What is compassion, and why does it matter?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, compassion is the “sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” Empathy is joining in with those who suffer; however, it usually ends there. Compassion takes the next step, which is to ask the question, “How can I help?”
Compassion is about stepping into our collective humanity and working towards an intentional goal of healing and hope for everyone.
Compassion and community go hand in hand. When we see our shared connection with all community members, compassion leads us to seek healing and hope together. How are you extending both empathy and compassion to those around you today? What role do you play in the collective healing of those on the margins of our society? These are big questions, but ones we need to think about if we want to see some of the significant issues in our community change.
What are the benefits of compassion?
Compassion not only benefits the recipient but also the giver. Here are some ways that compassion can enhance your overall well-being:
- Compassion can reduce stress: When you are kind and compassionate towards others, you activate the part of your brain associated with pleasure and reward. This can help lower stress levels and promote a sense of calmness.
- Compassion can improve self-esteem: Providing compassion to others can give you a sense of purpose and meaning and boost your self-esteem, making you feel more confident.
- Compassion can build better relationships. Compassionate people tend to have stronger social connections, which can also contribute to a longer life. Volunteering and helping others can expand our social networks and provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Even small acts of kindness can have a significant impact on our well-being. Whether volunteering at a local charity or simply holding the door open for someone, every act of compassion can make a difference. Compassion is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. We can become more compassionate by practicing empathy and actively seeking ways to help others.
How can you live more compassionately?
- The first step in living a more compassionate life is showing compassion. Consider your struggles and things you’re learning in your life, and show grace towards yourself first.
- Put yourself in another person’s shoes. Practice looking at the situation of the person you are dealing with by putting yourself in that person’s shoes and considering how you might feel to be where they are.
- Allow yourself to give back to others. You can do this in many ways through volunteering, donating to a cause, or organizing a fundraiser for something you want to see change in the community. Even a small act of kindness can make a big difference in both your life and the lives of others.
- Apologize when you make a mistake. Letting go of our pride and acknowledging our shortcomings and ability to grow from our mistakes is an act of compassion to ourselves and others. Building stronger relationships will help build a better community for you and those around you.
- Find ways to give back. Think about something you’re passionate about and gifted at and how you can combine those to give back to your community. Every act of kindness and compassion will build more compassion in our lives.
The more we step into these small acts of compassion, the more compassionate we will become. As we give compassion to ourselves and others, we create a more compassionate and welcoming community, and it is in these spaces we can begin to see healing and change happen. Ultimately this is what we hope for – that the world would know and see how loved they are and that they are worthy of healing, hope and peace in their lives.
To learn more about how we are creating a community of compassion and hope at The Upper Room Mission, click the button below.