“Have you thought about what your inspirational word is going to be for the new year?” asked my therapist Dr. A. I didn’t hesitate. I had a perfect inspirational word in mind. It came to me easily. There were signs all around signaling my new inspirational word. And now with the state of our country — between the mounting cases of Covid-19 and actions on our Capitol last week, I believe in this word even more.
“It’s compassion,” I said to Dr. A. “Compassion with a big C. The world needs more compassion so we can heal from our losses of the past year and the divisions that are creeping into this one. My family and friends need more compassion so they can continue to manage through this raging pandemic and ease into a new normal once it passes.
Celebrating another sixty-something birthday last week made me realize that I too need to practice more compassion toward myself. I’m still grieving family losses of 2019 and 2020 and new ones that I just learned about in 2021.
Compassion builds on allow — my inspirational word of 2020. Speaking of birthdays, look what my horoscope at Elite Daily had to say about Capricorns for 2021:
OMG! Did this astrologer read my mind? Does she know me? My horoscope for 2021 is spot on – I am not the person I used to be. I am happy with the progress I’ve made on my self-care journey in 2020 and now I intend to reach deeper with compassion in 2021. Whether it’s the whirling worries that crowd my mind, the heavy losses that weigh on my heart, or the weariness that overwhelms my body after a sleepless night, compassion can help me conquer all.
What is the meaning of compassion?
Now that I’ve picked my inspirational word for 2021, I must delve into its meaning. Wikipedia says:
“Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves. Compassion is often regarded as having sensitivity, which is an emotional aspect to suffering.
Compassion involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering and experiencing the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it. An act of compassion is defined by its helpfulness. Qualities of compassion are patience and wisdom; kindness and perseverance; warmth and resolve. The difference between sympathy and compassion is that the former responds to suffering from sorrow and concern while the latter responds with warmth and care.
Ranked a great virtue in numerous philosophies, compassion is considered in almost all the major religious traditions as among the greatest of virtues.”
Can you see why I love my inspirational word?
OMG, I think I love my inspirational word. It’s so a part of me that I can’t wait to cultivate compassion — more and more and more — during 2021 and during the rest of my life after 60, 70, 80 and hopefully into my 90s.
Compassion includes self-care
Dr. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University says that picking a word of the year is a nice self-care exercise to help you make yourself a top priority in 2021. She says your word should describe “the goals, values or mood you want to set for 2021.” Dr. McGonigal says, “Your word can be anything that matters to you: community, family, exercise, love, health, energy.” She suggests using “your word as a mini mantra throughout the year to remind yourself to make self-care a priority.”
I like Dr. McGonigal’s suggestions, I’m going to make compassion my mini mantra each day. In fact, I think I’ll add this self-care exercise to my daily journaling. In addition to reminding myself of three things I’m grateful for at the end of each day, I’m going to write down how I cultivated compassion for myself and others too.
Compassion for others
At the end of 2020, I was frustrated because I wanted to help my community but wasn’t sure what to do. Being a former PR exec, I did some brainstorming to figure out how I could use my yoga skills for a good cause.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, what if I teach gentle yoga classes on Zoom and all the proceeds go to the local food bank?
I’m pleased to say that spark led to the JudiBoomergirl Yoga Fundraiser for the Food Bank of South Jersey. I provide online yoga classes through Zoom and payment for the classes is direct through charitable donation. It’s a win-win-win. All constituents are nourished: I get to teach yoga during the pandemic; participants benefit from my gentle yoga classes; and the food bank receives donations to help feed the hungry.
Thanks to family and friends who took JudiBoomergirl gentle yoga classes in November and December, I was able to reach my 2020 fundraiser goal of $500.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, this is such a great way to bring my inspirational word to life! That’s why I’m continuing JudiBoomergirl gentle yoga classes on Zoom in 2021. If you would like to participate in my classes or simply make a donation, you can find out more information at the JudiBoomergirl Yoga Raising Funds For Food Bank of South Jersey page.
Compassion is good for the brain
Now that I’ve chosen compassion as my inspirational word for 2021, I tune in whenever I hear it mentioned in the news — like last Sunday during Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s interview on CBS Sunday Morning, when he was discussing his new book, Keep Sharp – Build A Better Brain At Any Age. CBS’s Dr. Jon La Pook asked Dr. Gupta about the brain and compassion. “Empathy, kindness and compassion they do a lot for the brain,” said Dr. La Pook.
Dr. Gupta smiled and responded, “They are the ultimate nourishment for the brain. Every sight you see, every sound you hear, everything you touch and the feeling that you have through empathy, through these connections with people is all nourishing the brain. It’s really good for the brain. It’s why we live.”
I’m dropping the mike now. Compassion — it’s a wrap.