I’m finding I can make difficult experiences more meaningful by using them to cultivate compassion.
For instance, let’s say I’m feeling lonely—needing more love and companionship in my life. Feeling lonely can be uncomfortable, and loneliness can seem bleak and meaningless. However, I can make my experience of loneliness more meaningful by using it toward a compassionate end. I can consider the countless other beings who are also experiencing loneliness right now, and I can use my experience of loneliness to cultivate more compassion for all of us. I might even widen my compassionate field of view to encompass all beings in the past, present, and future who have ever experienced loneliness.
It seems to me that most experiences can be made more meaningful in this way. If we want to, we could use practices like this to turn every moment of life into an opportunity to cultivate compassion and benefit others.
Making our experiences more meaningful benefits us, as well. For instance, when I’m feeling lonely, I’ve often found that this practices decreases my loneliness, helps me feel more connected with others, and even helps me feel more joyful and energized.
(I learned the practice above from the Lojong teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.)
Photo Alaska’s Pavlof Volcano: NASA’s View from Space (by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.