Compassion is arguably one of the most important tools that any human being should possess and utilize. It can be hard though. There are some people that you just don’t feel compassionate for. They’ve annoyed you, they’ve done something to upset you, whatever it is — sometimes there’s a reason, and it feels justified to feel no compassion towards those people.
Wouldn’t it be of great benefit to you to be able to feel more compassion towards these people, and everyone else, in general?
Well luckily for you, and everyone you come across, there is. Thanks to a study conducted by a variety of psychologists, we now have a real, tangible theory to strengthening our compassion. This study included compassion not only for people that the test subjects liked, but also the people they weren’t so fond of.
The theory behind it basically tells us that compassion is like a physical muscle. The more you use it, the more aware of your compassionate nature you are. Much like exercising a physical muscle, exposing it to more and more challenges will strengthen it.
So the simple solution to strengthening our compassion is basically using it. This requires a heartfelt mindfulness about you though, as the opportunity to not only show compassion but be aware of your compassion can easily be missed. That’s why the previously mentioned study utilized a form of meditation, named “compassionate meditation.”
To expand upon the simple solution, here are some actionable steps that you can take right now to begin cultivating ‘more’ compassion:
Practice Guided Meditation
The study cited above referred to a specific guided meditation they used. Luckily for everyone, they shared the files for this guided meditation. All you’ve got to do is give your name and email here, and you’ll get an email with the files.
Try Standard Meditation
Guided meditation isn’t for everyone. A voice in your ear doesn’t always bring people to that place of peace, so if the guided meditation wasn’t for you, give standard meditation a shot. If you don’t know how, give this a read.
Allow that meditation to seep into your day. Catch yourself every time you think of another, or judge another, and relate to their situation. Be mindful at every opportunity. Stay present.
Spend Time Relating to Others
Dedicate a time every day, similar to dedicating time to meditation each day, to simply ponder upon the situation of others. Understand why you feel compassionate towards one situation, and apathetic towards another. When you realise that everyone is going through their own unique situation, as complex as your own, every day — compassion often becomes second nature.
Go beyond just feeling compassion, but begin living in compassion. Do something nice for the sake of it. Observe how others react to your compassionate nature. Cultivate the compassion. It’s infectious, pass that compassionate nature on to all that you can. (Pay it forward!)
And that should be plenty to begin your compassion work-out. Now all you’ve got to do is stick at it. Much like going to the gym every day, week, or whatever, you need to incorporate your compassion exercises into your day too!
You’ll find that as you practice it more, the more it becomes a reflex. You’ll begin to relate to people’s situations out of habit. Not only will you become more compassionate, but a beautiful by-product of your mindfulness practices is that your appreciation will grow. Life will inevitably take on more beauty, as you notice and relate to more of it.
So pay it forward, smile at people, tell them you love them, and remember that everyone out there is living their life — just like you.
If you have anything to add, please drop it in the comment section below.
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