Have compassion for yourself
I want to tell you why I have been writing this letter for 12 years – it is to help you to live with compassion for yourself and others. That is what has guided my writing for over a decade.
And, I want you to spend the next month, the month of December, focusing on the first part of that goal: compassion for yourself. That may sound counterintuitive or untimely, given that we are entering the season of giving. We just shared Thanksgiving Day with friends and family, a time specifically set aside to contemplate what we are thankful for. And with Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and all other holidays that celebrate the deep dark days of winter, our gratitude for a good harvest, our trust that the sun will return and that the days will grow longer and life will be warm again, directly ahead of us for another four or five weeks we all partake in this season of giving. Which is a perfectly good, noble, time-honored thing.
However, the last 70 years in our country and even the whole world – the post WW2 era – have changed the day-in/day-out way that we actually live. Our lived experience (as contrasted with our nostalgic one) has been manipulated, thwarted and distorted by industrial and economic development that it's possible we may enter this season of giving with cynicism, fretting, and self-recrimination. If this rings true, even mildly true, please don’t succumb to that.
I encourage you to spend the next month focusing on compassion for yourself. You cannot take care of those that you love if you are not yourself in good health. You cannot contribute to your community or make your mark on the world if you do not begin with compassion for yourself. Be sure that you are attending carefully and honestly to your own mental and physical health. Put yourself first. This may sound selfish or simply impossible. It's neither. It doesn’t have to be anything that’s huge or hard or all-in-all-at-once. Find small ways and persist. In order to live the golden rule – to love your neighbor as you love yourself – you have to love yourself. Do the inward work first. And you can
Without going overboard, between now and the end of the year, try harder to be compassionate for yourself. Ease and happiness will naturally follow.