Browsing the blog archives for August, 2013

Wake Up Call! – Loyal?


Loyalty is measured by what you say about your friends rather than what you say to them.

I have a friend who is socially inept and annoying. My antenna was on alert when I heard mutual acquaintances dismissing her. Their comments were not inaccurate.

It would have been easy to become part of the complaining circle but instead I found myself telling a story about our friend.

As I spoke about her recent devastating loss and how it has impacted her life I was struck by who expressed empathy and who carried on as though nothing had been said.

I discovered new respect for those who expressed concern for our friend and was surprised by those who were cavalier and disconnected. I gave thanks that night for those whose loyalty was expressed with honesty and radiant compassion. How will I talk about others today?


  • Listen to how you speak about those whom you call “friend”

  • Be attentive to your empathy and compassion for another

  • Be aware of how your loyalty to those in your circle is expressed

Notice how loyalty is an expression of your inter-connectedness with others.

Share a story about loyalty here.

Pass this on! – 5 Tools for raising compassionate kids

How do you deal with difficult colleagues?

Check out – Reboot Your Life

Is disillusionment a positive gift?watch Robert’s TEDx Talk

A New Way to Be Human – available at Amazon, B&N and your local Indie book store.

Join Robert on Twitter and Facebook

©2013 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Upheld?


Be open to those who uphold you and your well-being.

I was surprised when a relative stranger asked me, “How can I pray for you this week?” The unexpected question caught me off guard.

I could have dismissed it as the work of an ingratiating do-gooder. Instead I looked her in the eyes and expressed my gratitude for the question.

The warmth in the smiling eyes I encountered put me at ease. Surprising myself, I mumbled something about wanting to be less anxious about a work deadline.

The resulting conversation was a reminder to live each day in the present because worrying about tomorrow or regretting yesterday keeps me distant and removed from the only day I have – today. Upheld by the passing care of this person I wonder whose well-being I will uphold today.


  • Be aware of the simple acts or words of others that uphold you

  • Who will you uphold today?

Notice how upholding the well-being of one another draws us into the circle of life.

Share a story about being upheld or upholding another here.

Pass this on! – 5 Tools for raising compassionate kids

Check out – Reboot Your Life

Is disillusionment a positive gift?watch Robert’s TEDx Talk

A New Way to Be Human – available at Amazon, B&N and your local Indie book store.

Join Robert on Twitter and Facebook

©2013 Robert V. Taylor

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Wake Up Call! – Unclutter Your Life?



Unclutter yourself from life-draining images you once thought were normal.

Marcus said, “I spent decades knowing only a harsh, judgmental religion that was my dad’s. I felt an immobilizing shame about it. But I’m on a great adventure of discovering a spirituality that is life-giving.”

Instead of remaining enclosed by old images Marcus choose to unclutter in order to discover new life.

With mindfulness Marcus began to name the judgment, fear, control and submissiveness of a constraining past; he developed rituals for releasing them and from the power he had given them.

The result is that Marcus has been free to discover a spirituality of love, kindness and compassion that nurture and challenge his daily life. “My life feels uncluttered, expansive and engaged as I continue to grow; these new truths are life-giving” he said.


When you unclutter your life:

  • Be honest about naming that which you are detaching from

  • Offer them without rancor to the care of the Universe

  • Invite compassion, love and kindness to reside in you

Notice how uncluttering opens you to a new normal of life-giving spirit and energy.

Share a story about uncluttering here.

Pass this on!  – 5 Tools for raising compassionate kids

Check out – Reboot Your Life

Is disillusionment a positive gift?watch Robert’s TEDx Talk

A New Way to Be Human – available at Amazon, B&N and your local Indie book store.

Join Robert on Twitter and Facebook

©2013 Robert V. Taylor

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5 Tools for raising compassionate, empathetic kids

how to raise caring children

Robert V. Taylor

This piece first appeared on the parenting website August 5, 2013

Are youth today heartless? A University of Michigan survey says today’s college students are 40 percent less empathetic than the same age group in 1980.

While that is an alarming statistic, my personal experience and field research with parents suggests another story. It has to do with the role we play in the lives of young people in our orbit.

Raising kids to be compassionate and to have empathy is possible.

The good news is that multiple studies say children as young as toddlers have innate feelings of compassion and empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to imagine walking in the shoes of another. And compassion is the emotional response generated by the suffering of others and then wanting to act on it by helping.

Research also says the empathy, compassion and the resulting kindness they instill are key ingredients to a life of happiness. What we do as adults matters in raising children to further develop those innate responses. Here are five tools that we can each incorporate into our lives.

1. Choices

The choices we make as adults are like tweets. They are powerful shorthand communications to the young people around us. One mother told me about taking her young child to the shelter for homeless women that she volunteered at once a month.

The women of the shelter gravitated to her daughter. “Tell us about your school. Do you have a home to live in? Do you have friends?” they wanted to know. As mother and daughter left the shelter the young girl said, “It’s really cold out, Mom — do all women have a place to sleep?” Her mom believes in truthful answers and so she said, “No, but these women do. That’s why we need places like this to provide a bed until they can get a home.”

Years later this same child orchestrated efforts in a local community to raise money to feed the hungry. A value had been tweeted to her daughter. A child had created a human connection with people she would not ordinarily meet. She was cultivating empathy.

2. Giving

The unique interests of young people invite giving. A father and son have bonded in their mutual love of baseball. Baseball is the passion in this young man’s life and has become an opportunity to give. The son spent a summer volunteering in a baseball camp in the Dominican Republic. Giving of himself, he got to know people he would not ordinarily meet. He could walk in their shoes.

