10 Qualities I Aspire to Live By

I recently read Dr. James Doty's book, Into the Magic Shop. It is his memoir and is centered around the change that was made in his life when he when into a magic shop at the age of 12 and met a woman by the name of Ruth. She taught him meditation, although he didn't have a name for it at that time. He ignored some of her advice until after he made and then lost $75 million dollars.

He came up with a list of 10 as I call them qualities to live by or to have. The first of these is compassion. I feel that compassion for yourself is as necessary as compassion for others. Compassion, I think, helps me to reduce the amount of judgmental I have in my mind. If I can find a way to look at someone and see the possibility of the hurt, illness or whatever it is troubling them, that causes them to act in a certain way or say certain things, then I can have some compassion even as I believe that what they are doing or saying is harmful. 

I couldn't find a picture for the next 2 qualities on unsplash.com. They are dignity and forgiveness. I don't think having dignity precludes having fun or seeing the world with child-like wonder. I just think it means taking a breath, pausing, and then acting or talking. 

Forgiveness is something we all struggle with. I am pretty sure that forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. I believe it just means detaching from whatever has hurt me, and then letting go of the hurt. Forgiveness is an act that is as much for me as for the person I want to forgive. Sometimes it means saying OK, I have to work with this person, so I'm going to let go of being angry and hurt at what happened so that my life is easier. I know this one well as some people at my last job tried to get me fired, which did not happen. I had to take a number of deep breaths and act as if nothing had happened. I was able to interact with them in a way that colleagues should treat each other. I did not, however, forget what they had done, I was able to let the hurt and anger go so that I could function in this job that I needed to pay my bills. I think that is a form of forgiveness.

The next quality Dr. Doty lists is gratitude. I believe that a gratitude practice helps us see the beauty and joy in the world. It can remind us that something exists besides pain, anger, fear, and loss. My current gratitude practice is using the phrase thank you as my mantra during meditation. There are times this lifts me into bliss. Other times it's just a recognition of the beauty that exists. Other times it's a reminder that my what I have in my life so much more than others and where I live is so much safer than other regions in the world. I try to remember to be thankful for my food, for water to drink, for the home I am blessed to have, and so on and so on. 

I could not find a photograph on unsplash for the next 2 qualities, humility and integrity. I know that Micah 6: 8 says that the things that God requires of you is to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your god. It does leave out integrity, but somehow I think it must be intertwined with these. Seemingly then, a number of the qualities that Dr. Doty talks about have been striven for for centuries.

Humility, according to Wiktionary, is having the quality of humbleness or being humble. It also says that, in a religious sense, it is transcendent egolessness. One of the synonyms is modesty. I suppose this means that I don't assume I'm always right, that someone else's opinion has worth. That someone else has as much worth as I do.

Integrity seems to me to be living by using right speech and right action. Speaking in a way that is not hurtful if at all possible, saying things that you intend and that you can live up to. Right action is acting a way that is helpful and useful. 

Well, justice is, well, justice. It's being just, fair and impartial - as with the figure of justice that our judicial system uses, having scales that hopefully are balanced and not letting personal perceptions blind us to what is fair.

The next quality on Dr. Doty's list is kindness. Kindness is practiced with a gentle touch, a gentle word. It is knowing when to help and when not to help. It is a warmth of spirit that touches others and helps heal the hurt, the pain of another. It is the giving a gift just for the pleasure of seeing someone else's pleasure. I am sure that the actions that have the quality of kindness is almost endless. I agree with the photograph. It is magic.

And, Dr. Doty's last quality is love. As John Lennon wrote, "All you need is love." Well, maybe not all you need, but if you have love first and foremost, many other things such as compassion and kindness fall into place. This one is more than just romantic love, it is love of family and friends, love of the world, and extending love outward.

I hope that, the more that I live by these qualities, the more I can live with an open heart and a generosity of spirit.


The 1st 2 images are from my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be. The rest  are from unsplash.com. The photographers are:

Gratitude: Gabrielle Cole
Justice: Joel & Jasmine Forestbird
Love: Steve Halama
Kindness: Robert Baker

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