” If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” –Dalai Lama
I have written about the secrets of happiness, how I found my own happiness and yet I still have more to write about. This is simply because not only do people need to be reminded that they hold the key to their own happiness but there are numerous ways to be happy that do not require getting what you think you want. One way to be a happier person is to be compassionate.
Compassion is a noun in the English language and means to suffer with another person. It is more about being empathetic to a person’s feelings rather than being sympathetic. The main difference between sympathy and empathy is that sympathy is about feeling bad for the person’s situation and empathetic is about literally and physically feeling the pain of the person who is suffering.
I have always considered myself to be a sympathetic person until I realized that when my friends or family were suffering, I too would feel physically ill because I would take their feelings on as my own. I have learned that being compassionate can also mean helping as best I can and then stepping back and letting them help themselves.
I have found that I get so caught up in my everyday life problems that I forget that I am not living on an island; that I am a part of the human race. I am a part of the world; I am part of my family’s lives, my friend’s lives and humanity. Some cynics may roll their eyes at me,but when I see other person and their problems, I feel the need to reach out to them and help them. There are times I help people by simply being an ear to listen to their problems, or helping someone out with a small gesture of random kindness, but by helping out other people I feel like I am helping myself in turn. I feel better about my own problems when I help someone with their own problems because it gives me a mental break from my worries and I can focus all my positive energy onto that person. Afterwards, I feel refreshed and have a new outlook on my own life, whether that be gratitude for what I have or simply satisfied that I made a difference in another’s life.
I do not feel sorry for people, I feel more like a small raft in the middle of their sea of worry and perhaps I can save them. If I can’t save them, at least I can take them to a more secure place that lets them know that there are people out there that care for them. Taking a moment out of our busy lives to have compassion for another person helps our own lives be happier because we are refocusing our energies on positivity and in turn, we feel more positive.
Remember that being compassionate is not about being religious, it is about being human. If you can’t feel compassion for other person, than how do you expect anyone to feel any compassion for you? If you are unwilling to look outside of your tiny world and into the outside world around you, then are you really living or are you simply being?
Real Life Example: I have had several friends go through rough breakups and they turned to me for advice and for a shoulder to cry on. I have given myself to these people with an open ear day or night whenever they needed me. I have listened to them and given them advice, never knowing if they were taking in anything I was saying or understanding how much time I was taking away from my own life. I never thought about it at the times when these situations have come up, but I felt immense compassion for them that I would lie awake at night praying for them and worrying about their broken hearts as if they were my own. At the end of the day, most of my friends have been grateful for the time I gave to them and the advice I shared with them. This in turn led to a better friendships with some of these friends and in turn has made me a happier person because I know that in some small way I have helped them be a happier person.