Emotional Intelligence: Practicing the Art of Compassion

“Let our hearts be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

It is not always easy to love, to forgive, and to find compassion for our families and loved ones.  And it is even harder to love, to forgive, and to find compassion for our enemies.

Our enemies, it seems a harsh word. The dictionary defines an enemy as someone who is actively opposed or hostile towards us, someone we have verified as adverse or threatening, a challenger, a competitor, a rival, or our nemesis.  How often have you used these words to describe a friend with whom you had a falling out, an ex-partner or spouse, a family member you are no longer speaking to, a colleague who you avoid in the hallway, or who beat you to a promotion?  We often make these individuals our enemies. We spin scenarios in our brains of what we would like to say to them; if they would just apologize or understand why what they did was wrong, then we could get along again.  We avoid, we spin, we stay angry, we blame, we play the victim – and in all of these cases we fail to grow, we get into a rut, we hold onto an anchor that keeps us rooted in one place, we waste time, and we create internal pain and darkness.

Can We LEARN Compassion?

Yes. We can integrate practices into our lives that cultivate love, forgiveness, and compassion and teach us to be more aware of delivering these qualities under challenging situations.


Building Communities that Ignite Potential

There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests got together to work toward the same goal.

Idowu Koyenikan

The deeper I dig into my work with schools, the more I realize the need to bring tools for wellness, mental health and well-being beyond just the classroom and into the whole community and culture of the school. This includes everyone – teachers, staff, para-professionals, administrators, bus drivers, janitors, parents and families.  The mental health crisis we are now recognizing in our schools is not isolated to our children and our teens, I believe it is a poignant reflection of our society and culture at large.

It seems an overwhelming task in this light. How can we even begin to cultivate greater wellness, mental health and greater well-being, not only in our schools, but in our communities, our gathering places, and in our families? One step, one family, one community at a time. 


Imagine the fire that could spread if we were all more daily conscious of not only who we are being, but what we are each doing to support the community around us? Imagine building communities that encourage the wellness and well-being of every individual, that ignite the potential of all of its members.

As I was contemplating this a question continued to arise: How do we create a culture of wellness and well-being? What are the components needed in a community to encourage personal growth, resilience, compassion, empathy, gratitude, innovation and inspiration? 

My thoughts…

6 Essential Components to Building a Culture Wellness and Well-Being

A Wellness Investment in EVERYONE. We cannot expect our children to embrace wellness practices if our teachers are not.  We cannot expect teachers to embrace wellness practices if school leaders are not. We cannot expect our children to communicate openly and clearly if their parents are not. Each and every member of a community must be afforded the opportunity to learn about wellness practices, practice them, and to be encouraged in an understanding of themselves and their potential for personal growth and well-being.


What is the Measure of Our Wellness?

The greatest gift we can give to ourselves, and to those around us, is our own well-being.

Diane L MacDonald
Founder, Education Alive

I am excited about the upcoming months.  Education Alive is gaining momentum and I am looking forward to speaking at the NYC Elementary School Principals Association, the NYS Council of School Superintendents and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. I am passionate about helping schools build communities of wellness and mental health that ignite the potential of each and every member of the school community and excited about what lies ahead in this journey!

As we explore the tools and strategies to support the wellness and mental health of our students, we must also examine our own health and wellness.  Our personal well-being exerts an influence on the well-being of all the people in our care, and the culture of our homes, our schools and our communities.  Wellness begins with us! 

What is Wellness?

With that in mind, how do we measure our wellness? What defines us as well, as mentally healthy? 

I believe that it is essential for us to measure our overall wellness beyond the usual parameters of physical health, our fitness level and the absence of injury, disease or illness. Wellness is a multi-dimensional state that is embodied in the overall quality of lives and our sense of well-being. Wellness is an active process of growth, change and making choices that leads us toward the life we desire and define, for ourselves, as successful.