Would you call yourself a compassionate person?
In our materialistic society, compassion is often hugely undervalued, yet it remains extremely important.
After all, if we can’t be compassionate to other people, we can’t reasonably expect anyone else to be compassionate toward us, either.
As they say, and as you’ve probably learned the hard way, what goes around often comes around.
None of us knows what’s waiting for us around the corner, but a good way to guarantee that we’ll enjoy the compassion of others when things get tough is by practicing understanding and compassion toward others every single day.
And that’s not all.
As well as benefitting from the compassion of others, living your life compassionately can make your relationships more intimate and loving.
After all, there’s nothing more attractive than a warm heart.
We’re not just talking about romance here. If you’re looking for new friendships or hoping to network professionally, the ability to show compassion to your fellow human beings can turn you into a people magnet.
So, whether it’s in your personal life or in the workplace, it’s always important to be able to feel compassion to those around you, and know how to show it.
You can show your compassion through both your words and your actions.
It might be picking up the slack around the house or the office for someone when they’re ill, or agreeing to extend a deadline and shuffling things around when someone has had personal problems that mean they just can’t meet that deadline.
Or it might just be recognizing when someone needs your time, undivided attention, and a shoulder to cry on.
8 Ways To Be More Compassionate To Others
Now, let’s have a look at a few ways you can shift your mindset so that, sooner or later, showing compassion toward others becomes your new default setting.
Just remember that this isn’t something that will happen overnight. As with anything in life, it’s a case of practice makes perfect.
1. Start with yourself.
As the old saying goes, charity begins at home.
It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to truly practice compassion toward other people if you never give yourself a break or cut yourself any slack.
Do you have a niggling inner voice that’s constantly putting you down, however hard you try or however well you do?
Do you have far higher expectations of yourself than you do of others?
Do you beat yourself up over tiny mistakes you make?
Perhaps that voice is entirely reserved for yourself, but if you let it take over your life, then it’s likely to start speaking up when other people make small, understandable mistakes too.
This will prevent you from showing people the compassion they deserve.
Meditation is a wonderful way to develop the mental strength you need to be able to detect this little voice.
You might not be able to silence it completely or get it under your full control, but you should be able to distance yourself from it.
You just need to learn not to beat yourself up over insignificant details, but to focus on the bigger picture instead.
Starting with yourself, the compassion you develop will naturally spread so that you’re more understanding of those around you.
Make short daily meditations a part of your routine if you’re serious about upping your levels of compassion.
2. Do unto others…
Most of the world’s major religions say that you should treat others the way you would wish to be treated…
…and whatever your opinion of organized religion, it’s hard to argue with that concept.
It’s a pretty good golden rule to follow when you’re unsure how to act or what the best response is.
The key is to ask yourself how you would honestly want someone to respond if you were in their shoes, and act accordingly.
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If your goal is to practice compassion, an excellent place to start is to focus your whole attention on the person or people that you’re with at any particular time.
That will make the other person feel valued and special, and mean you’re more likely to pick up on the nuances of whatever it is they’re communicating to you through their body language as well as their words.
Look into their eyes and show them that you’re truly engaged with the interaction.
No checking your phone. No glancing at the TV. No idle people watching or glancing over their shoulder.
When you spend time with people who are important to you, try to make it quality time.
Most of us spend a lot of our time hearing without actually listening.
If you want someone to feel your compassion for them, one of the very best things you can do is to simply listen and let them get it all out.
Don’t chime in with stories about the time something similar happened to you or with comments you think will make them feel better.
Just let them talk about the situation in whatever way they need to.
5. Put yourself in their shoes.
To really show compassion toward someone without it coming across as insincere, you need to be able to imagine what it might be like to be in their situation.
Imagine how you would feel if the same thing were happening to you, and think about how you would want people to respond.
It can sometimes be difficult to imagine yourself in a situation you’ve never experienced first-hand before, so just do your best.
If you do what you genuinely believe to be right, that’s all anyone can ask of you.
6. Speak what you feel.
When you recognize that a person who has been telling you about their situation has finished speaking and the time has come to respond, just be genuine.
The words themselves matter less than you think.
Whilst saying ‘I’m so sorry’ might seem a bit meaningless on the surface of it, if you really mean it then the person will pick up on that.
Even words that seem so simple and inconsequential should be genuinely comforting to the person if you’re expressing a truth that you feel in your heart.
7. Appreciate the things you have.
This is a simplification, but we often automatically feel compassion for others when we assess our relative situations and establish that they’re worse off than we are.
So, if we’re pessimistic about our own situation and focus on all the negatives rather than being appreciative of all the things we do have, we’re not likely to feel compassion for others, are we?
It’s very easy to be negative about all the stresses of modern life, and forget to count our blessings.
If we start focusing on all the ways that we’re fortunate rather than the things about our lives that are less than ideal, we will realize just how lucky we actually are.
This will mean we naturally feel compassion for those going through tough times.
8. Keep smiling.
Obvious as it might seem, sometimes, when we’re having a bad day or week or things are tough generally, just seeing a smiling face can feel like a ray of golden sunshine piercing through thick layers of cloud.
If you want to be more compassionate toward people in general, make sure you don’t forget to smile at the people who cross your path during the course of the day, especially those you have direct interactions with.
Essentially, when it comes to being more compassionate, just follow your heart.
You know deep down what other people need from you when they’re going through the mill, so don’t second guess your instincts… let them lead the way.