Did you know that people who respond with compassion to their own mistakes and limitations have been shown to experience greater physical and emotional health? If not, good news! Compassion is a trainable attribute and you can begin cultivating compassion for yourself and others today.
Compassion is one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives.
The key to developing compassion in your life is to make it a daily practice.
Here are a few tips:
- Morning ritual. Greet each morning with a ritual. The Dalai Lama suggests being thankful: “Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it."
- Cultivate self-compassion. Limit self-criticism. Be kind to yourself when you experience frustration or encounter personal shortcomings. Through acceptance, we naturally develop compassion and empathy towards others.
- Learn to empathize. Attempt to see things clearly through another person’s perspective. Try to understand what that person is feeling in a given moment, and use that understanding to help guide your actions. By practicing empathy, you learn to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and in doing so, build deeper rapport and trust.
- Be mindful. Without judgment, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings as they occur. By observing with openness and clarity, we are able to quiet our bodies and minds, balance negative emotions, and approach others from a calmer and more receptive place.
- Set an example. Compassion is contagious. When you treat others with kindness, flexibility, and support, they are more likely to reciprocate and extend that same generosity toward others.
- Commonalities practice. Instead of recognizing the differences between yourself and others, try to recognize what you have in common.
- Establish compassion as a value. Take small steps to make a big difference. Show people you care—ask how they are doing, lend a hand to someone who may be feeling overwhelmed, encourage daily acts of kindness.
These compassionate practices can be done anywhere at any time. By starting and ending your day with a ritual, you can develop compassion within yourself. And with ongoing practice, you can begin to do it throughout the day, and throughout your lifetime.