Compassion comes naturally to most humans, yet we hold ourselves from being compassionate as we have some sort of fear of being exploited for our kindness.
We are compassionate towards our loved ones, close family members and friends, but humans can become totally nasty when it comes to how we interact with strangers.
If we wish to change the world we live in, the hardest change we need to cultivate in ourselves is showing compassion to each and every one around, and not just people who matter to us.
Imagine a world, where we gained one ‘karma’ point that extends our life by a year for being compassionate to at least one person per day.
Being socially connected and wishing well for others, not just our loved ones, has many health and psychological benefits. We have the power within us to live a happy and fulfilling life, by being compassionate to people around us. Yet, our mind is full of hatred, revenge and suspicion towards people, who are very much like us, whom we did not care to know at a deeper level.
If you see an elderly man, walking alone on the street, talking to himself, he probably deserves a hug and a patient ear and not labelled as a psychotic or try to run away from him as far away as you can. You would definitely have a different attitude towards him, if you found out he was somehow related to you.
Benefits of Compassion
People who are compassionate are likely to be emotionally stable. They like to get into the root cause of another person’s behavior instead of being judgmental.
By practicing compassion towards others, people are more likely to forgive people who hurt them.
Resentment and negative attitude towards others is the root cause of many of the mental and physical illness.
Compassionate people attract a lot of positive vibes from others. They do good not just to the recipient but to themselves as well.
Influence of Media
We read and watch many horrific things. The world is full of hatred and suspicion. News channels love negativity – from a President’s tweets or an act of terror that follows with a period of hatred for anyone who belongs to that religion. It’s a vicious cycle.
Compassionate people are mature enough to understand that few miscreants do not represent the views of the entire religion.
Another trend on media is men bashing, as if there are no good men left in the universe.
Media has the power to start a ‘Compassion movement’ that can spread peace and happiness all over the world in quick time. However, this is unlikely to happen as the media business fear they might go out of business if everyone in the world were kind to each other.
Why is it hard for people to be compassionate ?
We are all hard wired to look after ourselves. People grow up thinking they are the center of the universe. Whether we like it or not, most people are judgmental. They expect to be forgiven for their own errors, but quick to punish others for an honest mistakes.
Most people do not feel someone else’s pain, unless they go through the pain themselves.
There are people who don’t even know what to say when they are informed of a death of a friend’s loved ones. Compassionate conversation is never taught in school.
It is hard for people to be compassionate if they have grown up having life long grudges against people they have known in the past, if they can’t forgive anyone easily, wish ill for others for hurting them and have sadistic tendencies i.e. be secretly happy when they see someone in pain or facing adversity.
Also, a lot of people assume educated people are compassionate. Nothing is further from the truth. A degree in finance, technology or even mastering a particular language cannot make anyone compassionate.
One can have an excellent command over a chosen language or be a great orator, yet find it difficult to be compassionate. You got to speak the right words at the right time to the right person.
One can pretend to be empathetic but not compassionate. Someone can hear you out, but not offer to alleviate the pain or challenging circumstances, when it is possible to do so. Let’s be honest, we have all had bad times, when we knew someone who could bail us out in difficult situations, but that person choose to be a silent observer who walked out leaving you in the dumps.
To be compassionate, you got to avoid being that person instead of having a like for like attitude and forgive that person – and that is the hardest bit.
As mentioned earlier, the real test whether people are compassionate or not is how they treat that man on the street.
If you wonder why should one even care for a stranger, then to remind everyone, our major gripe about selfish society are the way people not known to us treat us.
Racism, sexism, terrorism, bullying are unkind acts directed towards strangers. These are attitudes people develop towards others at a very early age that cause harm to others and sometimes we could be at the receiving end, which can destroy our peace of mind, sometimes our career or even our life.
If we must eradicate these social evils, then compassion must be taught as a mandatory subject in schools for the overall good of the society.
Compassion is not hard to cultivate, might take few years, but it’s possible if one has genuine feelings of goodness towards others.
Writing from experience 🙂 !!!