Practicing compassion: finding your “why” for change

Find your motive for change

In a world that often feels disconnected, fast-paced and divided, the need for compassion has never been more apparent. Yet most of us aspire to show more compassion in our daily lives. We want to have deeper connections, be better friends, and create a more just society. But moving from intention to action can be challenging. How do we translate those desires into concrete behaviors that spread and embed compassion?

What matters to you

The first step is identifying what compassion means to you. What moves you. What gives you a sense of passion or empathy? For some, it may be speaking out against injustice. For others, it could be showing up for a friend in need. There’s no one right way – compassion takes countless forms. What matters is finding the expression of compassion that aligns with your core values and motivations.

Get used to self-reflection

This requires self-reflection. Compassionate practice starts with self-reflection and an honest exploration of personal values, motivations, and aspirations. Identifying these key elements lays the foundation for understanding the role compassion plays in our lives. Take time to consider: What injustices in the world trouble you most? What relationships matter most to you, and how can you strengthen them? When do you feel most fulfilled – helping a cause, listening to someone’s problems, or brightening someone’s day with a kind word? 

Be led by your passions

Self-reflection reveals our passion. Researchers find that passion is key for sustaining compassionate action over time. It elevates compassion from an intellectual exercise to an emotional, soul-stirring experience. Our passion may stem from different sources – outrage at injustice, spiritual callings, empathy for the suffering, a longing to see more goodness in the world. For those who are passionate about addressing injustices, compassion becomes a powerful catalyst for instigating societal change. It propels individuals to challenge systems of inequality, advocate for the marginalized, and strive for a more equitable society.

And notice your values

While our motivations are unique, certain values unite us. Amidst the diversity of human experiences, research has shown that certain values are shared by people across different cultures and backgrounds. Love, respect, and understanding are among the fundamental human aspirations that bridge the gaps between individuals. We cannot have a compassionate world if these values are not enacted across communities, countries, and cultures. This suggests a dual responsibility: showing compassion to those closest to us while also extending care to humanity at large. 

Here are a few suggestions for incorporating your values into your daily life and effecting meaningful and compassionate change through small, consistent actions:

  • Volunteer for an organization aligned with a cause you care about 
  • Check in on friends and family facing hardship
  • Introduce yourself to new neighbors and coworkers 
  • Perform simple acts of service without expectation 
  • Listen deeply without judgment
  • Speak out against prejudice and injustice when you witness it
  • Reflect on your own biases and how you can counter them
  • Advocate for policies that enable greater access and equity
  • Join us at the GCC by volunteering as a Compassion Connector

You can help change the world

Compassion is not merely an abstract concept but a transformative force that has the power to heal wounds, bridge divides, and ignite positive change. By understanding the significance of compassion in our lives and recognizing its universal appeal, we pave the way for a more interconnected and compassionate world. As we continue on this journey, let us remember that the change we seek begins within ourselves, in our actions, and in the way we choose to engage with the world. Together, through compassionate practice, we can create a brighter and more compassionate future for generations to come.

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