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Mindful : February 2017
2 Create Ripple Effects Turns out, kindness and generosity are contagious. A 2010 study discovered that when we witness generosity, it inspires us to be more generous. In fact, researchers found that the ripple effect of this kindness spreads by three deg rees. Acting compas- sionately does the same thing. Where can you pay it forward today? 3 One Thing a Day Look around and notice who in your life is having a difficult time and could use some support. The gesture can be big, such as bringing a meal to the infirm, or relatively small, such as sending an email or note to let someone know you’re thinking of them. Begin the practice of doing one thing each day for someone else. → Compassion is the feeling that naturally arises when you learn of the suffering of another, and that motivates you to want to do something to help. Far from being just a social nicety, compassion has a great evolutionary purpose: Human offspring are the most dependent and vulnerable of any species, and need the most care from others to survive. This total dependence is why Charles Darwin said that sympathy is humanity’s strongest instinct (see page 59 for more). Simply put: Without compassion we wouldn’t survive. If you find yourself feeling less moved than you’d like—or maybe your empathy muscle has grown a bit weak from lack of use—here are some ways to strengthen it. You, and every other living creature, will benefit from the results. Survival of the Kindest 1 See Beneath the Rough Exterior When someone acts unpleasantly or is just generally difficult, it’s hard to feel compassion for them. But there’s almost always a reason for such behavior. If we can pause and try to recognize this, our heart can soften and create an opening for the possibility of greater connection and healing. Is there a “tough personality” in your life thatyoucantrytoseeina different light? 11 Ways to Live a Compassionate Life By Elisha and Stefanie Goldstein 30 mindful February 2017 LIVING | how to live a mindful life Illustrations by Colleen MacIsaac