Practicing Compassion in our Everyday Lives

A few Saturdays ago we went to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts to see the completed Buddhist sand mandala before it is deconstructed in May. It also happened to be a free day for museum admission and something called Slow Art Day, where you were supposed to take your time to enjoy the displays. We were bumped and jostled about as we stood listening to the story of the mandala a woman asking a million disruptive questions, ranging from where the monks stayed while they were in Nashville to what kind of permit was needed to throw colored sand into the Cumberland River.

The theme of the mandala is “compassion”. Compassion is the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help them.

As we stood suffering through the endless questions, the people not wanting to wait their turn for a better view, and the guy that actually asked Angie to move, I starting thinking about compassion. The word most often comes to mind when we think of people affected by disasters, starving children in foreign countries, homeless vets living on the streets, and so on, but compassion is actually a lot smaller than that.

Take a look around you right now. Chances are the person next to you is not hungry, homeless, or in physical pain at this very moment but what about the suffering you can’t see? What is that person’s home life like? What burdens are they carrying with them today? For that matter, what burden are you carrying today? Even the happiest people in the world have worries and concerns. Just because we can’t see them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist or deserve any less of our compassion.

To me, compassion is kindness and kindness is something we can practice every day in every single situation with every person we encounter. And it’s not something that needs to be noted.

So often we see posts on social media about random acts of kindness. People point out their own “thoughtful” behavior – buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, returning a wallet dropped on the street, carrying groceries for a neighbor, or taking time to talk to someone on the bus. All of these things are great and in my opinion, this type of thoughtful behavior should be commonplace, not random. We should all make a conscious effort to practice compassion.

Standing there at the mandala, I decided to put these words into action and show kindness to the strangers around me because…

Just like me, these people were at the museum to enjoy the exhibit.

Just like me, they had questions.

Just like me, they wanted to see and learn.

Just like me, they were pursuing happiness. 

And just like me, they need love, understanding, and the freedom to enjoy life on their own terms. 

Despite our differences, we all have a lot in common as human beings. To treat our fellow man with apathy or disrespect is to treat ourselves the same.

 

March Recap

Today, we made a major life-changing decision. We’re going to buy a house – and not just any house. It’s a 3,000 square-foot Colonial in the ‘burbs with a pool and a 3-car garage, on a full 3-acre lot. And guess what! It has a white picket fence! Sure, we know we’ll both have to go back to work full-time to pay for it but man, it will be sooo worth it to have our own piece of the American Dream. Who cares about travel anyway?? We can do that when we get this thing paid for in 30 years. After all, we’ll only be in our 70s.

Yeah, right!! April Fools!! 

March might have been a crazy month but we didn’t loose our minds completely LOL. We’re pretty content to live off one income in our nice-sized 750-square foot apartment, where our only debt is a rapidly dwindling student loan. So how crazy was March, you might wonder. Let me just tell you.

On the positive side…

  • We had two major goals for this month – renew my passport and pay off our car. I’m happy to say, we did both.
  • Angie and I both read 3 books. One of mine, The China Study, was a beast to get through and I thought for a while it might be the only book I read in March. If it had, it would have been worth it. We gained a lot of great information on the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet from the book.
  • Speaking of eating plants, we had 17 entirely vegetarian days this month (or 78 meatless meals, if you break it down that way). Every meal (but one) that we ate while on vacation was meatless and we even dined at 7 different restaurants. Our “new” food of the month was brussel sprouts.
  • On the topic of vacation, we made progress on a few things from our Happiness Project Bucket List during the week we spent in Georgia and Florida, including finding 11 letterboxes. Though we camped twice, I’m reluctant to mark that off our list since we were mostly just stopping for the night rather than camping for the sake of being outdoors. One of our overnights was quite the adventure though. You can read about it here.
  • We were able to log several great walks and hikes in March. We hiked 26.8 miles and walked 68.2. We even found two new trails in our area.
  • We watched 4 documentaries, including A Place at the Table (Amazon Prime) and Sustainable (Netflix).

On the other side…

  • I didn’t blog as much as I wanted to. I think I only had 5 posts for this month.
  • Our trip to Florida was wonderful but it made me a bit sad (which is not exactly what we were trying to accomplish). As much as I love my family here in TN, walking our beach and seeing our friends made me very homesick and I think the few weeks following our return were unnecessarily hard (ie. busy) because of that.

On the fence…

  • I can’t decide whether we had a good month financially or not. We had 11 no-spend days, which seems like a great accomplishment but we went over-budget on groceries/household goods by $180 and spent an extra $142 on miscellaneous stuff. However, we also saved $566. So…maybe I’m just being hard on myself for the added spending and it really was a decent month. Yeah, let’s go with that.
  • Side hustles were down. We only made $20.65, mostly off of Easy Shift, but I’m not ready to call this a complete negative. We spent more time doing other things besides side-hustling (some were good, like our vacation and hiking, and others just plain busyness).

If you’re keeping up with our food finds, here’s our March tally. Note – these finds represent only 10 visits to the dumpster. We shared this month’s food with 3 other people.

  • 3 pounds Fuji apples + 22 mixed apples
  • 11 plums
  • 6 limes
  • 40 navel oranges
  • 21 blood oranges
  • 7 Cara-Cara oranges
  • 4 – 5 oz. containers of mixed greens
  • 1.5 pints blueberries
  • 6 oz. raspberries
  • 6 zucchini
  • 3 heads of cabbage
  • 1 head brocolli
  • 2 grapefruits
  • 4 pounds grapes
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 8 red potatoes
  • 10 pounds Russet potatoes
  • 3 quarts strawberries
  • 1 bag brussel sprouts
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 2 bell peppers (red & yellow)
  • 3 dozen + 3 eggs

Here are a few of the highlights from March:

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How was your month?