Posted by: Edward | November 15, 2015

The Four Parts of Compassion

I think a key thing we need to cultivate in ourselves and to encourage in the world is compassion. It is the best of us, when being human is a compliment. A literal translation of the word might be shared suffering. It is related to empathy but takes a few steps beyond it.

The root of compassion is in empathy, understanding what someone else is going through from their point of view. The willingness to try seeing things through someone else’s eyes will over time increase your ability to do so. This could be considered the intellectual aspect of compassion.

The emotional aspect is found in sharing the feeling with the other person. If, for example, you realize that the person you are talking to is feeling sad, allow yourself to feel sad with them. This isn’t that hard to do, we already come equipped with what are called mirror neurons, which allow us to feel what others feel.

If you are able to share the other person’s feelings you may find that a desire to help them arises naturally. To help them with their suffering will help you with the suffering you now share. If it does, let it bloom within you. It is a beautiful thing. This is the intentional aspect of compassion.

And the last part of compassion is to let that desire to help become a concrete action. Do something to reach out of yourself and help another person. Sure, this will help them. Additionally, studies show this will even make you a happier person. But more importantly, it’s one small way we can make the world a little better.

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