Terror hit Paris.

I have been offering experiential workshops on Cultivating Well-Being. A couple of months ago, I decided to add a No Matter of What! clause. Indeed, cultivating well-being had started to seem like something of a luxury.

But the attacks reminded me that this is precisely the bite of cultivating well-being: stuff happens, to all of us, in varying degrees of magnitude. The point of cultivating well-being is as much about how to weather storms than it is about enjoying good times more fully, though the latter certainly has its benefits.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the No Matter What! that just shook France alongside other areas of the world. No one could be prepared for that! Amidst the aftermath of the shock and horror, I struggled – like many – with strong emotions and a search for meaning, the most salient one being this deep sadness that my children have to know war so close to home.

This is where a few of the principles from my workshops have helped me. I hope you find them useful too.

Compassion.

A lot of suffering has been, and often is imposed on innocent people. It also seems evident that one doesn’t follow the path of extremism without intense suffering somewhere down the line. Compassion means to suffer with: I am not separate from the people on this planet who suffer, I can feel for and with them.

Self-compassion.

Compassion towards oneself is often more difficult than compassion towards our loved ones. Yet it is just as necessary and beneficial. I am doing the best I can. I lead “Cultivating Well-Being, No Matter What!” workshops but I am still human. I can feel strong emotions and that is OK. I am a human amidst humans and we are all in this together.

Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is often misunderstood. Forgiving is not accepting, nor condoning. Forgiving is refusing to cultivate hatred and violence in me, it is letting go of blame. Not because actions don’t deserve or require consequences, quite the contrary, but because holding onto blame or hatred hurts me and those around me. It doesn’t actually change anything out there. I choose to focus on sending light and love into the world.

Connection.

A generous wave of love and support flowed all over the social networks and solidarity blossomed in the streets of Paris. I felt appeased by that, reached out to friends and family. There is really no better time than right now to tell the people in my life how much I love them.

Resilience.

Something horrible happened. It happens often in other parts of the world and it is always horrible. Somehow, it does hurt more when it is close to home. Yet, how can I, how can we grow from even the horrible things that happen? I am searching for the strength to reaffirm my values and to live them, to reexamine my beliefs and to change those that do not support life, love and growth.

In light and love.