It is near to impossible to fake compassion for others — you either feel it or you don’t. But the power of compassion is undeniable because it makes us feel more positive about ourselves and the world around us.
How To Become More Compassionate
To enliven your own empathy, kindness and consideration for others, here are ten different ways to become a more compassionate person.
Also check out our collection of compassionate empathy quotes for more inspiration.
Begin with Self-Compassion
We can be hard on others, but usually the person who gets the brunt of our harshness, is ourselves. And oh boy, it is hard to offer compassion for others when you can’t even extend it to your own person.
Begin by avoiding the labels of “good” or “bad” and accept yourself because self-criticism is not helpful or hopeful.
Look for commonalities, not differences. It can be easier to identify how you differ from another person, than how you are the same. But try.
You needn’t find big, overarching similarities. The crossover between you and the other can be very small — but you need to find them. It isn’t impossible. There are always parallels between you and another person.
This will help you to relate to them, not see them as a stereotype and in the end create a bond enabling you to feel compassion.
Compassion is based upon comparison of sorts between what you and another person’s experience. If you perceive that your suffering is equal or greater than the other’s, you will struggle to develop sympathy for them.
However, if you are able to see all that you can be thankful for, you’ll more easily be able to feel compassion towards someone who isn’t as fortunate as you.
There are various ways to cultivate your appreciation, including keeping gratitude journal and writing thank you letters.
Words are powerful tools which can empower or harm.
It’s like my mom always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” What motherly wisdom.
Words can lift someone up in the moment but they can also have a lasting positive effect.
Also kindness begets kindness. When you find compassion for another person and articulate it through words, they will pass it along.
We can get caught up in how circumstances effect and affect us. It can be a real challenge to step outside of yourself to see another perspective. Try to consider how another person is influenced by a situation.
You can do this by asking yourself some simple questions:
How would I be feeling if this happened to me?
How’d my family and friends feel if it was me?
How would I respond?
What would I find helpful at a challenging time like this?
By considering the other person’s perspective, you’ll likely increase your positive feelings toward them and generate a larger sense of overlap with them. Ultimately, you’ll want to provide help to them.
When in conversation with another person, we can be thinking about what we want to say next. We seek the next opportunity to add our ten cents.
When trying to generate compassion for another, try to abandon your desire to have a rebuttal. Instead, actively listen. Suspend making any conclusions and offer the other person you full attention.
Foster your Support Network
To know how to offer compassion, it is good to know what it feels like to receive it.
To remind yourself of the gift compassion has and continues to give you, spend time with family and friends who are there for you. Let their example inspire you and help inform how you extend compassion to others.
Being in the presence of your loved ones will allow you to find joy and have fun, which will re-energize you to then be emotionally available to others.
Don’t Focus on the Bottom-line
Yes, we all need money to pay for food, our rent or mortgages and car payments, but it can get in the way of our empathy.
The University of California at Berkeley have studied how advancing in socioeconomic ways can compromise compassion. The study findings showed that as more money and material possessions are acquired, the less feelings we have for the wellbeing of others.
Now this doesn’t mean that striving for financial goals should be abandoned. Instead it should serve as a reminder to not put all your focus on accumulating wealth and material possessions. Rather you should concern yourself with developing connections with people.
When we are distracted by all the noise of the world, we cannot focus on what is right in front of us. To be able to identity those in need of compassion, we must first be able to quiet the racket in our lives and heads.
You can help yourself to become more present by practicing meditation. By clearing your mind you’ll be better able to concentrate and focus on the people around you who may need your time and attention.
Contribute your time, lightly used household items or charitable donations as a way to cultivate compassion. Giving back activates the same parts of our brains as sex, money and dessert. A study by the National Institute of Health observed that someone giving money experiences the same positive feelings as when they receive money themselves!
Not only that but social scientists have found that helping is contagious. Acts of generosity and thoughtfulness inspire more of the same, into a chain reaction of goodness.
Getting caught up in ourselves and our needs can make for a lonely existence. If you can look beyond yourself, cultivate compassion and engage with others, your life will be full of love, joy and connection. Not only that, you’ll be healthier, as a compassionate lifestyle creates a buffer against stress.