When you commit to practicing compassion, your relationships become more intimate. Anxiety and depression lessen. Your mind becomes quieter, allowing you to receive clearer inner guidance. You become more attractive to people you meet because they can feel your heart. You’re more likely to find your calling. You feel the deep fulfillment of knowing you are contributing to a more loving world.
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But what exactly is compassion? And how do we cultivate it in everyday life? Here are a few tips:
1. Move beyond your self-referencing.
From the time we are children, many of us are taught the, “It’s all about me” mentality. But in reality, we are all one. Practice shifting your perspective away from exclusively thinking about how something affects you. This doesn’t mean selling yourself out in order to be nice to someone else — that’s not self-compassion! But it does mean expanding your awareness to make room for the interconnectedness that unites us all.
2. Practice kindness, without people-pleasing.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, says, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” But many people mistake people-pleasing and approval-seeking with kindness. Kindness doesn’t mean selling out what’s true for you in order to make someone else feel good. Authentic kindness stems from a place of wholeness within, where there is no separation between the giver and the receiver. Whether you’re giving gifts, granting forgiveness, or bestowing love upon someone, true kindness blesses you as much as it does the one you’re serving.
3. Relax your judgments.
What if we could just let go of all the dualistic judgments that label everything as “right” or “wrong,” “good” or “bad?” What if, instead, we could just trust that life is hard and everyone is doing the best they can? Releasing judgment of others starts with letting go of self-judgments.
4. Listen generously.
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. teaches the practice of “generous listening” as a gateway to compassion and a tool for healing. Most of us don’t truly listen. We’re always interrupting, judging what someone says, or trying to fix. Rachel says, “Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people, they can hear truth in themselves, often for the first time. And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone. Eventually, you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the unseen singing softly to itself and to you.”