5 Ways to Cultivate Compassion
If you want to be happy, practice compassion. -The Dalai Lama
Compassion is truly one of life’s greatest gifts.
Mindfulness teaches us that the kind of love that makes us most happy is the love that we feel towards others. To put it another way, love is something that we give – not something that we collect.
This is why compassion is so important.
From compassion, love arises. Not only does it make us more tolerant of the imperfections of others, it helps us to love ourselves. And it holds with it the precious key to lasting happiness and joy.
To cultivate compassion in your life, give these five tips a try.
1. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
You can’t talk about cultivating compassion without referring to this legendary golden rule. That’s because compassionate people strive to treat every living person with respect. Even the people they feel might not deserve it.
Of course, nothing in life is perfect. Even the most compassionate of people fall off the bandwagon. But in these instances, they take the high road. The bandwagon is re-boarded, and apologies are issued in due time.
Are you treating others the way you would want to be treated?
2. Embrace a “full circle” philosophy.
When it comes to compassion, it’s essential to embrace a “full circle” philosophy. This means that we try to see all sides of a situation rather than just our own.
So why is this important?
Mindfulness is about shifting perspective. It helps us see that all viewpoints provide only partial truth, at best. You see, we tend to believe that our own perspective is true. This inhibits our ability to see a situation from all sides.
Think about it like this…
If you stand in a circle, each person has a different view of the room and of the other people. The person across from you can see what is behind you. But you can’t see that view at all. So whose perception is right?
What we don’t often realize is that this principle holds true for all of our personal perspectives. We can never see the complete picture.
This is where embracing a “full circle” philosophy comes into play. If we embrace the idea that others have a different perspective than our own, it is easier to approach any given situation with greater compassion and empathy.
Make it a point to see life from a full circle perspective. You’ll be surprised at how it adds to the compassion that you feel for others.
3. Make helping those in need a part of your routine.
Whether it be serving the sick, the elderly, or even shelter animals, these acts truly cultivate compassion. And of equal importance, they make you feel good because you’ve given of yourself. Research organizations in need and consider volunteering. Commit as much of your time as you feel comfortable. But make it a regular commitment that you stick with.
4. Practice compassion meditation.
A compassion meditation is simply a mindfulness meditation with a focus on compassion. These types of meditations are sometimes known as loving kindness meditations.
To practice compassion meditation, a mantra is used. For those of you who are new to meditation, a mantra is a phrase that we repeat during meditation. It can be used as an anchor for concentration.
You can choose any mantra you’d like. Here are two that I use.
- To develop self-compassion… “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I have peace.”
- To develop compassion for others…“May we be happy. May we be healthy. May we have peace.” (The “we” can be a specific group of people (your family, friends, etc.) or all people in general. You can also use a specific person’s name instead of “we.”)
5. Treat yourself with loving kindness.
In practicing compassion, we often forget someone very important in the process. Ourselves. It’s easy to beat ourselves up…but what good does that do? You wouldn’t like it if someone pelted you with negatives. So why would you treat yourself this same way? Be kind, gentle and compassionate with yourself on a daily basis. Treat yourself with the utmost amount of kindness and respect.
To your mindfulness,