Hatred. Ignorance. Oppression. Prejudice. Inequality. Intolerance. Fear. Discrimination. The list of adjectives to describe the darker aspects of American society as displayed this past Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia is vast. The content of this blog post has morphed significantly as events have unfolded, and the horribly shameful response by our nationally elected leaders nearly led me to abandon the idea of writing about the link between mindfulness, compassion and social justice all together because, really, who the hell can feel anything other than anger and fear at a time like this? But then I recalled a quote by the Dalai Lama that I sometimes use in therapy when helping my clients practice self-compassion: "Love and compassion are necessities, they are not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive."
Forty-seven percent: This is the amount of time most of us spend doing one thing while thinking about something else according to research published in 2010 in Science Magazine by investigators Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert. In other words, we spend about half of our lives on autopilot, in our heads, and missing out on our life as it’s happening. What is even more concerning is that those same researchers, who aimed to study the link between mind wandering and happiness levels in over 2,000 adults in the U.S., found that all of this mind wandering is highly correlated with the extent to which we are happy, or, in reality, unhappy. It seems that the more we are lost in our thoughts about the past, the future, or the never-even-going-to-happen, the more likely we are to be unhappy.