Compassion is a Gateway to Happiness

Sylvia Boorstein has a wonderful book titled, “Happiness is an Inside Job.”

In it she offers all kinds of wonderful teachings on happiness.  These are some compassion chants or prayers, (call them what you like,) which we send not so much to beseech any specific outer power (if you grew up in a tradition which seemed to offer up a demanding and hard to access God, this might relieve you of that layer of resistance) but really we send them to our own inner-most hearts. Feel free to apply them however you like, in whatever ways feel most comfortable to you. 

The first set comes from Sharon Salzberg via Sylvia:

May I be free of enmity and danger.

May I have mental happiness.

May I have physical happiness.

May I have ease of well-being.


The second set, Sylvia made up on her own (which you too may wish to do at some point) to attend to her own specific needs:

May if feel contented and safe.

May I feel protected and pleased.

May my physical body support me with strength.

May my life unfold smoothly with ease.


Try spending about 15 minutes each day with these. For now, just sit and read them aloud in whatever volume you wish. This is a practice in effortfulness. Just do your best to stay with them even when you attention wanders or feels tired. Sylvia suggests that we say the words expecting to feel a bit different in our mind and heart. Feel them echo through the body and mind.

Try first the I version of these. Later you may also move on to “you” bringing to mind those dear to you. Later you may expand this in ever widening circles to those you know less well, to those you feel sort of neutral about (perhaps a grocery clerk,  the mail carrier, anyone) Then you may move on to include someone you feel has harmed you. (I’d avoid starting with anyone very traumatic. We can start small and build up from there!) And finally, include all beings in your wishes of compassion.

Finally, don’t evaluate your experience. There’s no tight or wrong here! Impossible to “do” compassion wrong! And to quote, Sylvia directly, “And remember, it’s not the phrases that make a difference. It’s your resolve, your own intention to have your mind rest in its own goodness that makes the difference. You are reminding your mind, diligently, to care – which is what it does naturally.”

Please feel free to share these practices with friends and family. Let’s spread this compassion stuff everywhere! We have a free  meditation class each 2nd Saturday of the month to help support your practice.

Make today amazing dear ones,



Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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