For February, the focus of the Positivity Project is on practicing loving kindness. Some of my assignments lately have caused me to realize not every state employee has the luxury, or even the choice in some circumstances, to experience positivity like I do. I’m thinking of our correctional officers who work with our adults in custody. I’m thinking of our mental health therapists and nurses who care for our patients in the state hospital. And I’m thinking of our soldiers who get deployed to war zones. I worry that sometimes my positive messages may not resonate with them. Do they think I’m naïve? And I also know that these messages are important for everyone because everyone can benefit from optimism, assuming positive intent (versus having a negative judgment) and looking for and giving kindness.
Those who regularly practice loving-kindness meditation are able to increase their capacity for forgiveness, connection to others, self-acceptance, and more. The technique is easy to practice and can provide a sense of calm in minutes. I recently saw a video of Army psychiatrist, Elizabeth Guinto, that helped me to realize all of us, no matter our work environment, can benefit from practicing the exercises in the Positivity Project, especially this month’s focus – loving kindness. I encourage you to take five minutes to watch the video. I’ve provided the steps below for your convenience.
Step 1. Think of a situation that is causing you stress, that is difficult in your life.
Step 2. See if you can feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body. Is it tight in your neck? Are you tensing your shoulders?
Step 3. Say to yourself, “This is a moment of suffering.” Don’t judge your own statement. Just feel what’s real for you.
Step 4. Say to yourself, “Suffering is a part of life.” Feel a connection with humanity. Recognize that you are not alone. Other people feel this way. We all struggle in our lives.
Step 5. Put your hands over your heart and say, “May I be kind to myself.”
Other examples may include:
- May I give myself the compassion that I need.
- May I learn to accept myself as I am.
- May I forgive myself.
- May I be strong.
- May I be patient.
Be kind to yourself. I may not know you and may not have worked with you. I probably can’t even imagine what some of you have seen and experienced on the job. Thank you for showing up and for the work you do. I hope I get a chance to pass kindness along to you someday soon.