Wouldn’t most people like to think of themselves as being compassionate? Most of us would. But, with all the distractions of life, it is easy to lose sight of other people and their needs once in a while… even when someone is standing right in front of us.
Being compassionate is not always natural or easy. It can take some thought, dedication, and effort. But showing compassion not only makes the people who receive our compassion feel good, it can make us happier with ourselves and our lives as well. It doesn’t matter who you may be… what situation you are in… or how old you are… it is possible to become more compassionate.
Here are a few helpful tips for living more compassionately.
Think about what you say. Words can come out without much thought, but they are powerful and carry a lot of weight. Words can empower and boost people up. They can tear people down. Words can be understanding and tolerant. They can be critical and judgmental. Most importantly, words can have a lasting effect.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is easier to feel compassion for someone if you can relate to their perspective. And it can be challenging to step out of your own shoes and put yourself in someone else’s position if their situation is foreign to you. However, there are lots of things about being a human being that we all share and can to relate to in one another. Try asking yourself what it would be like to be the other person. How would you feel? What would you do? What would you need? What would help you? Then try to respond to the person with a sense of empathy.
Really listen to people. It 's so easy to fall into the habit of thinking about what to say next while someone else is talking. But usually the person you are talking with needs you to hear what he or she is saying much more than they need to hear your opinion, input, reply, or rebuttal. When talking with people, it is best to relax your mind and simply give them your undivided attention.
Be kind to yourself. As hard as people can be on others, most of us are even harder on ourselves. Nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and has regrets. And we all have to work at life, because… let’s fact it… living life isn’t as simple as it sounds. Give yourself a break if you don’t live up to your own expectations or those other people put upon you. It’s okay... even when it comes to being a compassionate, person. As long as you have well-meaning intentions, you're on the right path.
Be kind to people. It sounds simple enough, but showing kindness to all the different people who pass through your life on any given day can be a significant challenge. One of the great things about being kind to people is that even the smallest act of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life. You may never know what the full effect of the act will be, but it could be monumental. You could change the trajectory of someone’s entire day. Probably the best thing about being kind is that kindness is contagious. If you are kind to someone else, the odds are pretty high that they will be passing that kindness along to other folks.
Really care. You don’t have to agree with someone. You don’t have to like what the person is saying. But it is important to care about the person, their feelings, and their needs. Remember how great it feels to have someone truly care about you. Open up your heart… and really care.
- Dalai Lama
Think about what you do. What you say during a conversation with someone matters, but so does what you do. Nonverbal messages say a lot. You can show your compassion and understanding in your facial expressions and how you hold your body. Maintaining eye contact with people, keeping your body turned toward them, and leaning in as they speak shows you are listening and care about what they are saying. A smile or a pat on the hand can be reassuring and shows compassion as well. Sometimes, a hug might be called for too, but it is always a good idea to make sure the hug is welcome.