Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for Compassion

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

I’ve been working on being more compassionate. I’m someone quick to condemn or assume the worst. It only makes me look like an uncaring person and when I hear the whole story, I often understand the other person better. It doesn’t mean I automatically agree with their behaviour but it keeps me more judging them.

We seem to be losing compassion North America where we lead lives of comfort and luxury. Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner found that wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. We no longer need others so care less about their feelings. The less we have to rely on others, the less we feel connected to them and care about their feelings. Greed seems to overwhelm us so instead of offering compassion we condemn. When you have never experienced hardship how can you know what it feels like?

It makes sense when you look at the policies behind people in power who are usually from
privileged backgrounds. They have no experience with being poor, struggling with a disability, not having enough to eat, being overwhelmed with bills to pay, not being given opportunities or making mistakes from lack of education or acting out from being too damaged by life. They don't make policies with compassion, it's to protect their stuff and keep them in power.

Coming from a place of compassion makes me slow down and look at the other person. I feel calmer and not so prone to jumping to conclusions. There seems to be a lot less unnecessary drama in my life as I stop reacting to their reactions. In the past, I’ve thought being nice or kind made me into a sucker since people assumed you’re weak. But compassion doesn’t mean you have to naive or stupid. You can still see people realistically and recognize bullshit when you hear it. What compassion does is remove judgement to see what motivates the person so can wish them clarity and healing. Compassion brings power and opens your heart. It also makes me happy.

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