Why Compassion Matters

“Compassionate action involves working with ourselves as much as working with others.” ~ Pema Chodron

Eight years ago this month, I was in Sydney, Australia, to commence my formal coach training. It was an intensive program with 17 others from across the globe. There were countless practicum and significant Personal Foundation work. Yet eight years later, the discovery that remains most meaningful from those days was work we did to identify and begin to reorient around our core values.

Having chosen five values, we were also tasked with selecting which was our key value. My mind agreed with all five, yet it was my heart that made clear my key value: compassionate action. Not just compassion which dictionary.com defines as “(A) feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” While compassion alone is noble, the need for me was/is to do something with my compassion and that found me adding the word action. Thus, an adjective evolved into a verb.

To act in compassion toward others, one must first be compassionate with yourself. With Latin roots meaning co-suffering, compassion can only be integrated if we are willing to understand the other completely; to look at the other with a different perspective. A perspective that whatever the other does, the person acts with a positive intention about her/himself.

In compassionate action, we bring awareness to the truth of the present moment while holding a vision of our heart’s deepest wish to be loving to all. And for me, this means all sentient beings. The more we accept this the more we are able to see opportunities to grow ourselves and help others.

At this time of year, one which many see as a giving season, consider what action(s) you can take to alleviate the suffering of another, to reduce their pain. The following video shares 40 possible ways. There are many more. Be creative. Act. And in doing so, align with what really matters.

23 thoughts on “Why Compassion Matters

  1. Thanks Eric, compassionate action is so much more powerful than simple compassion or empathy. Unless it’s someone who just needs to be acknowledged and heard! Thanks for walking the talk. Nice suggestions on the video, though most of them seemed more about kindness to me. Wouldn’t compassion imply we respond to their need in the moment, not a prescribed act of kindness?

    • A good question, Brad. I believe in a strict literal sense, yes, compassionate action would be more specific to the immediate need. Yet I see considerable cross-over between compassionate action and random acts of kindness. In my view they are not mutually exclusive. In any case, as long as we are taking action and helping others/relieving suffering, we’re being in service. And that’s what counts, right? πŸ™‚ Merry Christmas, my friend. May peace and joy be yours!

  2. As always your inspiration and post hit home what is important in life Eric… Wonderful post..
    Wishing you a Joyous Christmas time, and wishing you continued blessings in 2014 …
    Happy Christmas
    Sue πŸ™‚

  3. A lovely thought for approaching a new year. I am coming to understand the importance of being compassionate towards ourselves. I do agree that we are more likely to be more compassionate and giving to others.

    • Believe it, Cat! You are worthy of your own love and compassion! And we can’t be so with and for others until we unto ourselves. Thank you for your kind comment. Wishing you all that is good and deserving as we head into a new year.

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