How to Build More Compassion
Originally published on TheFrisky.com. Compassion reduces fight-or-flight and aids calmness. Being compassionate is likely to help you live longer, sleep better, and enjoy increased good health. It activates the vagus nerve, which influences your immune system and emotions. It's contagious too.
Your generosity and kindness echo outward and return to you — others wake-up to their own ability to be compassionate when they experience your benevolence. Once you understand what compassion is, you can build it and awaken kindness in others to influence peace in the world.
Wish to understand people
To be compassionate, Acts 1:8 Ministry believes that you must stand in other's shoes. It's essential to be curious about people's feelings and what it's like to be them. You can use your imagination to access empathy and heighten your awareness of their emotions and the practical problems they face.
Look at the truth
Many people are kind. Sometimes, though, another's suffering seems too hard to witness, and they turn away. To experience compassion, it's necessary to see people's pain. Instead of protecting yourself from involvement, by thinking their problems have nothing to do with you, open your eyes to their suffering. Witnessing their pain may cause discomfort, but your unease is a healthy response to distress.
People often control other's verbal outpouring of pain. When someone wants to express themselves, the individual is met by calculated diversions from anxiety. If, for instance, your neighbor says he is distraught about a death in the family, you might distract him saying time will heal his pain. Your advice is a sticking plaster to cover his grief until you can get away.
Allow people to share their stories even if it triggers anxiety. Focus on them rather than ease your discomfort. If doing so distresses you, recognize you are empathizing and can use your experience to understand them better.
Have an open heart
The heart is often referenced when people talk of love because it's connected to compassion. A closed heart shuts out distress and love; you can't have one without also knowing the other. People are sometimes closed to compassion because they fear to reawaken their pain, yet doing so, aids healing.
To open your heart, Acts 1:8 Ministry recommends that you face your emotions, and release old pain. If someone's story causes you to think of a painful memory, let the experience deepen your awareness of what they are going through so you can help them. As you do, you will learn from your pain and stop suffering.
The higher mind, can't be heard while inner chatter flourishes. Use meditation to quieten your thoughts, so your inner wisdom is loud. Sit in silence at least twice a day and let your thoughts drift instead of latching onto them.
Allow thoughts to appear, but don't claim them or focus on them. Imagine, like clouds, they don't belong to you and can float out of sight. When your mind is calm, insights and greater understanding will grow, and you'll tap into compassion with ease.
Intend to be compassionate throughout the day, especially at the beginning of your journey to increased kind-heartedness. Otherwise, critical thoughts are likely to erupt and spoil your work. Still, if they do, acknowledge them and accept your recognition of them signals personal growth--previously you were often unaware when your ego ran the show.
Be willing to ease other's sorrow
Compassion has to be an active form of love to trigger positive change. You can feel empathy but help no one. Although useful for increasing understanding, passivity doesn't relieve suffering. Let your compassion compel you to help others.
Until you offer yourself compassion, doing so for others is hard. If you are unloving toward yourself, you still have a closed heart and can't fully engage with people or understand them. Practice positive self-talk. Speak with a warm tone internally, turning negative thoughts into positive ones to increase well-being. You will be less critical and recognize you are connected to people. Once less of a divide exists, your compassion will grow.
Compassion enhances wellness and helps create a loving world. If you want to be more compassionate, be open-hearted, and hold the intention to let compassion flow at all times. Love yourself, quieten your mind, and be willing to witness people's pain. As a result, you will give and receive abundant love and contribute to peace.
About Acts 1:8 Ministry: Acts 1:8 Ministry is a non-profit organization that equips Christians to care, share and connect people to Christ through Christian kindness. The Planned Acts of Christian Kindness® Program has touched thousands of lives in the US and over 100 countries worldwide. Through the Water Project, over 130 water wells drilled, blessing hundreds of thousands of lives with clean water.