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Mindful : February 2015
February 2015 mindful 59 Obstacles to Kindness and Generosity I fear I don’t have much to give to others Generosity isn’t only about giving away things. It can be about offering up our time, energy, or at tention. When we feel burdened by all that we must do in our daily lives, it’s understand- able that we may worr y we’ll be too exhausted to give of ourselves more than we already do. But sharing yourself with others actually renews you rather than saps you. Try to tap into a sense of yourself that is rich and infinite. Then star t giving away little bits of your time or energy with no thought of getting anything in return. Give, Jon Kabat-Zinn advises, as if you had inexhaustible wealth. See how it revitalizes you. 12345 Fear, sadness, anger, and other emotions can obstruct our generosity. Here are some common mindsets that hold us back—and strategies to counter them. Giving may make me appear weak Maybe you are one of those hard-driving people who worries that expressions of kindness and gen- erosity, especially in the workplace, will make you look “soft.” Yet research suggests a strong connection between success- ful leadership and generosity. What you may think of as weakness is likely a place of strength. In situations you might think call for toughness or aloofness, try being generous and tender-hear ted. You may be surprised that people per- ceive your ease with difficult emotions as a sign of confi- dence. I’m angry: People take advantage of me when I give Anger about being taken for granted or taken advantage of pops up for all of us. And it’s true that some people give to others because they want to be liked or valued by others. Try to pay at tention to your motive in giving to others and to figure out when giving is a sign of dependence or insecurity rather than kindness. And remember: Generosity is not necessarily about doing for others but simply being willing to share yourself with them. I’m too sad and depressed to give This may be the best place to star t practicing giving: with yourself. Fear of being kind to yourself—because you are ashamed of past actions or current fantasies or because you’re con- vinced that other people are so much more deser ving— can wreak havoc on your effor ts to be kind. Practice feeling deser ving and giving yourself permission to hope for happiness and joy in your life. My lifestyle doesn’t afford me chances to truly give You don’t have to become a health- care worker in a war zone to be kind and generous. Instead, as you do your grocery shopping or run an errand, look for tiny ways to give to strangers. Give the driver behind you that parking space, help the woman in line unload her groceries from her cart, talk to a stranger—that’s an act of giving as well. Let go of any expec- tation of gratitude or reward. Give when you are not asked and obser ve how the moment changes, and how the act of giving changes you. ●