What is Compassion?
Compassion is the feeling of empathy or sympathy towards a person in need. It is a sense of shared suffering and is generally regarded as the cornerstone of humanity.
Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. - Frederick Buechner
The Benefits of Compassion
By showing compassion a person not only helps the other person but in essence helps themselves as well. The reason behind this is that everything we do in life is linked through a cause and effect system. By doing good to others we receive positivity and contentment. We receive peace, unlike anything we could have achieved if we only did things for ourselves. Because self-actualization is a necessity in our lives we can't live without.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – Dalai Lama
Before We Continue
Before I begin to explain the actual process to developing compassion, it is important that you first realize a few of things.
- Understand that you can’t just show compassion out of the blue and that it is a process
- Realize that compassion is very hard to develop as by doing so you are changing the very way you think
- Understand that compassion can only be developed over a period of time.
Compassion is the desire that moves the individual self to widen the scope of its self-concern to embrace the whole of the universal self. - Arnold Toynbee
How to be Compassionate
1. Create Similarities
Statistically speaking at this very moment that you are reading this article, somebody just died.
……………………………………………do you feel any different?
……………………………………………do you feel changed?
……………………………………………do you feel any remorse?
Most people have this problem and if you answered “no” to these questions, don’t worry you’re not alone. Being compassionate towards somebody you don’t know is very hard. That’s why when I tell you somebody just died it is very hard to be sympathetic towards “somebody”.
This is why it’s so important to create similarities between yourself and the people you meet. Try to create a bond based on similarities (no matter how small they might be) and you will automatically begin to relate and connect with the person you're talking to. For example, if you're a student and the person you're talking to is a student, mentally make that connection between yourselves. Reflect and understand that both of you are going through similar struggles and that your day to day lives are very similar. You can then go deeper and deeper, thinking of more parallels and you will unknowingly build compassion between the both of you.
2. The Golden Rule
"Treat others as you would want to be treated"
This is probably the most cliché statement of all time but honestly speaking compassion is built on this statement. If you treat others like how you want to be treated you will be showing exemplarily compassion. Act on this one rule and everything else will come automatically.
3. Flip Your Perspective
You love yourself the most and only by putting yourself in the other person shoes can you feel compassion for them. So whenever you meet somebody or see some person struggling put yourself in the suffering person’s position:
- How would you feel if that happened to you?
- How would your family feel if that happened to you?
- How would you react?
- What would you need at a time like this?
This change in perspective will not just help you understand what the person needs but it will also help you feel true compassion for the person from the bottom of your heart.
4. Be Fully Involved and Aware
Compassion is something which comes from within the heart and soul. Why do you think true compassion can never be faked? Try to be fully involved with the other person and focus on the smallest of things that are unique to the person. This way rather than feeling a general feeling of compassion for everybody in the person's situation, you will be able to directly relate to him or her and do your best to help them.
By compassion we make others' misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also - Thomas Browne, Sr.
Compassion is formed through a comparison in your head between the person who is suffering and yourself. If you feel that you are both suffering the same amount you will not feel compassionate towards the other person.
But then in reverse, if you were to realize how blessed you are and were to count all of your blessings; you would feel that you are better off than the person in distress and would automatically feel compassion towards them.
Compassionate action involves working with ourselves as much as working with others. - Pema Chodron