Compassion is not very fashionable nowadays. Our hare-brained society rewards and favours (and even deifies on some occasions) the rude, the aggressive and the self centred.
Hare-brained people hide behind terms like “assertiveness” or “honesty” or “just telling it how it is”, when they are simply being rude, judgemental and self centred. They mock people who try be nice, who think the best of people, calling them “drips” or “saps”, they think acts of compassion are acts of “weakness”.
They are wrong.
Compassion, simply, is recognising that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available to them. No matter how seemingly stupid, rude or just plain wrong those actions appear.
Compassion isn’t about going round hugging everyone, agreeing with everyone or being an utter pushover. It isn’t about naively trusting people or not thinking things through and assessing situations critically.
Nor is about accepting or condoning bad, or illegal behaviour, of course you can (and should) condemn atrocious acts.
You can also be utterly antisocial and still be compassionate.
It is about recognising we are all interconnected and our actions have ramifications we may never be aware of. It is about seeing ourselves in other people, about understanding that we are more similar than we are different. We have all made stupid choices and rash decisions and snap judgments.
Above all it is about forgiveness.
Compassion is a key tenant of the tortoise mind. Compassion comes from and helps you be slower and more mindful, better mannered, more patient and understanding. Offer to help, say “please” and “thank you”, don’t be quick to judge or snap at someone doing something you think is wrong, take a genuine interest in someones life. These are all acts of compassion.
Anger at other people is the anger with your self projected outwards. If you were at peace with yourself, accept yourself fully and completely, warts and all you would act more compassionately naturally.
Think about how different you have acted when you have been in a good mood rather than a bad mood. What was the difference in your tolerance and understanding?
This is why practicing compassion always starts with being compassionate to yourself. If you cannot be compassionate to yourself, how can you be compassionate to people around you? See yourself as someone who truly loves and accepts you. Can’t think of anyone? Imagine someone!
Like all things, compassion is it’s own reward, by being more compassionate and tolerant you will be less stressed, angry and worked up, you will feel calmer and who know how you will affect the world around you?
Do a random act of compassion today, even it is as little as saying an earnest “thank you” to someone or giving your loose change to charity…