One of the things I would love to learn before I die is to keep my heart soft towards other people even those who don't seem to deserve it (which might be me to someone else anyway).
The concept is tied up with compassion and forgiveness but I say keeping my heart soft because the wording literally feels in my chest like sinking into a soft sofa as opposed to living life braced up against a rigid wall.
It has an upside and a downside.
The downside is at first the idea sounds a bit like offering yourself up as a sitting duck or a weak or naive thing to do. But that is not the same thing. Again remembering that continuing to argue is a totally exhausting way to live and never works. Whenever I get triggered and jump in I only fuel the craziness.
I started listening to a ton of wiser people than me and am slowly learning to step back and draw healthier boundaries but the biggest breakthrough has been then meditating on what happened in a person's life to make them this way.
For example say you know someone who always takes the contrarian view even when it makes no sense and causes a ton of suffering. But then you find out that as a small child they were told cruelly and repeatedly by a parent that they were stupid and it was incredibly distressing.
You still don't go along with their ideas but all of a sudden things are easier to understand. And almost every prickly negative adult is underneath an insecure frightened, semi-conscious human more or less doing their pitiful best, same as all of us. I also can forgive myself when I do this for myself.
This brings another whole different feeling about in my chest, soft and compassionate.
I still get triggered sometimes but this has been the best gift to myself this year. Things ahead won't always be easy but there is openness in that place in my chest where the wall was.
Here is some soothing music for these times! I wrote this song seven years ago about the unfolding of everything and it still feels true today.
And this is All That I Am, featuring wonderful poetry from my friend Paul Adams which I played horn on.