Walking in Someone Else’s Moccasins

by Eileen Campbell

We often forget how similar we all are underneath our external appearances.  It doesn’t matter what sex, age, race, upbringing, or religion – deep down we all want the same thing – to be happy and avoid pain and suffering.

When we remember that there is a spark of divinity in every one of us, it’s easier to refrain from criticizing or blaming someone because of their behaviour.    Not that it’s any great surprise that we rush to judge others, since we’re quick to berate ourselves for failing to live up to our idea of what we think we should be.  We give ourselves a hard time when we make mistakes and say and do things we wish we hadn’t done, or don’t say and do things it might have been better to have said and done.  If we can’t be kind to ourselves, we’re unlikely to be kind towards others.

Each of us is on a path, and we can never know what someone else’s path is. If we think about our own lives, we know that through our many experiences we are constantly learning and changing.  Events force us to change and grow.  Poets, philosophers and mystics of many persuasions have portrayed the world as a school where we come as souls to learn.  Others too are learning and changing just as we are.

Walking in Someone Else's Moccasins

The Native American saying, ‘Do not judge someone until you have walked a mile in their moccasins’, reminds us of the need to stop and reflect before we criticize or judge someone.  How can we know the reasons for their behaviour unless we put ourselves in their shoes?  Having empathy for others is not always easy, but what we can do is recognize that the divine spark is there in them, just as it is in us.

This doesn’t mean that we condone the other person’s behaviour, but it does mean that we don’t get caught up in a spiral of negativity. If instead we can cultivate empathy, through awareness and listening to their story, then compassion can be the result.  This applies whether we’re dealing with our most intimate relationships, our work colleagues, our neighbours, or even strangers.

When we try to see something from another’s perspective, then we move closer towards tolerance and acceptance of difference.   We begin to recognize our shared humanity, and the deep connection we all share, as different cultures in the past once did, and as indigenous societies still do today.

All the great humanitarians and teachers of different religious traditions have stressed the importance of compassion.  The so-called Golden Rule of treating others as we would wish ourselves to be treated runs through all religions.  ‘My religion is kindness,’ says the Dalai Lama.  The Talmud, the Jewish Book of wisdom, claims, ‘The highest wisdom is kindness.’  Jesus told us to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’  The Koran asks, ‘Do you love your Creator?  Then love your fellow beings first.’

The perceptive writer Aldous Huxley, having explored mysticism and altered states of consciousness, said on his deathbed, ‘Let us be kinder to one another.’  We may not be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, but when we recognize the divine spark within someone, we will naturally be kinder to them.


Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.

9781573246705

Flourishing in a Dysfunctional World

by Eileen Campbell

All of us want to flourish – to live a life that makes us feel happy and fulfilled and be the best we can be.

Yet it’s hardly surprising that in today’s world many of us end up suffering from anxiety and stress.  To start with, there’s the endless stream of news stories percolating through the media reminding us of how dysfunctional our society is, whether it’s the latest bombing or a mass shooting, an epic man-made environmental disaster, or yet another downturn in the economy – there’s always bad news of some sort (after all that’s what the media thrives on!), and it’s hard to avoid it.

Then there’s the sheer pace of life today.  It’s hectic, and we struggle to keep up with a huge array of tasks and commitments.  Our heads spin with information, and we’re on a tread-mill with our consumer lifestyle – both consequences of the material progress we’ve made in the last decades.

Flourishing in a Dysfunctional World Eileen Campbell

As women we’ve ended up juggling careers, home, children, and relationships, whether with our significant other, our parents or our friends and neighbours; we’re short on time and leisure; and definitely lacking in the sleep department.  We keep on keeping on.  We say we’re fine, whilst we frantically multi-task and try to cope.  But heck, this isn’t flourishing!

Deep down we know this.  In our heart of hearts we suspect there has to be a better way of living our lives.  We also know that sooner or later chronic stress and anxiety are bad for us and can result in burnout.   Serious mental and physical problems can ensue.  One in four of us will experience depression of some kind at some point in our lifetime.  Insomnia, adrenal depletion, heart disease, poor immune function and memory problems are all possible consequences too.  The stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline increase our heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which is all well and good if we happen come across a lion in the street, but as a constant reaction to everyday events and circumstances it’s disastrous for our health and well-being.

So how can we best deal with stress and take back control of our lives so that we can actually flourish?  There are a number of things which help, but the most important one is to stop, slow down, and focus on ourselves.  Self-care isn’t a luxury.  It’s essential!  As women we’re often programmed to care for others rather than ourselves, but the best way of caring for others is to make sure we look after ourselves first.

We have to be disciplined enough to create space for ourselves every single day, no matter how busy we think we are.  Thirty minutes is sufficient, and we can choose to do something just for ourselves. We might want to go for a walk in the park and smell the roses, or enjoy a bicycle ride, or do some yoga, or tai chi. We may feel we want to simply relax and do absolutely nothing, but it’s usually helpful to have a focus to stop the mind chatter.

We might want to do something creative like drawing, sewing, reading a poem, writing in a journal, or playing a musical instrument. If we can take a little more time for ourselves, then having a massage is wonderfully therapeutic.  One of the best things we can do, however, is to practise mindfulness or meditation, both proven to lower anxiety and stress.

It doesn’t matter too much what we choose, but we need to find that time on a regular basis to switch off from the constant activity and stimulation that we’re caught up in, and focus on ourselves.   When we do take the time, something shifts.

What shifts is our perspective.  We begin to rethink our priorities and make changes.   Taking time for ourselves becomes our top priority.  We may want to work with affirmations and cultivate more positive emotions.  We may well find that we want to increase the amount of time we set aside each day.    Our strength and confidence grows and we become more effective, feel more connected, and are more able to withstand life’s challenges.  Flourishing will become second nature!


Eileen Campbell is a writer of inspirational books, including a successful series of anthologies described by the media as “treasures of timeless wisdom,” which sold collectively around 250,000 copies. She has studied with a variety of teachers from different traditions and brings a wealth of knowledge and life experience to her books. She is known for her pioneering and visionary career as a self-help and spirituality publishers, and has also written and presented for BBC Radio 2 and 4. She currently devotes her energies to yoga, writing, and gardening. She lives in England. Visit her at http://www.eileencampbellbooks.com.

9781573246705