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Finding Compassion in a Big City

New York City. The city of a million dreams; a projected kaleidoscope of neon lights. I had always imagined my future in its skies filled with skyscrapers and its streets roaming with people, fashioned in a color wash of eclectic expression. So, when I finally moved here, to find corners of its most visited streets and subways frequented by the underserved and homeless, I tried to seek out the heart of what mends a people. My first observations and reactions of compassion in the city were of hope. During the holidays, everyone seemed to be in merry spirits. People were donating to funds and giving money amply to musicians, veterans, dancers, and people who were impoverished.  I tried my best…


Character Counts

By Ellen Mongan Sesame Street is celebrating fifty years of broadcasting.  For five decades they have been invited into homes around the country to educate young and old alike. You never know who you will meet on Sesame Street or what life lessons you will take away? Sesame Street was always a welcoming part of my everyday life while raising my seven children. As we watched the show together we grew together. I used the show’s topic each day as a springboard for teaching character to my children. At the end of each broadcast, having a catchy tune playing in my head was commonplace for me. I would usually hum along. The words are still quite familiar to this day.…


The Psychology of Being a More Thoughtful and Kind Person

The Psychology of Being a More Thoughtful and Kind Person I take a psychology class at school, and, as the year comes to a close, I’ve learned a lot about human nature and our capacity for kindness.  I’ve learned about the reality of altruism, the bystander effect, and the Milgram experiment.  I’ve learned about egocentrism and theory of mind, and the ways in which we develop concern for and understanding of others.  I’ve learned that there are a lot of psychological phenomena that give us reason to be selfish, and I’ve wondered why we still don’t put in the effort to be kind to one another. Altruism is the belief in or practice of selfless concern for others.  We all…


Little Things Done With Great Love

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks, as if they were great and noble.”  Who do you think said that?  St. Therese, the little flower of Jesus? St.  Teresa  of Calcutta.  St. Teresa of  Avila? No! The correct answer is Helen Keller. I wonder if you are as shocked as I was at the answer. Yes, Helen Keller, a blind deaf woman who could barely talk, not only is known for this quote, but also lived this quote. Helen Keller spoke volumes even though she could barely utter a sound. Anne Sullivan taught her how to have eyes to see, a voice to speak out and ears to…


Growing Kindness with Yeses

There are so many self-help books out there that teach people to say “no,” to draw boundaries, to claim their space, and stick with it. What if kindness resides in the “yeses” and not the “noes?” What if with each “yes,” we are showing others that we are willing to carve time into our day to sit with them, to listen to them, and to share some insight with them. What if we grow with every yes? A new possibility unfolds and we allow ourselves to change according to that moment? What if, kindness is simply the ability to live in each moment and consciously choose to shape that moment through acts that would benefit another? I’m not suggesting saying…


Loving Your Own Company

One thing we are constantly informed of is that humans are social beings and that being alone is one of the greatest afflictions we can endure. Mix that with the pressures that we all experience; reconciliation of self-identity, images of our best selves, and our desires to be moral, helpful people. It can seem like we have some very large shoes to fill, our own. These common psychological afflictions contribute largely to a decreased sense of self-worth, and a sense that we are not as good right now as we should be. It is important to be able to be content with yourself and still give yourself room to grow and change for the better. There are a couple of…

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