How to Cultivate Compassion in Your Life
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Those wise words come from the Dalai Lama. Compassion is defined as an emotion that is a sense of shared suffering, most often combined with a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another; to show special kindness to those who suffer.
An article posted on Zen Habits suggests compassion is one of the few things in life that we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives. And it’s not the short-term gratification provided by sex, drugs and gambling, it’s something that will bring true and lasting happiness.
The key to developing compassion in your life is to make it a daily practice, the article notes. For instance, you can develop a morning ritual that involves meditation or yoga before you start your busy day. You can also practice empathy for your fellow humans, the first step in cultivating compassion. Too often, we are centered on ourselves. If we think of someone else who is suffering, and try to imagine their pain, we can develop empathy, which naturally leads to compassion.
Zen Habits also suggests that you develop practicing acts of kindness. A smile, or a kind word, or just talking about a problem with another person can help immensely. Practice doing something kind to help ease the suffering of others, the article recommends. When you are good at this, find a way to make it a daily practice.
In a Huffington Post article, the author suggests several ways to develop compassion, including having compassion for yourself, which is essential if you wish to be compassionate to others. Reach out with genuine concern by asking people how they are doing, and giving full attention to their answer, rather than making “how are you” the equivalent of “hello.” In the same vein, listen fully to other people’s concerns and worries. You don’t have to provide a solution, just listen as generously as you can.
You can also learn compassion through self-help programs, such as the Landmark Forum, a program devoted to personal and professional growth. In California, Vietnamese immigrant Vo Minh Triet organized a conference to introduce the Landmark Forum to the area’s Vietnamese community. “The Landmark Forum will help transform your lives 100% and give you more confidence, compassion and tolerance,” he said in a review published by Nguoi Viet Daily News.
In another Landmark Forum review, a participant identified as Matthew said that before he took the Landmark Forum, he was impatient, controlling, competitive and addicted to stress. “In the Landmark Forum I saw my blind spots, and saw that my judgments, opinions and ways of being didn’t work for me. I only lost power and deflected people away from me who I wanted to be around. Who I became after the Forum is more patient, relaxed, easy-going, compassionate and accepting.”
Developing compassion is not easy. Of course, we all have compassion to some degree, but practicing it on a daily basis is a challenge. It takes dedication and perseverance. Is it worth it? Only you can answer that question, but if you want to improve your life, as the Dalai Lama says, compassion may be the key to happiness.