It’s spring and time for gardening metaphors. It’s snowing outside in Minneapolis and yet this feels like winter kissing us goodbye. The temperature and the soil are warming, ready to make a hospitable environment for plants. Gardeners know, though, that enriching the soil helps make for a more vibrant garden. They add compost and other nutrients that help make plants grow.
What kind of nutrients are necessary to enrich the well-being of yourself and the people you care about?
In a recent talk, Thupten Phuntsok described the way meditation can help us identify helpful and unhelpful ways of thinking.
“When we begin the practice of meditation, we notice that our minds are disturbed. There are things going on in our mind that go against our own benefit, against our own well-being. These are the kind of thoughts and the actions they motivate are considered to be unskillful. You start to notice ‘these are the kind of thoughts bring chaos to my mind. They put me at a distance from the peace and happiness that I want to achieve.’ And you start to notice other thoughts that when they are present ‘my mind starts to feel at peace and naturally at ease. I am able to see more clearly.’ These are the kind of thoughts that promote well-being are called skillful.”
By watching the way our minds work, we can choose to spend more time with thoughts that provide rich soil for well-being.
The well-being of others
Ephesians 4:29 gives us a clue to bring that approach to our interactions with others: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so your words may give grace to those who hear.”
You can start to notice ‘these are the kinds of conversations that bring chaos to my relationships. They put me at a distance from the peace and happiness I want for myself and others.’ That would be in unskillful way of being with others. Or you start to notice ‘when I build people up, my mind starts to feel at peace and naturally at ease. I am able to see more clearly and my relationships are more compassionate.’
What does it mean to build people up? Truly listening and walking beside people where they are. Brené Brown, researcher at the University of Houston, explains it this way:
By watching the way others respond to us, we become aware of when we help them feel better about who they are. Sharing a listening, caring ear will help our relationships be richer and livelier. These are the kinds of interactions that promote well-being of ourselves and others.
By building others up, we provide rich soil for healthy relationships.
When we are at ease with ourselves and others, we find happiness.
What brings you happiness?