Compassion (noun): The deep awareness or sympathetic consciousness of another’s suffering with a desire to relieve or alleviate it.
When we talk about compassion, it is also very important to talk about self-compassion. Compassion is a character trait that is inherent in all humans, however it sometimes gets forgotten. When we are being critical and judgmental of ourselves or others, we are not being compassionate. To be compassionate, we can start with empathy. Empathy is identifying with or vicarious experience of another’s feelings, thoughts or attitudes.
This is the first step towards compassion: stop judging, try to understand. This means stop judging others and ourselves…if we try to look for the suffering, it is a lot easier to stop judging. From here, we can then ask how we can help.
Sometimes helping is as simple as a smile. A smile can show genuine care and be a ray of light for someone that is suffering. Smiling also releases dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, all of which help lower anxiety and increase feelings of happiness. And we all know that Smiles are Contagious: when you see someone smile, you smile.
Imagine how you can help someone else and yourself just by the simple act of smiling.
Observe your facial expression. Make it a point to smile when you make eye contact with a person. Even in today’s situation, wearing a mask, we still know when someone is smiling at us. It is not a wasted effort. See how it lights up their face (or eyes). See how it changes your mood.