Compassion is vital to helping people get through a tough time. However, being compassionate is hugely beneficial for you too. In this article, you will learn why compassion is important in so many ways.
I’ll start by defining what compassion and self-compassion are. I’ll then cover why compassion is important, and the hidden benefits that being more compassionate brings to you and others.
I’ll then reveal several ways to help you become more compassionate, so you reap the benefits too. Being compassionate is the perfect win-win. It’s fantastic for you and wonderful for the people that you support and interact with.
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What is Compassion?
Compassion is helping to relieve another person’s suffering through acts of kindness, caring, and support. It includes empathy, but it goes beyond that.
Empathy is being present to another person’s suffering. It’s feeling and sensing their emotional experience. It’s being non-judgmental. This is not judging how another person is dealing or not dealing with a difficult situation.
Compassion is being more concerned with the wellbeing of others, rather than yourself. It’s a natural skill that many people have forgotten in the busyness of modern life. However, you can relearn it and this article will show you how.
As you practice compassion more regularly, it becomes an attitude and a way of life. You understand why compassion is important and naturally identify yourself as a compassionate person. It’s part of who you are.
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is a vital component of compassion that is often over-looked. It’s key to understanding why compassion is important.
Self-compassion is being proactive in relieving your own suffering. It’s putting yourself first and being gentle and kind on yourself. It’s avoiding situations and people that could create suffering for you.
It is so much easier to be more compassionate with others when you’ve developed self-compassion first.
Why Compassion Is Important and Beneficial for You
I’m sure you already know the benefits of being more compassionate on others. However, there are so many reasons why compassion is important to you too. Here are a few of them.
Being more compassionate helps reduce anxiety by taking your mind off yourself. It gives you a break from your own problems and worries.
When you grasp and understand what someone else is going through, you appreciate your own life more. You realize that your life is okay. You gain a different perspective on your life.
I believe that compassion is the opposite of fear. It’s almost impossible to experience fear when you’re expressing compassion. This is because your mind and heart are totally connected with what the other person is going through.
Being compassionate reduces stress, especially when you practice self-compassion. You’ll drive yourself less hard and develop a sense of perspective around your own issues and deadlines. They will seem less important to you.
Self-compassion helps reduce burnout. You’ll look after yourself better and take more breaks.
This is a big reason why compassion is important. It makes you happier for 2 reasons. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, you’ll be less stressed, anxious or fearful. Secondly, the genuine desire to help others naturally brings out happiness and fulfilment in you.
The following quote from the Dalai Lama explains this beautifully!
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Being compassionate helps you understand other people at a deeper level. You develop better connections with other people. This leads to stronger friendships and more meaningful relationships that can last a lifetime.
Understand Yourself and Others More
When you practice compassion, you gain a richer experience of what other people are going through. This helps you understand yourself more and develop greater self-awareness.
Better Health and Wellbeing
A key reason compassion is important is that it’s good for you! It’s fantastic for your own health and wellbeing. I won’t go into all the reasons right now as this is well documented elsewhere.
Speed up Recovery from Diseases
Being more compassionate can speed up the recovery from diseases and promote healing. This includes yourself (especially when practising self-compassion), but also the other people that you express compassion to.
This is one reason compassion is vitally important in the medical industry. Medical practitioners that are compassionate have noticed patients healing faster and regaining their health more quickly. I believe this is because the patient feels valued, understood and important.
Also, the patient is more likely to return to this practitioner for further consultation.
Conversely, a medical practitioner that is very cold and scientific can leave a patient feeling helpless, misunderstood and overwhelmed.
Most medical practitioners receive little or no training on how to be compassionate with their patients. I hope this will change as compassion is such an important component to healing and physical recovery.
When you act with compassion, others that you interact with are inspired to act more compassionately too. It lifts them up and puts them in a higher emotional state. Compassion can spread like wildfire!
Less Road Rage
Imagine this slow driver in front of you. He looks lost, confused and forgets to signal before stopping. When you think and act with compassion, you will be more patient with this person. You’ll realise that this person is having a difficult day, or is a nervous driver.
This is a far better way to respond than becoming angry, frustrated or impatient with this driver.
Being compassionate is pleasurable and feels good. It creates more meaning and fulfilment in your life. It’s like giving a present to a loved one. You gain equal pleasure from giving and receiving.
How to Be More Compassionate
So now, you know what compassion and self compassion are. You have learned why compassion is important and the benefits of being more compassionate.
Let’s now cover some ways to help you develop more compassion.
Be Totally in the Present
A brilliant place to start is to develop the ability to be totally in the present. You’re completely in the moment when you’re not regretting things that happened in the past or worrying about things that might happen in the future. You’re totally in the here and now.
To get better at this, practice mindfulness. Focus on your senses. Notice what you see, hear, feel, and perhaps taste and touch too. When your brain focusses on the external senses, it has less brain power and capacity to pay attention to your thoughts, worries and concerns.
Let Go of Judgement
Your mind loves to make judgements, especially about other people! It’s the ego coming out to play! To be more compassionate, let go of judgement as much as possible and become non-judgemental.
This can be challenging to do, but it gets easier with practice. Whenever you notice yourself making a judgment about another person, immediately let go of the judgment and the meaning you created in your mind. Then switch to a caring, curious or compassionate thought instead.
It’s impossible to know how someone got into a difficult or challenging situation. It may be completely outside of their control. We can make judgements about how they got there, but we don’t know for sure.
And it’s also impossible to know how you would deal with the same situation yourself. You can’t determine how you would deal with it, unless you had experienced the same difficulty, upset or challenge.
Instead of judgment, focus on connection. Whenever you notice yourself making a judgment about another person, switch to making a better connection with them instead.
Practising mindfulness can help too. What I encourage you to do is notice what’s happening externally (using your senses). Then let go of any meaning or judgment that you give to what you see, hear and feel.
Another wonderful way is to practice gratitude. Notice what is good in your life, what is working out well and the things you appreciate.
When you’re being grateful for what you have, you’re naturally more compassionate to those people who are less fortunate than yourself.
The 11 Benefits of Gratitude and How to Practice it Daily
Be Kind on Yourself
When you’re hard on yourself and focusing on all your mistakes, this benefits no one. Also, if you’re ruminating excessively, or self-loathing, then you’re not in a good emotional space to be compassionate with others.
So instead, practice self-compassion. Start with acts of self-love. Then reward yourself, notice your good points more and forgive yourself.
Think and Act from the Heart
Another marvellous way to develop compassion is to think and act from the heart rather than the head. The head is the place for logical reasoning, analysing and decision making. It’s very hard to be compassionate when you’re thinking from your head.
The heart is your emotional center. This is where all the positive emotions such as joy, love and compassion come from.
When you put your attention on your heart, rather than your head, you’ll be naturally more compassionate. Try it and see this for yourself!
This is being yourself and acting naturally, it’s thinking, saying, and doing whatever comes naturally. Often, we believe we should say or do certain things to help another person. However, when you think from the heart and become aware of your intuition, you can often help people more effectively and compassionately.
We naturally have compassion. It becomes lost with the stresses and anxieties of modern daily life. When you take some time out to relax and unwind, you can regain your authentic self and the compassion that comes with that.
This can either be volunteering your time or donating some money towards an important and meaningful cause. This is a wonderful way to display compassion.
A study found that retired people who volunteered regularly lived longer than those that didn’t. So volunteering is good for you!
You now know what compassion and self-compassion are. You understand why compassion is important to you and other people. You’ve learned the benefits of being more compassionate and discovered several ways to develop more compassion. It’s now time to apply this to your life and reap the rewards.
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