April 21, 2013

Author Q & A: Woof repair

Want to fix feelings of unhappiness and enjoy life more? A new book on kindness suggests you take a page from your ever-loving pooch.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

It's a simple concept, says Michael J. Chase.

click image to enlarge

Author Michael J. Chase found inspiration in his dog, Mollie, for his latest book on kindness.

Courtesy photos

click image to enlarge

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. 

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


 

Blogs

More PPH Blogs