18 May THE FORGOTTEN EXERCISE
– Dalai Lama
Compassion – what does the word mean to you? How would you define it?
I like to think of it as having the simple and universal bottom line of “we’re all in this together”. Whatever it means to you, I think we can all agree that, sadly, it is a noticeably-depleting human resource.
The good news? You can actually change the plasticity of your brain by training compassion, just like you can train a specific muscle group. Training compassion causes a tendency towards pure altruistic helping as opposed to reciprocity-based helping. That is – you genuinely want to help that person for pure selfless reasons, not just because they helped you first.
How do you train your compassion muscle? Simple…use it more often. In today’s hectic world you will get plenty of opportunities. The next time somebody jumps in front of you in the coffee line or beeps their horn at you for taking too long to accelerate at a green light – forgive them. Remind yourself that it’s not their fault that they act the way they do. Instead of reacting from the same egoic place that fuelled their actions, perhaps ask the question; “What does this person need”? Try to see life through their eyes. Who knows what they have just been through. Remember – it’s just another human being on the same journey as you, searching for the same things that all humans are searching for; love and connection.
Once your compassion muscle starts to grow, you (and even those around you) can begin to enjoy the benefits: resilience, motivation, calm, stress mitigation, a feeling of righteousness – basically a better person in a better community. Ultimately, this practice aims at cultivating feelings of benevolence towards all human beings, because let’s be honest – we all just want to get along! Start your training today.