|Just One Thing (JOT) is the free newsletter that suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind.A small thing repeated each day adds up over time to produce big results. Just one thing that could change your life.(© Rick Hanson, 2010)
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This newsletter comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, PsychologyToday.com contributor, and meditation teacher.
See Rick's workshops and lectures for therapists and the general public.
Why? Friendliness is a down-to-earth
approach to others that is welcoming and positive.
Think about a time
when someone was friendly to you - maybe drawing you into a gathering, saying
hello on the sidewalk, or smiling from across the room. How did that make you
feel? Probably more included, comfortable, and at ease; safer; more open and
When you are
friendly to others, you offer them these same benefits. Plus you get rewarded
yourself. Being friendly feels confident and happy, with a positive take on
other people, moving toward the world
instead of backing away from it. And it encourages others to be less guarded or
reactive with you, since you're answering the ancient question from millions of
years of evolution - friend or foe? - with an open hand and heart.
In its own quiet
way, ordinary friendliness takes a stand that is almost subversive these days:
that the world has many more opportunities than threats, that most people want
the best for others, that simple informal human connections tie this battered
old planet together much more than jumbo corporations or mass media flickering
on the walls of our upholstered caves.
How? You can be
friendly with intimates and strangers, co-workers and in-laws, babies and
bosses - even those you know only in the abstract, like people on the other
side of the world.
course, it is not always appropriate to be friendly with someone, such as to an
adversary, or to someone who would misunderstand you. But opportunities for
greater friendliness are probably all around you this week.
To warm up your
brain's circuits of friendliness, you could try one or more of these:
· Recall being with someone who cares
· Remember when someone was friendly to
· Bring to mind a time when you were
friendly to someone.
· Get a sense of the posture, movements,
gestures, and facial expressions of a person you know who is naturally
· Relax your body into a feeling of
friendliness: leaning forward a little, rather than back; softening and opening
your chest, face, and eyes; breathing goodwill in and out.
Then look for
everyday opportunities to be friendly. Often you'll just give a smile,
handshake, or nod - and that's plenty. Maybe it's offering a few minutes to
talk. Or a morning hug, or goodnight kiss. Or an extra touch of warmth in an
but stay within the range of whatever is authentic. Remember that friendliness
is not agreement or approval; it does not mean you have given up on whatever
your stances may be in the relationship. Friendliness does not equal
friendship; in truth, most relationships are with friendly acquaintances.
Consider your family
and friends. What about being more friendly with your lover or mate? Having
worked with couples for many years, it's painful to see how often basic
friendliness is a casualty in a long-term relationship. Or being more friendly
toward parents, siblings - or your own children? Again, it's startling how
easily friendliness can be crowded out of our most important relationships by
busyness, little irritations and hurts, or weariness from working too hard. But
bits of friendliness, sprinkled here and there, can be absolutely
transformational in a relationship. Try it and see!
Also consider being
friendlier toward people you might normally ignore or treat with distance, even
coolness. Such as wait staff in restaurants, someone shuttling you to the
airport, or - breaking the big taboo - strangers in an elevator.
See what happens. Take
in the rewards, like one small log after another, fueling that warm glowing
fire on the hearth in your heart.
My Offerings· Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom - Written with a neurologist, Richard Mendius, M.D., and with a Foreword by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and a Preface by Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., it's full of effective ways to use your mind to change your brain to benefit your whole being.
· Meditations to Change Your Brain - Three CDs of powerful guided practices, plus practical suggestions, for personal transformation.
· Meditations for Happiness - Downloadable program (3 CDs worth) on gratitude, inner protectors, and coming home to happiness.