Compassion, according to German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is the “basis of morality”. If kindness is an act, compassion is an orientation. Love comes mostly from our hearts. Thoughtfulness and kindness come mostly from our heads. Compassion comes from a beautiful combination of the two, working in concert with each other.
We practice compassion because we care. Compassion often involves putting our own feelings aside and thinking more about the other person. When we practice compassion we are saying to the other person “you really matter to me”. We care deeply about the other person, we do whatever we can to understand and support them.
We can’t always control what happens to us in life, but we can always control how we respond to what happens… “we have feelings, yes it’s true, we can think of what to do”. When we receive compassion from another person, we feel respected and honoured. We also feel that we are not alone. Without compassion the world can be a harsh and lonely place. Compassion helps us feel understood and connected to others because of the experience and feelings that are common to us all. As the Dalai Lama said “Compassion is a necessity, not a luxury. Without it, humanity cannot survive”.
In order to practice compassion we must develop and employ our observational skills. Our radar is in the “on” position. We notice when someone is in need. We are willing to act, and offer our help freely. We are able to think about how the other person is feeling, and let them know. We are able to look beyond their actions. Compassion allows us to consider the other person’s intentions.
It may be that at times we show our compassion by what we refrain from doing as well as what we choose to do: the best action is to do nothing. Or, we may show our compassion non-verbally in a gesture or expression that speaks volumes. Indeed, if we want to be a compassionate person we must ensure that our words and actions are consistent and fit well with each other… not only do we “talk the talk”, but we also “walk the walk”.
Ask your children what compassion would look like if…
You have to go and visit your grandparents, and you are not in the mood?
A friend is confused about what the teacher says?
Someone in your class is very quiet today?
Your father seems very tired after work?
-Tessa Lloyd, Junior School Counsellor