How Developing a Heart of Compassion will Enrich Your Life in the New Year
As 2013 comes to an end today, I have another thought or a goal I would want you to consider in 2014. This goal or thought is about compassion. As an example of its antithesis, I lived for a long time, being very business- like. There was a seriousness, selfishness and greed that I employed in thinking “you have to do what you have to do”. Now having resources meant I reminded myself about the price I paid for it and whoever wants a share of what I have must earn it.
In the process, it took the need to be compassionate out of my life. This was many years ago before I knew the life I understood now. With such silly world-view, I was lonely, selfish, confused. And though I had loads of friends around me, I lost many relationships. I also lost some of the best opportunities life can offer anyone. Compassion now makes sense to me because of how long I spent on the plane of selfishness and greed.
I believe compassion is that one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long term freedom, joy, peace and prosperity to our lives. The key to developing this virtue is to make it a daily practice.
Compassionate acts are generally those who take into account the suffering of others in an attempt to alleviate the suffering as if it were one’s own. And there are physical benefits too. It’s been shown that those who practice compassion release 100% more of the hormone that slows down the ageing process and 23% less of the stress hormone. And there are spiritual and emotional benefits too. More importantly is that it makes you happier.
How do we then practice compassion? I will share five practices with you:
1. Verbalize your resolve to show compassion.
Make up your mind to do so and start talking about it. Start by thanking God for the gift of a new day and His unmerited favour towards you. Tell yourself you will give someone an opportunity today in spite of their obvious disadvantage. Resolve to be kind and appreciate the opportunities God brings your way to be a solace for those needing it today. Resolve to withhold judgment and give everyone you meet the chance to better themselves as long as you have the capacity.
2. Practice empathy
Exercise your mind to see the world through the eyes of another person. Put yourself in their shoes and see if you can pass judgement the same way if you haven’t done so. Do this not just with those who are close to you but people you are less familiar with.
3. Recognize what you have In common with others instead of differences
Reflect one the things you have in common with others. We have common needs such as love, attention, recognition, affection, happiness etc. Reflect on these commonalities you have with others, it will increase your empathy and help you to be compassionate.
4. Imagine the suffering of a human being you have met recently
Imagine that you are the one going through that suffering. Reflect on how you will like that suffering to end. Imagine how you would feel if we someone saw your own pains, thought about it and desired it to end. Then practice doing something every day to help alleviate the suffering of others no matter how little. Even a smile, kind words, errand or chore will do.
5. See those who mistreat you as weak, small minded people who need help
Please outgrow vengeance. Embrace forgiveness and empathy. When you encounter someone who mistreat you, instead of acting in anger, withdraw. When you are calm and detached, understand their background, picture the ignorance driving the behavior of such a person. Imagine the helplessness of that person. Imagine what the person was thought as a child and what day or week that person that was having. What bad things or mood or state of mind that person was going through. The suffering they must be going through to mistreat you that way. Understand their actions weren’t about you but about what they were going through.
Practice kindness and compassion every day. It is an investment in the life ahead of you. This will change our lives in 2014 and if many of us embrace this, it will change our nation too.