Compassion, alongside curiosity, will be one of the main subjects I’ll be rambling about on my blog. Shocking, given the name of my website, ey? Anyway, since I’ll be talking about this A LOT (buckle up), I first wanted to write a series of blogs exploring what compassion actually is.
What does compassion me to you?
Think about this for 30 seconds. What comes to mind?
Perhaps you thought synonyms for compassion such as pity, kindness or sympathy? Or maybe you thought of situations that would call for compassion such as homelessness, terminally ill children or war? Leave me a comment about what this means to you. I recently played the word association game with a few different people. It’s one of my favourite things to do. I threw in “compassion” to see what this word really brings to mind and the above examples are the most common answers I heard.
The Cambridge Dictionary definition is:
a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them
Looking at this definition alongside the words people fumbled out under the pressure of the word association game, I noticed a couple of things.
Firstly, the situations calling for compassion are all negative – war, homelessness etc. So compassion is generally something that we see as a reactionary emotion following something unfortunate. Secondly, although compassion is generally considered to be a warm feeling we should extend to others, when we think about being compassionate, we tend to think of situations that feel distant. You may not have. Your mind may have jumped to someone or something extremely close but the vast majority of people don’t.
I want to question our idea of compassion.
With more people than ever suffering with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, it is more important than ever to be compassionate. We live in a world where everyone feels pressure to be happy all the time but that, frankly, is bullsh*t. We’re human and we will suffer and we will be sad. But sympathy and sadness are pretty useless. The reason compassion is so important is that part about wishing to help people.
I want to see if a shift to viewing compassion as something less distant and more proactive can help us lead kinder, better lives. Even in the definition of compassion, the example sentence describes compassion as something that should be shown. Typically, we think of it as something we should show towards other people. This is actually a really narrow definition and I’ll be exploring the true range of this emotion.
If you’ve read my About Me page, you’ll already know that the first part of my blog name refers partly to my vegan lifestyle, including animals and the planet in the places you can be compassionate towards. As much as we all know that this is something we should be showing to other people, do we realise we can also show it to ourselves, to earthlings, to the planet?
Who/What Can We Be Compassionate Towards?
Our Own Bodies
Our Own Minds
Therefore, each part of this series will look at each of the above. I’ll also try to tackle the big question: how do we go from “should be” to “am” compassionate. This is a series intro so it’s all a bit woolly but hopefully over the next few posts, I’ll actually dive into some useful, practical tips to live a little more compassionately!
I hope you find something of value in the series and if you do, don’t be shy! Leave a comment or drop me an email!