The Gift of Compassion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Penelope   

HandsongiftQuote of the month: Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment.
-Arthur Jersild.

Some "gifts" we can offer to others include... love, encouragement, joy and the gift of your time. The "gift" I want to focus on now is compassion. The quote above suggests that compassion is the peak of emotional maturity and of self-fulfillment. I won't suggest that it is always easy.... but the reward can be great.

This also overlaps with two of The Four Agreements - Agreement #2 -Don't take anything personally and agreement #3 - Don't make assumptions.

How does this look in real life? Say you are in line at the check out in the store. The clerk barely acknowledges you and only spouts the price when she is finished, tosses you the receipt and moves on to the next customer without so much as a thank you or a good bye.

The typical person might first, make the assumption that they had done something that upset the clerk and then secondly, take that personally and think something like she did not like them. They might think they had done something to anger her.... or for some reason, she decided to be mean to them. Following Agreement #3.... we are told not to make these type of assumptions and then following Agreement #2.... we are told to not take any of it personally. How can that be possible you say... it is directed at me... how can it not be personal?! Would you be rude back? Would you grab the receipt without a thank you? Would you stomp off without any niceties?

What if I then told you that the woman's husband just walked out on her and left her with 3 little kids to raise on her own. Only the week before, she found out that she had developed a life threatening disease. Would you feel a little bit differently? Would you consider how someone going through all that might feel and that they might not be in the best mood?

If so, you may be feeling compassion for her..... the dictionary defines it as..... a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

In real life terms... it simply means that you understand how she might feel. What if, instead, you dug down deep, put your own hurt feelings aside and smiled at her and said, "Thank you!" It doesn't cost you anything. It doesn't hurt you in any way.... what if you are the only person who was nice to her that day... maybe partly her own doing.... but even so.... one smile, one nice person may make a difference to her. AND it just might even make you feel GOOD!

Compassion involves a 2-step process of sorts. The first step is to step OUT of your own feeling about the situation. The second step is to step IN to what the other person may be experiencing or feeling. I'll briefly caution not to get lost IN their feeling but allow yourself to objectively understand or appreciate what the other person might be experiencing. Ask yourself how you might feel in that situation.ยท How would you wish for someone to react to you or treat you in that situation?

Very often we do not know the "back story" of the other person. I will go so far as to say nearly ANYONE who is behaving "badly" (I'll define "badly" rather loosely here) is in some way feeling badly about themselves, feeling down or upset about something. This includes your parents, your kids, your co-workers and especially your significant other!!! How about giving the gift of compassion this year to those people who you are closest to? You can get them a wrapped gift in a box too if you like.... but try experimenting with compassion now and then.... see how it works! Maybe you will even get a "gift" back as the quote above suggests!

Reposted from December 2010: Simply Spirituality
Comments (1)Add Comment
Clarissa Eads
written by Clarissa Eads, April 02, 2011
How true. Compassion is a gift that grows each time it's practiced. Thanks Penelope.

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