Blessing #15: I am Compassionate
When we choose to be more compassionate to the suffering of others, we do much more than acknowledge their pain; we act in such a way as to help alleviate their suffering.
Compassion goes beyond feelings of pity. Compassion elicits an active response. It may be as simple as giving a donation to charity, or as hands-on as a heroic act of rescue. Between those two extremes are a million ways to express compassionate action.
Empathy is similar to Compassion, but they are not the same things. Empathy is the emotional response that allows us to experience the emotions and feel the pain of another being. People with great amounts of empathy must be careful not to “absorb” the pain being experienced by those around them, including animals and even the environment, as it can be overwhelming and prevent us from taking any action. When we are confronted with graphic images of great suffering, it shakes us to the core. As an empathetic person, I have often heard the words “you care too much” or similar phrases. I have come to realize that caring too much is not a bad thing, but a beautiful thing.
People who are compassionate are more than just “touchy-feely” or “too soft” though. In fact, there is scientific research that indicates there are pretty significant health benefits associated with the social connections formed through acts of compassion: strengthened neural pathways for increased and sustained happiness; reduced risk of heart disease; and lowered levels of stress hormones just to name a few.
To express Compassion for another human being is to understand love at the deepest levels of your self, and recognize that we are all connected.
By choosing to be a more compassionate person, I am creating a more tolerant, peaceful, and loving environment for myself and those around me. I care about you. I want to understand what is causing you pain, as though it were my own pain, and help you to relieve your suffering. I am allowing myself to be a difference-maker, not just an observer. I am becoming the change that I want to see in the world by living a more compassionate life.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
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