The People Pro® Blog

Looking For Happiness? Try Compassion

By Barbara Bartlein, RN, LCSW, CSP

Looking for more serenity and ways to be happier? Hoping for better connections with friends and family? Try a little compassion.

Compassion is defined as “experiencing feelings of loving kindness toward another person’s affliction.” It’s related to empathy, which is feeling another’s emotions, but is rooted in kindness.

Amishi Jha, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami has conducted research on attention, compassion and mindfulness. She has found that compassion is the key to coping. The compassionate tend to have deeper connections with others and more friends. They are more forgiving and have a stronger sense of life purpose.

Compassion also has direct personal benefit. The compassionate tend to be happier, healthier, more self-confident, less self-critical and more resilient.

A large industry exists to teach you compassion, but you don’t have to spend money to improve. You can start with an exercise called the Loving Kindness Meditation. All you need is a quiet corner and about 20 minutes or so.

  • Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
  • Focus on slow, deep breaths and try to clear your mind
  • The key is to be in the present in that quiet space
  • Focus on your heart and think about someone you feel tenderness and affection for
  • It could be a child, your mom or a spouse
  • Dwell on those thoughts and then extend the same feeling toward yourself
  • Expand that same feeling out to others. Maybe someone you aren’t as close to and think tenderly about them.

Research shows that this simple exercise really does strengthen your sense of compassion. It broadens your attention, your thinking and your overall sense of well-being in a way that lasts.

 Try a little compassion in your life. As the author, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., once said, “We are all in this together, whatever the hell this is.”

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