How to build a compassionate home-life

In the face of the challenges we face – not only in our own personal lives but in the world at large – it can be difficult to recall and activate our inner strengths. We might find ourselves overwhelmed by thoughts, emotions, and demands.

Creating a compassionate home is about teamwork. It is about seeing each member of the house – whether it is children, partners, parents, friends, or pets – as part of the same team. Teams pull in the same direction, help and encourage one another, communicate, and, ultimately, succeed together. Here are a few guiding principles to help you build a home that is compassionate.

1. Create open communication

It is so important that every family member feels able to express their thoughts, feelings, hopes, and frustrations. That breeds trust and ensures emerging issues are dealt with before they become almost unmanageable. To create open communication, model it. Ask how people are, involve them in decisions, be open about your own emotions, and, crucially, be receptive to feedback. Some households also like to plan a regular meeting – or at the very least create time when they can all be together talking, for example at the dinner table.

2. Share responsibilities

Compassion is about standing side-by-side with another and where this translates most obviously into the home environment is in the division of chores. Make sure that no one person is being unduly burdened by chores like washing and cleaning and try hard to embed a sense that everyone is doing their bit for the overall team.

3. Practice empathy

It can be very hard sometimes but it is important to practice putting yourself in the shoes of the others in your home. Maybe they forgot to put out the rubbish because they are tired from work. Maybe they seem distracted because they are worried about something. While it’s important that you receive respect in turn, try to start out from a position where you seek to better understand the experiences and perspectives of another.

4. Quality time

With our busy lifestyles – and increasing screen time – it is so important to ring-fence time that you will spend together as a household or family. This is a time when you are simply investing in each other. Dinner is sometimes the easiest time to do this but it can always include days out or games nights. Time, essentially, when you are being, not doing.

5. Conflict resolution

Recognize that conflicts are normal in any household – it’s a lot of time to spend with other people and disagreements are bound to emerge. The important thing to remember is that a disagreement does not have to turn into a fight. We can disagree and still be respectful. There’s no place for point-scoring or bullying in a compassionate home.

6. Support each other

It’s important that everyone’s interests and choices are supported. This should extend to both hobbies and work or school life. Take an interest in what everyone is doing and what matters to them and create space for them to express it. 

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