Compassion is a response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. However, compassion should not be confused with sympathy or empathy. To begin with, sympathy is feeling sorry for another’s hurt or pain in which there is an emotional distance or a disconnection. Empathy on the next hand takes things a little deeper in that it is the ability to experience some of the pain that the other person may be passing through; it is walking in another’s shoes. Compassion however, translates the empathetic feeling into action, making it comfortably sit at the top of the emotional ladder.

True compassion reaches out to all people, whether they are friends or not. It is the willingness to stand alongside someone and to put their needs before our own. The care and concern we have for others is a profound outward expression of how we feel about ourselves. For example, if you are angry or distrusting of others, your outward treatment of them is a reflection of how you see the world and those in it. It is difficult to have compassion for those that are hungry until you have been hungry. As we come to respect ourselves, our respect for others will increase. Equally, the opposite is true.

Living a compassionate life can be cultured – it is not just something that some ‘extra-good’ persons are born with. It is  a learning curve and not some divine endowment. Below are some suggestions to develop our compassion:

Setting Judgment Aside
Never be too quick to make negative assessments of others who do not quite meet your expectations. Also remember that first impressions may not always be accurate.

Understanding Viewpoints
Behavioural patterns are rooted in some degree of rationality, which most times are only evident to the other person. Taking the time out to inquire and ask questions will assist a great deal in understanding their perspective.

Express Appreciation
Constantly looking out for opportunities to contribute to the success or well being of others goes a long way as we feel more positive and our actions are likely to be replicated by others.

Speaking Kind Words
Kind words are like buckets of water in the Sahara. Not only will a kind word lift a person in the blue moments, but those words may completely impact that person for the rest of their life. 

Kindness begets kindness. If you are kind to others, they will in turn be kind to you and to those around them, causing a wonderful ripple effect.

By Moshood Azeez
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