The Boat and Two Arrows

Imagine yourself lying in a small rowboat on a calm lake, enjoying the gentle rocking of waves.  When all of a sudden another boat bumps into your boat, startling you with a loud bang and a sudden jolt.  Initially you’re angry — someone else deliberately bumped into your boat and interrupted your quiet moment.  What an ass!  However, when you sit up and look at the boat, you notice it’s empty.  The wind and current you were enjoying a moment ago pushed this other boat into yours.  Yet now you’ve lost concentration and your tranquility along with it.

Your discomfort is a result of two metaphorical arrows being shot at you.  The first arrow was the initial surprise and shock of another boat running into you.  The wind and current shot this arrow at you.  However, the second arrow was the anger that took away your calm state of mind.  You shot the second arrow at yourself.

The first arrow could not be avoided — you cannot control the other boat.  However, the second arrow could have been avoided.  If you were not so quick to assign blame and hence become angry, you could have continued to enjoy your serenity even after the initial disruption.

I expect this hypothetical story sounds familiar.  We commonly invent scenarios in our heads before we know all the facts.  We make assumptions about other people and we let those assumptions anger us, which creates a false distance between us and others.

Compassion breaks down assumptions about people, and hence lessens anger and its control over our mood.  Through practicing compassion we can avoid shooting ourselves with a second arrow.  Without shooting a second arrow we’ll be nicer to both friends and strangers, and we’ll be happier, too.  Try not to shoot the second arrow.

Story credit: here and here.  Photo credit: here.

A Little Inspiration Goes a Long Way

The following inspirational speech was given to the San Francisco Giants when they were nearly eliminated in the semi-finals leading up to the 2012 World Series.  The speech was given by Hunter Pence, an outfielder who had joined the team earlier in the year.

“Get in here, everyone get in here. Look into each other’s eyes, now! Look into each other’s eyes. I want one more day with you. It’s the most fun, the best team I have ever been on and no matter what happens, we must not give in. We owe it to each other; play for each other. I need one more day with you guys. I need to see what Theriot will wear tomorrow. I want to play defense behind Vogelsong because he’s never been to the playoffs. Play for each other, not yourself. Win each moment, win each inning. It’s all we have left.”

The Giants went on to win three games in a row to win the semi-finals.  Then they swept the Detroit Lions to win the World Series.  Sometimes a little inspiration goes a long way.

Source: here.