- Make eye contact more often—Making eye contact lets others know we are paying attention to them, it tells them we care, and we are interested in what they have to say. Do you best to slow down and make eye contact with strangers as you walk into the bank or grocery store, say hello or smile.
- Listen—When a loved one is speaking to us about a heart-felt situation it is an act of compassion to do nothing except listen. Do your best to ignore the cell phone (texts and phone calls can wait). Turn off the TV. Do you best not to think about what chores need to be done or the dishes in the sink or the emails that need to be answered. Simply be attentive. Ask questions if you are not clear about how she feels so you really feel like you understand what’s going on with your partner’s emotional state and in turn she will most likely feel validated and heard creating more closeness—more intimacy.
- Live with curiosity—As you drive to the bank or go to the grocery store walk with curiosity for those around you. What is it like to be that guy in such a hurry that cut you off in the parking lot? What is going on for that women who seems to be oblivious that anyone else is in the store? How hard must life be for the homeless guy who is on the corner. Is he starving, freezing, hungry—how many times a day does he struggle just to be comfortable? Really spend a few minutes wondering what each of these people’s lives must be like. Think about the pain they may carry, or the struggles they are living with. Think about the cold night the homeless man will endure. Be open to feeling what life is like for others. If you find yourself judging these people as not enough or victims do your best to redirect your energy to a softer perspective that sees their humanness (how are you the same). If you feel or hear your intuition—listen. Your intuition will help guide you as you learn to see the world around you with more compassionate eyes. If you feel sadness from seeing the pain of others maybe say a silent prayer or intention and send it their way as you walk by. I often send silent prayers and intentions such as, “May you be blessed. May you be free from suffering. May you know your life matters. May you feel love. May you feel safe.” Live with awareness of what is going on around you.
- Giving—Buy a box of power bars or nut bars, leave them in your car and give them to homeless people that you randomly pass during your day. Dog treats are great too when there is a canine companion on the street corner.
- Giving—Buy a cup of coffee for the stranger behind you in line at the coffee drive-through. When I feel like the world is against me and no one is being empathetic to my struggles in life, this is my “go to” act of compassion. This small act of kindness always seems to shift my focus enough for me to get out of my own way. I imagine how this small gift may profoundly shift the perspective, energy, or outcome of the stranger in the car behind me and her day.
- Kindness—The next time you are at a party and see someone who feels uncomfortable or alone strike up a conversation with them, include them. Seek to make them feel at ease. We all know what it’s like to feel awkward with an unfamiliar group of people, ease that discomfort with sincerity and love—learn what moves this new person.
- Intentions—Set the intention every morning for the universe, god, and goddess to provide an opportunity today where you may practice your compassion. The universe may give you an opportunity to open the door for an elderly couple, to smile at a homeless man who feels invisible, to listen to a friend who is hurting, to offer a prayer or intention to the women in the store who looks like she is barely making it. There are limitless different opportunities, that may arise from being open to acting with compassion.
- Follow the guidelines—It is a sign of respect to do what is asked of us. When the sign says, “Wait here,” it is out of respect that we do our best to honor the wishes and guidelines set by the employees of the establishments we patronize. Our actions may affect these employees in ways we do not understand when we do not follow the guidelines set forth. Do your best to be patient, wait for the teller to call you forward. Try to re-frame any judgments about the teller being ineffective or taking a particularly long time to help you.
- Self-awareness—During conversations with friends and family think about what it feels like to be on the other end of your conversation. Are you monopolizing the conversation? Are you asking questions of the other person or just talking about yourself? Are you quiet as the other person dominates? Did the conversation feed you or are you left feeling tired and somewhat overwhelmed? Self-awareness is a key to deepening our ability to see others, when we know what is going on inside of us we can more easily sense with accuracy what is going on in those around us. This is an ongoing tool to help us deepen our understanding of the wake we leave behind. Self-awareness allows us to be aware of the energy we bring into conversation and it allows us to feel how we are affected by the energy of others.
- Communication—One aspect of communicating with compassion is to allow others space when we request their time and attention. Be sensitive to what they may have going on and ask if this is a good time, “May I speak to you about this project or maybe there is a better time later this week?” “Does it work for you to have that report on my desk by Friday?” “I am curious if you have time to help with this project. How does that feel for you?” It is difficult when we walk into our colleague’s office and immediately pull them into the emergency we have created in our minds’. Compassionate communication values and honors what the other person is presently doing or experiencing. Do your best to pay attention to the energy you bring to a conversation—the energy you bring is often what affects how people receive you and how they respond to you. With compassionate communication our goal is communicate in a way that honors and respects all people involved.
Do you have any ideas for the list…what is one thing you have done to show compassion in everyday life? Please email me or reply to this blog.
May you feel peace and ease in life. May your path be brightened with light. May you become all you are intended to be.