Killing it With Compassion

The word compassion has different meaning for different people. Some associate it with the Buddha or personal growth, others relate it to something they feel for the less fortunate, and some don't really think about it at all. Compassion is under utilized by most of society, yet the impact of compassion when practiced is profound.

Compassion can change the world, even if it's one person at a time.

The Challenge
Being a compassionate human being is quite hard. In order to be compassionate you must first realize and accept that I am you and you are me. Compassion forces us to be in the world on the most human level possible, and to see others as we see ourselves. For example, in order to be compassionate toward a dying person you would need to acknowledge that it could be you dying. Most of us don't want to face some of the most challenging life experiences that naturally invoke a sense of compassion. As a result we harden ourselves to protect against the vulnerability we don't want to acknowledge in ourselves, not realizing that we are also shutting out the world.

The Practice
The ability to practice compassion with others starts with being self compassionate. What you cannot embrace and love in yourself will block you from embracing and loving aspects of another. Many people are harder on themselves than they are others, making self-compassion more difficult than being compassionate toward someone else. True compassion starts within so practicing it on yourself will set you off in the right direction.

The Importance
Compassion for the self and others is the only way to live peacefully in this world. When we lack compassion we judge and criticize. We can't be open and accepting of our differences. Compassion opens your world-view and makes you more tolerant of others and the different ways we all see the world. Compassion takes the edge off, shifting you from a fighting attitude to a loving attitude.

The Application
Compassion is a capacity that needs to be built like you would build a muscle with exercise. It's not unlike a practice like gratitude or yoga in that it will take conscious effort and intention on a daily basis. Start small with people you love, and build toward finding compassion for the people in your life you aren't so fond of. Surround yourself with reminders like quotes on compassion, reading about compassion and spending time with others who will rub off on you.

Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash