Compassion for Dummies?

More often than not, our habits as well as our prejudices, leave little room for genuine expressions of compassion, and we become numb to the problems of others.

Humanity — as a species, did we ever have it?

Compassion is defined as the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress coupled with a desire to alleviate it.

Google tells me there are many ways to show compassion for others. But why would anyone really want to?

Because acting with compassion gives you feelings of accomplishment and usefulness. Having a positive purpose in life has more impact on your happiness than being ignorant to others’ needs or well being.

Aren’t humans inherently designed to seek fulfillment, i.e. the pursuit of happiness?

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”-Dalai Lama

Here are my top five tried and true methods for sharing your compassion with others:

1. You first.

If you want to learn how to be compassionate toward others, the first trick is to learn to be compassionate with yourself. A person who doesn’t love themselves, can’t fully love others. Praise yourself for your successes (even little tasks such as unloading the dishwasher or making your bed in the morning deserve pats on the back). Of equal importance, you need to forgive yourself for mistakes made, so that you can better focus on your strengths.

2. Communication.

How we carry our physical self, exemplifies our intentions. To best communicate your full attention during conversations, you make eye contact, keep your shoulders turned towards the speaker, and listen quietly – put your phone on silence, or better yet turn it off, for bonus points. The final cherry on top is to work on your active listening skills by paraphrasing and asking open-ended questions to show interest in what the other person is sharing with you.

3. Encourage Others.

It’s called Positive Reinforcement! When we praise and encourage others we often create a positivity vortex in that person. Pointing out the good in someone is a simple act of kindness – especially to a person who feels like they are stuck or in a rut.

4. Respect Privacy.

For pity’s sake, be vigilant with other’s personal experiences. Protect their dignity and do not gossip. Their private ordeal is not your story to share without consent. A compassionate person is capable of being trustworthy.

5. Volunteer.

Volunteering within the local community, or nonprofit organizations, not only provides the opportunity to make new friends and get out of the house but more importantly, helping others is good for you – mind and body!

Although we know there are many more ways to show compassion for others, the crucial point is that whatever you choose to do, it must come from your heart to take full effect. Letting go of your differences with the other person(s) and finding relatable similarities to what they are dealing with is an excellent step forward. After all, we are in this together. Let’s make it work for everyone.


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