Shauna Shapiro, expert in mindfulness and compassion, recently authored Good Morning, I love You: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Practice to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity, and Joy. In this book she draws on both scientific evidence and ancient wisdom to offer practices and thoughts to support readers’ well-being. Mindfulness is a way of living that allows us to pause and observe situations calmly. It has been associated with a host of psychological, physical, and cognitive benefits. Shapiro reports that only one-third of Americans are truly happy. As such, this book is relevant to a wide audience seeking to increase its happiness and well-being. Shapiro ends each chapter with mindfulness practices readers can try and with pearls of wisdom that inspire. Daniel Siegel, author of Aware, contributed the forward to this book.
One of the most inspiring insights from neuroscience, according to Shapiro, is that our brains change throughout life. By engaging in mindful practice, we can increase our psychological resources and change our brains. She emphasizes that change occurs in small increments, and continual practice matters most. Even just twelve minutes of daily mindfulness practice has been linked to improved outcomes. Specifically, mindfulness has been shown to increase or improve empathy, compassion, social relations, ethical decision-making, happiness, attention, memory, creativity, immune function, sleep, and cardiovascular functioning. It also reduces depression, anxiety, stress, pain, and mind wandering.
Shapiro contends that intention, attention, and attitude are the three pillars of mindfulness. Intention involves building a connection to and being guided by one’s aspirations and motivation. What we attend to is what becomes the basis of our mental life. People experience tremendous temptation to multitask. Doing so, however, decreases productivity and happiness. Shapiro emphasizes that we should have a kind and curious attitude about that to which we attend. For example, when we consider our own painful emotions with kindness and curiosit;, when we understand that pain, but not suffering, is inevitable; and when we label our emotions and appreciate that they serve a purpose, we can then develop self-compassion, learn from our failures, and engage in better behaviors for our physical health and the health of our relationships. Too many people today feel lost and lonely. Meditation can help us appreciate that we all belong to one another and that everything and everyone is connected.
Shapiro suggests a host of practices for meditating and living mindfully. These include: bringing attention to one’s breath, writing compassionate letters to oneself, forgiving oneself and others, smiling more, writing letters of gratitude, doing daily random acts of kindness, looking for the good in others, celebrating others’ happiness, and experiencing awe and wonder. Because mindfulness is a way of living and not just a set of practices or a type of meditation, Shapiro describes how to introduce mindfulness into sex, eating, decision-making, the workplace, and parenting. Doing so can help us savor experiences, connect to our bodily intuitions, and move through life with less urgency and fear.
Shapiro concludes with the story of an especially important mindfulness practice for her. Amid a painful divorce, she began starting each day by saying “Good Morning, Shauna” and eventually “Good Morning, Shauna. I love you.” Shapiro spoke about this practice in a TEDx talk. She has seen in her own experience healing from her divorce and, with many other individuals whom she has supported, how this simple practice can transform lives. Good Morning, I Love You can help anyone begin a personal mindfulness journey to improved well-being.
Shapiro, S. (2020). Good Morning, I Love You: Mindfulness and Self-compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity, and Joy.