Ways to Cultivate Happiness: Love, Kindness, & Empathy

What are some good things that happened to you recently? For me, I was feeling all the positive emotions at summer camp drop off this morning. Random, right? This is what happened: a mom that came to my book talk on my chapter (re)Birth in the anthology Deserts To Mountaintops: Our Collective Journey To (re)Claiming Our Voice called out to me as I walked to the car. She made a point of grabbing my attention to let me know she had finished reading the book.

I was taken aback and immediately enthused. We parted ways quickly (it was summer camp drop off and you can never drop the kids fast enough) so I didn’t have a chance to dive into her thoughts and feelings on each of the empowering chapters in the book. Yet, I must assume the book made an impact, assumingly positive, on her. Otherwise, why would she have mentioned it?

This made me think. It made me think about the 24 soul-filled stories that comprise the book. Each narrator facing their struggle and taking the bold move to get themselves out of their desert and up to the mountaintop.

These stories are beautiful and courageous recountings of what life is - stories of ignoring intuition, losing a loved one, depression, chronic pain, sexual and physical abuse, lack of self-worth and value – and that isn’t even everything !

Before joining the Deserts to Mountaintops project I didn’t know my fellow authors – I did not know their stories until I read their chapters, and it was after reading their chapters that I met them in person. I looked at each one of these women and saw such joy, kindness, strength and resilience. And I realized if it weren’t for Deserts to Mountaintops I would never be aware of what valley each woman had been in, nor what it took them to make their journey out of it.

I think about this when I meet new people or have a random interaction at a shop – I have absolutely no idea what deserts and mountaintops they have been through to make them the person they are that I am interacting with in that moment. Because of this, I do my best to function from a place of empathy; from the idea that everyone is good inside, whether in that moment they are acting that way or not.

I Choose Love and Kindness

Our June theme is cultivating happiness. What better way to cultivate happiness than to function from a place of love, kindness and empathy? In truth, I can think of no better way, which is why today’s mantra is I Choose Love And Kindness.

I choose love and kindness when someone makes a snide remark; who knows what kind of day they are having? I choose love and kindness when someone cuts me off while driving; who knows where (and why) they are trying to get to? I choose love and kindness when someone needs help; who knows why they are struggling?

Conversely, we are human and not always on our game – who knows what kind of day we may be having, or what place we are functioning from? And for those times, may we hope that another person is choosing kindness and empathy and understands we’re good inside, and in that moment we just need a little love and patience to get us through.

With love and kindness,

signature ilsa with xo