Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Can compassion makes us better people?

I often wonder if most of us wake up in the morning and say, “I am going to treat myself with compassion today?” Probably not, but I would like to think that most of us do think about treating others with compassion on a daily basis.

How compassion makes us better peopleDaily, we experience failures, loss, grief, emotional upheaval, physical injuries and illness. At times, we have to wonder how we are going to make it another day but somehow we muster that strength needed to carry us through.

We live in a society that places an incredible amount of value on material success, physical perfection, having successful friends, bling, wearing the best clothes, driving fancy cars, and eating at the nicest restaurants. Sadly, I hear people are constantly comparing themselves to others, gossiping, and even rooting for other’s failures. I often wonder if people even realize they are doing it.

It is inevitable we will experience struggle in our daily lives. Of course, suffering an illness, losing a job, experiencing significant psychological challenges for example, may drop one a couple notches on the  success society ladder. While it is natural to experience some emotional turmoil in the aftermath of various types of loss, injury and trauma, we are often hardest on ourselves.

While we must hold ourselves to high standards and be responsible, we must also understand that we need to treat ourselves compassionately.

Compassion is a strong emotion and selfless behavior that arises when we see another suffering. It motivates us to help, to make a difference. Backed by science, compassion has a biological basis, slowing down our heart-rate, and secreting oxytocin, along with areas of our brain that lights up when we feel compassion. In essence compassion creates happiness. Compassion makes us better people, and compassion is necessary to self-care.

How can we increase our capacity for self-care?

  • Give ourselves credit for the special people we are, what we have done for others, and other accomplishments.
  • Treat ourselves with Acceptance.
  • Stop comparing ourselves to others.
  • Practice mindfulness, becoming more aware of our reactions to fear and worry.
  • Stop blaming others for their misfortunes.
  • Stop blaming ourselves and others for our own misfortunes.
  • Know we can make a difference.
  • Live equality.
  • Be tolerant but stop absorbing other’s negativity.
  • Stop judging others and ourselves.
  • Let go of expectations.
  • Care for ourselves as we would care for others.
  • In all circumstances be real and do not let our egos dictate thought or behavior.
  • Know we are heroes.

I know I am not telling anyone anything they do not already know but I do think it helps us to be reminded of the importance of things that benefit humankind as a whole.

We will have experiences, both good and bad. We can choose to let some harden our hearts or we can seek the life-lesson.  For me, I want to know how to let each of my own life experiences teach me how to be a good steward.

So, it begins from within. Let’s face it, we are not the only ones on this planet and the earth certainly does not revolve around us. We must make an effort to be cognizant and remember it is a choice to love ourselves as much as others. Peace.