As humans, we must all know the reasons why compassion is so important for a wholesome life on Earth. As we share love and care, let’s come together and make an effort to ease other’s pain.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — Dalai Lama.
There probably wouldn’t have been a better time, than now, to write and share my thoughts on compassion. In a time when the world is at war with a pandemic and millions of people are suffering (and dying) – there are million others, who are being heroes and compassionately stepping up to help others, sometimes at the cost of their own lives.
Yeah, you got me right, I’m talking about all those doctors, nurses, hospital staff and caregivers – whom we now know as ‘Covid Warriors’ – and they are setting an example of compassion for us.
Before I go deeper into discussing the reasons why compassion is so important – let us first understand what exactly compassion is.
- What is ‘compassion’?
- What’s the difference between ‘compassion’ and ’empathy’?
- The power of compassion
- Compassion is unifying. It is the bond that unites all of humanity.
- Compassion makes us accept the responsibility that we never thought we could handle.
- An act of compassion can change your life forever.
What is ‘compassion’?
Compassion can be defined as a feeling that arises when you are confronted with someone else’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering, with kindness, care, and support.
It is, in fact, a mindful practice where we go beyond indifference and judgment, to feel another’s pain, distress and hardships.
To put it in simpler words, compassion is important for our life, like the air we breathe. Being compassionate helps us to live as a part of larger society as well as gives us a sense of fulfillment.
What’s the difference between ‘compassion’ and ’empathy’?
Most of the time, we identify compassion as empathy and vice versa. Well, compassion definitely involves the feelings of empathy, love, altruism, etc., but essentially, there’s a stark difference between each of these emotions.
Empathy can be considered as the spark that ignites the sense of compassion. Sensing someone’s pain and suffering is a sign of empathy, but when we step beyond the feeling and act to reduce the pain, that’s compassion. Being empathetic isn’t enough, being compassionate is necessary.
As Daniel Goleman rightly quotes, “True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.”
Here are the most meaningful reasons why compassion is so important:
Well, Like I said in the beginning, in the present times, the world needs our compassion more than ever.
While compassion has certain benefits that can create greater impacts, there are other things that one can feel at a personal level as well.
1) Researchers have observed that our body generates happy hormones after helping someone else. Thus, being compassionate can reduce your anxiety and stress level, making you feel happier in general.
2) Compassion generates a sense of fulfillment – it helps you to be at peace with yourself, as you know that you’re doing the best you can, for others.
3) Compassion nurtures serenity around you. When you are compassionate towards others, you will notice a sense of calm and serenity within yourself and your surroundings. It’ll also nurture harmonious and meaningful relationships with your friends and family.
4) Compassion helps in improving your Emotional Quotient (EQ), as you focus on the needs of others, rather than your own and make an effort to help them, whole-heartedly.
“Compassion is the desire that moves the individual self to widen the scope of its self-concern to embrace the whole of the universal self.” — Arnold Toynbee.
The power of compassion
Compassion is unifying. It is the bond that unites all of humanity.
The sense of compassion enables us to understand someone else’s situation, making us take action to change their lives for the better.
It’s a quality that allows us to step out of our comfort zone, in order to see & feel the situation in which another person is suffering.
It requires enough willpower to stand by those who are dealing with problems and facing challenges in their daily lives.
In a world where there’s so much hatred caused due to cultural, racial, and religious differences, compassion is the only thing that can bring us all together and unite all of humanity.
For centuries, leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and others have tried to spread the message of peace & harmony through compassion.
Compassion makes us accept the responsibility that we never thought we could handle.
As humans, we are often so self-centric that we tend to forget our abilities to stand by others and help them in times of need.
We feel we aren’t capable enough to uplift someone from distress or to support someone in times of pain – but that isn’t true.
As you cultivate a sense of compassion, you’d feel an overwhelming desire to stand by others and make a difference in their lives, without seeking any acknowledgment for your actions. Y
ou’d slowly understand that compassion isn’t just an emotion, but a way of life. And when you notice that your actions are making an impact in someone’s life, there would be a sense of satisfaction that can’t be expressed through words.
It would reiterate your faith in your own self, and make you realize that you’re more than what you think you are!
An act of compassion can change your life forever.
Let me begin with an example, so that it’s easier for you to understand what I mean when I say ‘your life will change forever’. I lost my parents at the age of 27 years and suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
There was a void that I could feel, but couldn’t express. I would spend hours thinking why this happened to me, why didn’t I get some more time with my parents, etc – it felt like I was stuck, unable to move on.
A couple of years back, I decided to take a volunteer trip to Kenya and worked at a childcare center, where mostly orphaned and abandoned kids were sheltered. There were about 70 kids, ranging between the age of 10 days to 14 years – and they had never known what parents’ love felt like.
Spending time with them made me realize that I have been blessed with so much, that I shouldn’t even have complained about life ever. As I showered them with love, took care of them, shared happiness and laughter – I felt a sort of completeness within myself. That’s when I knew what compassion can do to us.
Coming back to the point, compassion essentially refers to the willingness to give selflessly. It’s a desire to make a difference in someone else’s life by donating your skills, money and time, without expecting anything back in return.
Being compassionate requires courage and mindfulness, without which one cannot fully devote himself/herself in serving others.
The rewards you’d receive from this act of compassion would not just be extremely satisfying, but it would also help you to look at life differently and make you a better human.
To say the least, compassion is the greatest gift that one human being can share with another.
On today’s date, when there’s so much unrest and divisiveness, let us all pledge to be more compassionate as individuals and make this world a better place to live.
If you have a story of compassion to share, let us know in the comments below. We’d be glad to hear about your experiences.