There is no hierarchy in giving. One parent offered this wisdom. “Let your children’s passions drive their giving.” Adults can add context. Holiday celebrations — from Chanukah to Ramadan, to the Festival of Lights and Christmas — invite conversation about what they mean for the happiness that comes from giving. Secular holidays like Labor Day and Martin Luther King Day invite stories about giving of ourselves to something larger than our self-interest.

3. Service

Service is the conduit through which a child’s empathy leads to acts of compassion. One parent told me that the most important service projects have come from her children’s seemingly “silly” ideas. “Follow the lead of your kids,” she urged.

Her 6-year-old was determined to make peanut butter and honey sandwiches for people living in a homeless tent encampment. Knowing that these particular sandwiches might not be ideal, the mom didn’t say that it was a “silly” idea. Instead, they agreed to take food to the camp on a pre-determined future day. In the build-up to it, mom and daughter went shopping for food items that could be used in the camp. On the scheduled delivery day they took the bags of food along with a small platter of peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

A parent listened to the lead and intuition of her child. It became an opportunity to talk about the food that might be most needed but also honored the heartfelt idea behind the sandwiches. Adult awareness and listening to the desire to serve is as illuminating as the orchestrated service projects of a school, faith or community group.

4. Stories

Adults who take time to share their stories can leave a powerful impact on a child’s imagination. A young person’s experience can be an equally powerful story. A mom accompanied her nine-year-old daughter on a choir trip to Nicaragua. Arriving a few days before the rest of the group, they were given a tour of a garbage dump where children lived and scavenged for food.

The guide offered this advice about a potentially harrowing experience, “Look for one child in the dump. Concentrate only on that one child. Look into his or her face.” A young boy was among the first to climb onto a newly arrived garbage truck hoping for the first choice of trash from which to eat. As the young girl focused on him he tried to stare her down and finally broke out in a broad smile, waved and ran off.

That night the daughter did not want to write in her Nicaragua journal about the experience but asked her mom to. “Only if you let me read back to you what I’ve heard you say to make sure I’ve it right,” said the mom. Now in college, this young woman never forgets the story of the young boy foraging for food in a garbage dump. It is part of her story about compassion, empathy and kindness.

5. Glean

No matter your own tradition, gleaning from the wisdom of spiritual traditions is a way to invite reflection on choices, service, giving and stories. How does the Buddhist concept of happiness for all relate to the experiences of young people? Is there a meeting point between this and Christian notions of love and compassion, Jewish ideas of repairing the world and Muslim injunctions to give to good works?

Gleaning from the treasure trove of wisdom becomes an opportunity to talk with young people about commonality with people of many traditions. Gleaning invites imagining the life of a child who is Buddhist in Bhutan, Christian in Ethiopia, Jewish in Argentina, Muslim in Indonesia, Sikh in India or a Hindu in London — or those in their school or community.

These five tools are your navigation kit. How we as adults engage with the youth in our orbit matters greatly. It is the difference between standing by helplessly as heartless youth grow up without encouragement to be empathetic and compassionate, or being active participants who help children develop their innate capacity for being empathetic, kind and compassionate people. The studies reveal that our kids will have the added benefit of knowing greater happiness in their lives.

We’re all in this together.

About the author:

Robert V. Taylor is a speaker, commentator and author of A New Way to Be Human: 7 Spiritual Pathways to Becoming Fully Alive. He is President of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, which works to inspire young people to create a world of peace within, among and between people. He lives in Seattle and on a farm in rural Eastern Washington. Find him online at

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We need to remind ourselves of the oft quoted but sage advice that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”–despite any difficult circumstances that may have come our way, we have the gift of choice, the gift of self determination. In turn, weaving in those two realities, allows us to chose to allow the positive and reinforcing the beauty all around us; that includes ourselves. If we allow that we have things of beauty ourselves, we can be sensitive and generous in seeing our brothers and sisters as God’s gift to us, and act accordingly. Just think of all the decreased headaches we would have…

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Everyday the rising of the sun poses us in the midst of God’s beauty. As I rise with the sun, I am thankful that I too, am a petal within the midst of God’s beauty; therefore, I am beauty and responsibly for sharing with others, some of the beauty that God has breathed into me.

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Wake Up Call! – Beauty


Celebrate and honor the beauty within you.

“I’ve spent a lifetime comparing myself to the beauty of other people” said Cyndi adding, “I felt like a vampire trying to appropriate the beauty and goodness of others.” In a meditation class she was offered the word “Beauty” to meditate on.

Instead of pushing back against the word she intuitively understood her need to engage with it.

As Cyndi paid attention to her breath and body the chatter of old conversations about her lack of beauty began to be muted.

The result is that Cyndi has become aware of the beauty that exists in the gifts she has. It is celebrated in her ability to bring people together; honored in the warmth with which she puts patients at ease in her practice. She says, “Celebrating beauty within me I now appreciate the beauty of others instead of envying or lusting for it.”


  • Engage in spiritual or meditative practices about beauty

  • Offer negative images of yourself to the Universe

  • Be awake to beauty in your gifts and name them

Notice how celebrating the beauty within you honors your relationship with yourself, others and the Holy.

Share a story about beauty here.

How do your stories shape your heart? – Dad, Welcome as You Are

Check out – Reboot Your Life: How to make a New Habit Permanent

Is disillusionment a positive gift?watch Robert’s TEDx Talk

Here are 3 Reasons to Share Your Story

A New Way to Be Human – available at Amazon, B&N and your local Indie book store.

Join Robert on Twitter and Facebook

©2013 Robert V. Taylor

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