Compassion and Empathy

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There is a lot of talk today about being happy and how to get there. According to the Dalai Lama, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Radio personality Dr. Laura Schlesinger gave advice to people who were seriously unhappy to go out and help other people. Helping others appears to be one way to finding happiness.

What does this have to do with compassion and empathy? Everything. When we practice empathy, that is extending our imagination to where we can experience what someone else is going through in a different situation. Practicing compassion means to be loving and kind toward others.

Some people claim that they don’t feel that they naturally have any empathy or compassion for others. This doesn’t let you off the hook. In fact, it’s a cop-out. Developing compassion and empathy is a skill that can be developed over time. If you want to be happy, check and see where you might be able to improve your compassion and empathy IQ.

Look for common experiences. This is a key to positive and productive networking. But if you’re not genuine it won’t go anywhere. Put some authenticity behind it and suddenly you’ll find yourself very socially connected with people who genuinely enjoy your company. Our sense of compassion actually increases when there is a common connection between people.

Reduce the emphasis on financial reward. We already know that money can’t buy happiness. That also means that money doesn’t buy compassion either. As people climb in social status, their compassion for others tends to decline. Take a look at the monied class (celebrities, politicians, tycoons) to see how out of touch they are with the middle class.

Love Yourself. You thought I was going to say you have to love others, right? Yes, that’s the end goal. But if you don’t love yourself, it’s very difficult to be compassionate and loving toward others. Being gentle with your own human traits and habits is a much faster way to overcome problems than to beat yourself up about it. Other people respond better to compassionate understanding than being bullied too. Try it in the workplace sometime.

Be Present. When talking with others, be sure to focus on that person. Don’t worry about the beep or buzz from your cell phone notifying you of a text or email. Put yourself fully in the moment with the person you’re talking to in order to practice compassion and empathy. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll feel better.

Think back to times when someone has done something compassionate for you. It feels great. That’s a step toward happiness. Thank people who treat you with compassion and empathy and you’ll be on the road to feeling happier than you did before.

Photo Credit:
Hayes Valley Farm
via
Hayes Valley Farm
at Flickr