Compassion is the new fro-yo

Lately I’ve been hit with this fact: everyone has problems.

I should get a medal for discovering new things.

But really, there’s a reason this is in my brain. See, everyone has issues that are real and need attention. They’re all important, and some are really, really big. Like, too big to handle on our own. (Though, God knows we try our hardest to do things alone).

All of my friends and family have problems and stress. And everyone’s issues are unique. And most of them (most of you, and me) are trying to do everything behind closed doors, and be all tight-lipped and independent about it.

Well, it’s annoying.

I just watched this TED talk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en

It’s about how stress can be a good thing. And the thing that stuck out to me the most was the fact that, when we get stressed, our natural brain-reaction is to release the hormone that makes us want to be around other people. In other words: when you get stressed, your entire being does everything in its power to make you turn to others.

selah.

I mean, we all know it takes a village. People groups in African countries and others all around the globe have had this figured out for millennia. Westerners have a lot of catching up to do, in lots of areas. (Don’t even get me started on the health sector, East vs. West… ugh.)

Ok, but then there’s this other side to things.

Most of the time people feel so bogged down by their own issues that caring for others seems damn near impossible.

Or completely impossible.

Nursing homes are booming. All that jargon about putting yourself first is rampant in our cultural vernacular.

We’ve successfully convinced ourselves that, in order to love others, we have to love ourselves first.

I have been wanting to call B.S. on this for so long, and I am finally doing it. Right now.

bull. s#$*.

Focusing on yourself first doesn’t help you love other people better, it makes you self absorbed. I submit to you that we are seeing the error of this kind of thinking much too clearly right now. It’s like forming a habit — if you do something for long enough, it becomes a habit. So, too, with selfishness.

We all know that the world = crazy. But some things I just can’t let go.

In order to love others better, you just need to… love others better. And more often.

If you’ve got something going on — something big — and I come to you with something big of my own, what’s your reaction? Maybe you try to listen, but deep down you’re thinking “ugh, I really can’t handle this right now. I’ve got enough on my mind — I don’t even know what to say. I’m the one who needs an ear and a friend right now!”

Or maybe you suppress your feelings and, as a result, resentment and emptiness ensue.

Here’s a gorgeous hypothetical: what if we, each one of us, decided to put others first, in all ways? And all the time?

What if I deemed your problems as more important than mine? And I still paid attention to my own feelings (cuz you can’t ignore yourself, that’s not healthy)… but I just paid more attention to you and yours than to myself?

C.S. Lewis puts it so brilliantly. He says:

humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

What would happen if we all did this? What if we made this the new trend, like frozen yogurt was in the ‘80s?

I can only imagine how much better things might get.

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