If you want to others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – Dalai Lama
“Maybe you should try practicing some compassion,” I said to my friend.
“I do! I try to think of what I did to trigger his actions. What can I say that will make him not get upset?”
My friend was stuck in herself. What could she say or do that would make someone else behave differently? That’s not practicing compassion, that’s practicing controlling. (Controlling can masquerade as consideration, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Compassion employs empathy to imagine what it must be like to be that person in that moment.
Here’s an example:
Sometimes my husband works from home. He’ll come upstairs for lunch and grab a sandwich and then disappear downstairs.
Selfishness takes it personally, “What did I do that made him go back downstairs? Did I piss him off?” Selfishness creates disharmony.
Compassion says “He must have so much to do, I bet he’s feeling a lot of stress. How can I help?”
Compassion is the source of harmony. When I am able to practice a genuine compassion for my family, my customers, my colleagues, my friends, and even complete strangers, then my mind is at ease. I’m happy. If I’m thinking of what other people are going through it’s easier to see where I can be most useful. Being useful helps other people, which in turn makes them happy.
Just for Today
Today I will look at where selfishness has had free rein. I will try to imagine what others’ lives are like and try not to take things so personally.
God, thanks for demonstrating compassion for me. Help me today to follow your example and practice compassion especially towards those people who really irritate me. Help me to remember that the practice of compassion is to help rid me of selfishness and discord. May I do your will.