Sunday, September 18, 2011

What can I do today to help?

compassion Since this last week was one where a family member had a serious health issue, a video on “compassion’ caught my attention yesterday morning. 

First, we need to have some definitions:
  • Empathy:  To recognize, and to some extent, share feelings that are being experienced by another.
    • A person might need a certain amount of empathy before they can feel compassion.
  • Compassion:  A deep awareness of the suffering of another.  To suffer together with another … to shelter and embrace the distressed.
In the TED video Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of empathy discussed the elements of compassion. 

Ms. Halifax explained that compassion is an inherent human quality.  A person fully engaged in a compassionate situation feels (experiences)  the suffering a lot more, but returns to their baseline (normal state) much quicker.  She said that researchers have also proven that compassion enhances our own immune system.  There is something within the process that strengthens us physically and emotionally.

There were two components of compassion.
  1. A capacity to see clearly into the nature of the suffering … including a desire to transform the suffering.
  2. The ability to not become attached to the potential outcome ... living in the moment without concern for what might or will happen.

I know there have been times where I stumbled looking for the right words.  I also know that I occasionally ‘over-talk’ when perhaps all the person wanted was for me to just be there for him or her.  My wife is far better at ‘being there’ than I am.  It is time I learn from a master.


Making a difference

In another similar video an example was given of how just one shift in your daily thought process can change your life.  What if you woke up every morning and asked,

“What can I do today to help one other person or creature?” 

You are not going to change the world, but you are going to make a difference one person (or creature) at a time.  How would you feel at the end of each day knowing that you helped someone or something?  Wouldn’t you be happier and more content?

I am putting a post-it note on my bathroom mirror today.  Are you?

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