How Can We Make a More Compassionate World?

by Gail Mooney
December 17 2012

Once again, I try to make sense of another senseless act of violence – this time one that snuffed out the lives of 20 innocent children.  Every time there is another tragedy caused by guns, we question our firearms laws and vow to do something about the “problem”.  The usual discussion takes place with lots of talk on both sides of the issue and then dissipates – until the next tragedy.

I think the “problem” goes beyond the discussion of a “right to bear arms”.  I think it speaks to a greater problem and that is how we deal with our fellow man.

Maggie Doyne and some of her children at the Kopila Valley Children’s Home in Surkhet, Nepal

Too often we judge others without knowing much about their circumstances.  Too often we seek to be understood but don’t place importance on seeking to understand someone else.  I think this happens when we become too insular – when we don’t allow ourselves to become in tune to the rest of the world or even our own communities.

Some simple thoughts on how we can become more compassionate:

  • Seek to understand – not just to be understood.  I wish I had a dollar every time someone said to me “my point is…….” – I would be rich.  Every time you are tempted to make “your” point – also make an attempt to understand someone else’s.
  • Learn to forgive – Human beings are far from perfect.  They do things and say things they usually wish they hadn’t.  When we forgive others for the hurt they’ve done to us, we free ourselves from the pain as well.  When we don’t forgive, we keep the negativity inside. It ends up consuming us.  Try forgiveness instead.
  • Don’t judge others – There’s an old saying “people who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw rocks”.  Don’t judge others unless you want to be judged by them.
  • Don’t bully – There are many ways people bully – it’s not always overt.  Bullying really means forcing your way on someone else.  When you ignore someone, you are being just as much of a bully as someone who is more aggressive.  Essentially, you are no different in how you go about “getting your way”.
  • Treat people how you would like to be treated.  Stop and think before you speak and act. Would you like to be treated that way. I’ve never liked cliques for this reason.  There’s always an exclusionary aspect to a clique.  There’s always judgments being made about who should and shouldn’t belong.
  • Do things for someone without the expectation of return.  The rewards of giving are just that – the act of giving itself is the biggest reward you give yourself. When you do something and expect something in return and it doesn’t happen – it takes away the joy of giving.
  • How many times have you told yourself that you will be more caring and giving?  And how many times do you let that thought slip into oblivion without acting on it. Next time you say that – follow through.
  • Every simple act of kindness adds up.  Imagine if we all did something kind for someone every day. Just imagine.
  • Look past the someone’s exterior.  It’s hard sometimes to look past the actions of someone.  We end up questioning and taking things personally when in fact many times someone’s actions have nothing to do with us
  • Live a compassionate life and teach your children through your actions what that means.  It starts there. Showing compassion is one of the best ways to make our world a better place. You will set an example for your children and they will pass that along to future generations.

What are other ways we can be compassionate?

“Compassion and happiness are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.” ~Dalai Lama

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