One of the most challenging things to do for a modern man is to practice compassion. Our entire education system is built on bolstering the intellect. In this, we forget to relate to people as human beings – frail, sensitive and prone to the vagaries of changing whims. The difference is just this. Lets say your loved one has had a terrible day at the office and walks in to the house. He or she finds something out of place and says, “Even such a simple thing isn’t in place”. Our response to this typically tends to be, “What do you mean? If you think you can do it, then do it yourself”. This is a reaction to the statement – absolutely true undoubtedly – nevertheless a logical answer. However, what this does is to alienate the other. And since we want a happy relationship, this does not lead to the goal we seek. On the other hand, an appropriate response could be, “I know I am sorry I didn’t take care of it”. Or even better – silence.
This is the true meaning of compassion. Understanding that the other person is a human who is prone to emotional upheavals and not a machine that must always react to us in a predescribed way. This understanding, this knowledge is extremely vital if we want to maintain relationships and maintain a sane mind, especially as we age. However, this is easier said than done. It takes tremendous self-restraint to prevent acidous words from spewing out of oneself. This is where I have found asking myself a simple question helps immensely.
“Do I want the other person to be happy?”
Asking oneself, “Do I want the other to be happy?” can be transformational. To most of us, the answer is a resounding “yes”. But in the spur of the moment, we almost want to put down, beat the other person by our words – prove ourselves right. Take a deep breathe, close your eyes and ask yourself this honest question. What happens, is a shift in the energy in the mind and body. The knot of anger and reactive behavior releases and frees up the mind to understand that the person opposite me is a frail human just like me. This understanding is compassion. May we all practice it earnestly.
Take a deep breathe, close your eyes and ask yourself this honest question.