There is more to compassion than being nice; although that constitutes a very large part of it! We have to learn to be more compassionate towards other people, ourselves, and to the planet. Compassion is perhaps the single greatest key to happiness; it allows us to see the world through kind eyes, and to enjoy and give back to what is around us. Here are 9 ways to live a more compassionate lifestyle:
- Always Try To Understand Other People
Very often we might find ourselves in a situation where we do not agree with what is being said, or how a person behaves. Even if we do not agree we must try to develop understanding, and see where the other person is coming from, where their perspective might have arisen. We cannot judge their opinion without knowing their background and life experiences. When we understand why people are how they are, we do not hate or judge, because we can empathize somewhat, despite our differences. Understanding is a large part of compassion.
- Be There When People Need You
There is no need to be forceful and try to control someone else’s life. What is more important is that loved ones know that you are for there for them when they need help. If a good friend ever asks for help, be it advice, or a favor, then you should be ready to do what you can to help them. Simply being available for a person in their time of need is compassion enough, and often there is no need to do anything at all.
- Learn To Listen
Most of the time, when people come to you for help, they simply want someone to talk to. In day-to-day life we should learn to listen with genuine compassion. We learn to see past the words that are spoken, straight to the meaning behind them, and when it is required we know how we can help. Listen to people around you; listen with your heart. Listen also to yourself and your own needs and thoughts.
- Be Honest And Open
Whether listening or expressing your own thoughts and emotions, true compassion always speaks with an honest heart and an open mind. Be willing to take on board lessons from other people, to follow advice as well as give it, and to admit vulnerable emotional states. Be kind and honest with yourself as well as with other people. Learn to communicate feelings to people, and to admit your flaws. We are all human after all.
- Stick To Your Values
Is it more compassionate to assist someone in some immoral wrongdoings, or is it more compassionate to stick to your guiding compass and keep true to your values? I would say the latter. Our values come to define who we are, and if we are compassionate people, then naturally our values should follow suite. What is hardest is sticking to these values when they are tested, but the value is only an action if it is carried out. Be compassionate in your morals, define them by what your heart tells you is right, and then stick to them.
- Consume Responsibly
We live in an age which holds a lot of emphasis on material gain. Many of us consume with little awareness of how our consumption is effecting the planet, it’s natural resources, and the people who inhabit it. There is no way to stop consuming altogether, but we can aim to be more aware, and more responsible about our purchases. This requires dedication and research, and we must often resist the temptation of companies and foods which we know are bad for our body and health. The planet requires our care, and therefore true compassion must involve taking care of the planet we live on.
- Be Kind To Animals
Animals are also a part of the planet, and are part of the delicate eco-system which supports life. Compassion should extend to animals. The picture is not just as simple as being kind to our pet dog, although this is obviously a good start. Many industries practice cruelty to animals, or have little concern for their impact on the environment of rare and endangered species. The tuna industry for example has been known to regularly snag dolphins in their nets, the palm oil industry causes the destruction of rainforest habitat, and the meat industries often farm animals in horrific conditions for maximum profit. Being kind to animals is intimately related to responsible consumerism, but if you are thinking of getting a pet, why not adopt one from a charity shelter.
- Donate Or Get Involved
Everyone has their own way that they are able to help, and to show compassion. If you earn a lot of money, but lack spare time, perhaps you could consider donating to a worthy cause, or a local project. If you are able to, consider taking direct action and getting involved in something charitable, or setting up a project of your own. Start local! Small changes can snowball, compassion can spread, and the small changes soon become dramatic ones.
- Give More Than You Take
This is a very simple philosophy which can easily be put into action each and every day. The premise is simple; give more than you take. Give more back to people, offer more favors, be compassionate at every opportunity. Take only when it is compassionate to do so, for example when sharing food, or when someone makes you a friendly offer. Give as often as possible.