Compassion and mindfulness are generally considered to be innately human. After all, we, as a species, wouldn’t survive up to this point if it weren’t for the civilizations built to help each other survive. However, as the centuries pass and with the scarcity of resources, it has become apparent that humans also have a ruthless side.
Research on empathy and compassion indicates that these emotions have been declining since the early 1990s. The authors of the study determined that empathy and compassion have been declining since the early 1990s. They theorize that compassion needs to be taught and that people are steadily forgetting to cultivate compassion.
Compassion during Times of Stress
During times of stress, people’s lack of empathy is more evident. It is more difficult to become compassionate when we are dealing with numerous stressful events. However, we should not let ourselves lose our own compassion as it is the definition of being human.
If we are undergoing a lot of stress, we often forget how to show our love and appreciation to our friends and families. We might even take our anger out on them. While anger is a valid emotion in many situations, how you express that anger may not be appropriate. You should also consider that your friends and families only want to help you become better. Being angry at them over trivial things is a sign that you are letting stress take away your compassion.
So, how can we cultivate compassion when life seems to be really hard? Well, it all comes down to being mindful about not just the things you do but also every thought that crosses your mind.
What Does It Mean to Be Mindful?
The next question is, what does being mindful mean? The simplest definition is being aware or conscious of something. Well, it’s easy to be aware, right? While it seems that way, we are often so used to being on autopilot that being mindful becomes challenging.
When you are mindful, it does not only mean that you are present. It also means that you are aware that you are present in that moment. You might think that there’s no difference between the two, but the fact that you are aware can give you a lot of benefits.
Being mindful gives another layer of meaning to your life. You are not simply just living your life; you are experiencing life. And most important of all, you are aware that you are experiencing your life. Being on autopilot and doing one task after another without being mindful gives you endless days of doing the same thing over and over again. But by simply being aware, you are suddenly in a position where everything seems new.
Considering Other People’s Situation
So, how does being mindful factor into compassion? The secret lies in being aware of other people’s situations. Mindful compassion is being aware of the hardships they might face. This understanding leads us to cultivate compassion within ourselves and to extend that to people in need.
Another factor to consider is being aware of your own thoughts. When you analyze other people’s actions, you should always think of what they are going through. There might be reasons why they are doing what they do. To be compassionate is to understand this complexity and look beneath it.
People often say your first thought reflects how you really feel, but in fact, your first thought is often what society has conditioned you to think. Your second thought defines who you are.
To cultivate compassion, before you say the first thing you think of, you consider how it will impact the person you are talking to. If you are more mindful of your words, you will avoid saying things that might end up hurting them instead of helping them.
When someone asks for your help, even though you are already struggling yourself, you may feel annoyed or even angry. After all, you have enough to deal with and may not think you have anything to offer them.
While it is not your job to help someone every time they face a problem, it is your responsibility—to yourself—to be compassionate towards them. Let go of your negative thoughts and instead focus on productive things that you can do to help other people. Even if you cannot immediately solve their problems, your kind words and understanding ear can lift them up. The kindness you would want from them is the same kindness you give to other people.
The Mindfulness Meditation
The path towards being mindful is not an easy one. Since we were children, we have been told what to do. As we grow up, society pressures us into doing certain things to fit in. To become mindful, you need to address this issue.
Here’s where mindfulness meditation comes in. With the help of guided mindfulness meditation, you can easily become more compassionate.
In a research study called Meditation Increases Compassionate Responses to Suffering, they tested three groups of people on how they will respond to other people suffering. It revealed that people who had undergone meditation are more likely to help people who are suffering. However, the study’s more interesting findings reveal that people who have undergone mindfulness meditation are more compassionate than those who have undergone compassion meditation.
Does being mindful helps you become more compassionate? The short answer is yes. The habit of doing mindfulness meditation can help you be more mindful, and at the same time, more compassionate.
Self-Compassion and Mindfulness
Being compassionate doesn’t mean putting other people’s needs ahead of yours, but rather considering their needs where you can. And to respond with compassion, whether you can help them or not. If you are compassionate towards other people, you are also giving yourself a chance to feel the positive emotions that result from being good.
By allowing yourself to let go of destructive emotions and thoughts, you will learn to love yourself better. Instead of harboring hatred, you are letting yourself have more space for positive emotions such as compassion and understanding.
Why Cultivate Compassion?
Being burdened by hatred and other emotions that can affect our judgment can shape us into people who do not have an ounce of compassion in their hearts. To cultivate compassion, there’s a lot of steps you can take. However, one of the most effective ones is mindfulness meditation.
If you find yourself feeling less than compassionate towards others, don’t beat yourself up over it. Take a step back, take a few breaths, and consider what they are going through. Then consider if your words are helpful or hurtful. It takes practice, but over time you will feel the difference.