Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Ray Routhier email@example.com
It's a simple concept, says Michael J. Chase.
Author Michael J. Chase found inspiration in his dog, Mollie, for his latest book on kindness.
Michael J. Chase
Be kinder. To yourself, and to others.
Chase gave up a 16-year career as a portrait photographer to start a new career talking and writing about kindness. In 2007, he started the Kindness Center (mostly run out of his home) with his wife, and now makes a living writing and speaking at events and schools around the country.
In 2011, he published his first book, "Am I Being Kind: How Asking One Simple Question Can Change Your Life and Your World." His second book, "The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone: A Four-Legged Approach to Enlightenment" (Hay House), is due out in May.
Chase, 43, grew up it the Bangor area and now lives in Biddeford.
Q: What are the main points you try to get across when writing about kindness?
A: I try to encourage people to slow down and be more aware of opportunities. Most of us spend our days looking down at our phones or other devices, and we're missing all these opportunities to open a door or smile at a stranger or give a couple dollars to a homeless person on the street.
The core of this is that I believe the reason people are unkind is that they are unhappy. My goal is to try to help people understand this on a deeper level, how anything creating emotional suffering in their lives can affect this. The more people work on themselves, the more their heart will open up to people around them.
Q: Where did the idea for "The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone" come from?
A: This book has been a life-changing experience, and it was the last thing I thought I'd be writing about. It started with my dog (a standard poodle named Mollie), who is my best friend in life. I wanted to write a book about unconditional love. It's a tough world to love everyone around you in.
One evening, I just started to look at all the qualities (Mollie) has: Living in the moment, simplicity, being nonjudgmental. She has all these traits; she just loves everyone, it doesn't matter who they are. A friend of mine is a Buddhist, and he showed me that the path to enlightenment is very similar to the way canines live.
But I wouldn't say it's a dog book. She (Mollie) is the inspiration behind it. This was written to help people get along with people in their lives, to learn to be kinder, to be more compassionate.
I don't practice or teach one particular belief system. There are a lot of different teachings that can lead to a place of kindness. That's what I love about this message of kindness. Nobody argues with it. Nobody says, "Kindness, who needs that?" What I want to do is help people realize it's not a weakness, as it sometimes is made out to be in the corporate world, but a strength. If you're kinder to your employees, they will be much more willing to be part of the team and stick around longer.
Q: What led you from photography to speaking about and writing about kindness?
A: Well, I absolutely loved photography. But throughout my time as a photographer, I was on a path searching, reading about inspirational topics, looking for the authentic happiness we're all looking for. And along the way, I made this discovery that kindness was an amazing vehicle for personal and spiritual growth. That if you're being kind, it can change the lives of everyone around you. As simple as it seems, it's such a profound thing.
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