I’m a fan of compassion as a driving force for positive change. It can change pain into relief, suffering to euphoria and strife to peace. The power of compassion is transformative. It can feed the hungry, heal the sick, and free the oppressed. We see it all the time, yet it never can seem to happen enough to cure all the suffering in the world.
Can we fuel the flame of compassion? Can we generate more compassion within ourselves in the greater world?
The Dalai Lama and now scientists agree that the answer to both of those questions is, “yes.” Research shows that through conscious effort we can become more compassionate individuals, and through our example of compassionate action, we can even increase the compassionate response of others who observe it.
Are you interested increasing your compassion response? If so, then here are some practical tips on how you can do so:
- See Yourself in Others
The more we see others as being like us, the more likely we are to be drawn to help them. That feeling of similarity generates a strong feeling of empathy – the feeling that we are suffering with the other person. Empathy is the spark that ignites compassion.
- Don’t Worry, Be Helpful
The fear that others’ suffering will become our own can be a roadblock to compassion. Clear your path by reducing your sense of worry. The less you worry, the more likely you are to help others.
- Believe in Yourself
The more confident you are that you can reduce another person’s suffering, the more likely you are to do it. So, believe in yourself – not just for your own sake, but for the sake of others.
- Don’t Play the Blame Game
Blame limits our compassion. So, be careful not to blame others for their misfortune. Keep in mind that we all suffer and that you suffer too. If you think of someone as your equal, then you are more likely to reach out to them with a compassionate and generous spirit.
- Easy Does It
Be careful not to take on too much of other people’s suffering as your own. Doing so can lead to a form of burn out known as Compassion Fatigue. Instead, practice the art of Self Compassion by limiting the degree to which you take on the suffering of others as your own.
Though easy in theory, these tips can be challenging to put into practice and stick with, especially on our most challenging days. But it’s worth the effort, because increasing our compassion can help transform our lives in a variety of positive ways. It can deepen our relationships, increase our sense of wellbeing, and help us feel a greater connection with everyone we meet. And with dedicated practice, as we grow our own compassion, we can help spread compassion in those around us, and little by little transform the world.