Cultivating compassion benefits us and the world around us in many ways.
-motivates and inspires us
-helps us deal with stress
-helps us deal with loneliness
-inspires others to be compassionate
Compassion is a worldview that can help us have the opportunity to be home anywhere and create and strengthen communities.
In ‘A Fearless Heart’ Thupten Jinpa says, “Kindness affirms something fundamental to our human condition – our need for and appreciation of connection with our fellow humans.”
Compassion brings us together and connects us to other people. It brings us together in a way that few other things can but more importantly it penetrates the rigid walls we put up that separate us from other people. We’ve been kicked in the heart so we try to put our hearts in cages. But that’s not a good way to live. We can uncage our hearts instead and dare to be kind and open.
Jinpa goes on to say, “If we look, we will always find people who are helping, in big ways or small, because it’s one of the things humans were born to do.”
This echoes the quote from Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
It can be easy to have a negative view of humanity. We see so many things that make us think people are bad. I was going to say this is especially true with the strife and division that is happening now, but it was probably true throughout human history. But we can always look for the helpers. Big and small acts of kindness are happening all the time.
One more quote from Jinpa. He said, “We humans haven’t given ourselves enough credit – and we suffer from the self-fulfilling prophecy of selfishness.”
When we look for trouble, we can find it. When we start from thinking the worst about people, we can find faults.
But what if we don’t look for trouble? What if we stop looking for signs that people are bad?
How can we be confident that people are good, that our true nature is compassion and wisdom?
Is this an article of faith? Is this what I believe in in spite of evidence? I get a lot from looking for the helpers. You can see selfless people all the time if you’re looking for them.
Also, studies show that being compassionate and seeing the world in a positive way are linked. Caring about other people brings you some measure of happiness and joy. Thinking it’s a terrible world and other people are all jerks will make you sad.
I was a depressed and negative teenager before I was a positive adult (as many people are). I thought the world was awful, I thought other people were out to get me, and I hated movies with happy endings. And I was endlessly unhappy.
When I set an intention to be a more positive person, it changed everything. Compassion isn’t just a virtue we’re trying to cultivate. It’s a worldview. If you change how you see the world, you can change your life.
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