed best and quickest. It’s a near instantaneous experience, one that surely brings a smile and a good feeling. 

A Acknowledge, validate and empathize with the words, needs and feelings of others. If you were in the shoes of a friend, co-worker or neighbor how would you want to be treated? While the “golden rule” says “treat others as you would have them treat you,” I believe the “platinum rule” yields much greater joy and benefit: “treat others as THEY wish to be treated.”

“Yes” to others while being sure to respect yourself and your own needs in the process.WAM and WAY, must be in balance. Forgiving and forgetting allows you to move forward without harming yourself in the process, while demonstrating a superbly selfless act.

Want to build your character, contribute to the health of yourself, your family and your company or workplace, and help create a more positive environment? Want to conquer your pride, expand your mindset, and create true loving friendships? Want to live longer, protect yourself against depression, have a natural “drug-free” reduction in anxiety, lower the risk of hypertension, reduce symptoms of heart disease and chronic pain and boost your immune system? 

It can be done. “No way,” you say? I say yes WAY!

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