“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — Dalai Lama
We all try to improve our lives to be happy using different strategies. Some are better than the others and some in fact leave the opposite impact. In my opinion, the real happiness when we and the people around us are happy. Here we will discuss two distinct approaches that people tend to follow.
The Wrong Approach to be Happy — Pleasure vs Happiness
It is common that in order to be happy we tend to become materialistic. We all are inclined to buy a new phone, a car, or an expensive meal and usually expect it is going to make us happy and content. We show it off to our friends and family. They like it, congratulate us, applaud us and then they forget. Soon, we have also lost the spark or happiness which we felt in the beginning. This shows that the materialistic approach is far from providing true happiness. But it does not end here. Some people take it one step forward. And in order to be happy, they choose the path to attain pleasure.
The most damaging approach to be happy is to confuse pleasure with happiness
Right pleasure is great, it excites you for a couple of moments, hours, or days. All stuff like gambling, sex, drugs is a good supply for pleasure and drives you to the seventh sky. But they are all short term and can leave you addicted and craving for more and more again. Well, what such people miss to notice is that, if you are craving for something, then it is damaging your mental health, let alone making you happy. I am not pursuing you to stop spending on yourself completely rather it is ok if you put efforts to make your life comfortable enough as much as you can afford. One step forward and the craving for luxury becomes the problem.
What is the better approach to feel happy then? Short answer, Compassion. Here is the long one.
A Better Approach to be Happy — Practice Compassion
According to vocabulary.com, the definition of compassion is:
Compassion is the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it
It is amazing to notice that real peace does not depend upon how much you spend on yourself, instead, it depends on how much you help others, ease their suffering, and make them happy. It is not rocket science to understand compassion, neither it requires you to spend tons of money to practice compassion. Even a simple smile counts towards compassion and is good enough to make someone’s morning good.
Now we know that practicing compassion is way more powerful than the materialistic approach, but what is the simple strategy or steps to follow compassion that you can follow daily. Let me give you the examples of how champs do it
- If you Ruth Pfau, you can move from Germany to Pakistan and spend rest of your life eradicating leprosy from the country
- If you are Abdus Sattar Edhi, you donate all your earnings and savings and launch the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network
Just kidding. Definitely, to practice compassion it is not mandatory to become so generous, and neither it is easy to become a monk or priest — at least for me. Most of us have our own constraints, commitments, and limitations. I am going to tell you simple strategies that you can integrate into your same current life, without disturbing your finances and daily schedule and still feel happier.
Here I am providing a list of great compassion practices. You can start them from today even. You might practice or know some of these but I bet this will add many new techniques to practice compassion in your arsenal
1. Morning ritual
First and foremost, the time when you wake up is the most important. You have to make an ordered routine. Besides drinking a good amount of water and doing exercise for physical fitness, you should make a habit of practicing compassion towards yourself. Because
Whatever you do, feel or say in the morning, your mind subconsciously believes it. And the feeling you choose may stay with you throughout the day and beyond
Nothing more can be said to justify the importance of morning rituals. Now, instead of waking up checking your messages, emails, or Medium stats, you can do many better things. First of all just don’t touch the mobile phone in the morning — well that is tough but try it. Besides that, feel thankful to God for another day of life alive and healthy, and thank God for everything you have and you had. Also, here is what you should say to yourself, according to Dalai Lama:
Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
2. When you meet someone, be empathetic
Many people lack this trait. They treat them according to their designation and status. If it is a servant they are always commanding, if it is a boss they are always pleasing, and if it is a beggar they are always shouting. Well, I am not talking about anyone specifically but we all know or met someone who does this and it is quite possible you are doing it on some level as well. Well, whoever you meet is a human being after all and living a different life and you don’t know what he or she is going through, so never act like a jerk towards a weak just because they can’t complain because they have no authority. Find out where you are doing injustice and change your attitude towards that situation.
3. Practice Kindness
A great opportunity to practice compassion is to practice kindness. I am not saying there is something you are doing unkind or you are cruel to someone. But going the extra mile in kindness does not affect you much, but on the other hand, it can impact others significantly.
Here is how you can practice kindness “daily”
- Start small. A smile, a kind word or a greeting is enough to make someone’s day or evening good
- Make a habit of donating daily, weekly, and monthly. Again, I am not talking about becoming a philanthropist. Donating $10 a week, every week can create a huge difference for those who are in need
- Try to be a good listener for others. Sometimes people don’t want advice they just want someone to listen to them
- Always try to give some extra to your Uber/taxi driver
- Always try to give extra to the Foodpanda delivery guy
- Always give tips to waiters
- Always give something to a beggar daily,
- Always try to tip the guards, watchman, parking guy and other helper staff you have or meet
4. Attitude towards those who mistreat you
Well, this is a tough one. Every now and then we encounter someone or some situation which hurts us — or which hurts us a lot. We, of course, sometimes ignore it or control the situation. Here your compassion can help you to understand and control your emotions. Think like maybe the other person is having a bad day or is going through a tragedy in the family or something — which is quite reasonable as well. In that case, you help forgive the person and move on in no time. But wait, let’s dig deeper.
However, if the negative attitude repeats again and again for no particular reason then being kind towards him is actually not a good approach and won’t do any good. This is quite a practical situation and I can’t just ignore the negative real-life scenarios just because it goes out of the context of providing listicles of practicing compassion. Actually, it will make me a hypocrite if I don’t discuss the problem which may cause others to suffer. Well, coming to the point on how can you deal with someone who is not compassionate-worthy. A better approach would be to part your pays from that person, report to the authorities if needed, and cut all ties so that there is no way to continue such behavior. But, seeking revenge is never a solution to a problem.
“Before You Embark On A Journey Of Revenge, Dig Two Graves” — Confucius
Enough of the To-Dos that contribute towards practicing compassion. Here is the list of items for your Not-To-Do list.
- If you throw trash anywhere, stop this habit right now
- Stop wasting water and shut the tap off when you don’t need it
- Do not mock beggars, poor or handicapped
- Never bargain from small vendors like fruits and vegetable sellers or small shop owners. Just think about it, you never bargain in a good restaurant and always try to give a good tip, when they don’t need it. On the other hand, you bargain with those, who need this money more and are living on the edge
- Never be cruel towards animals or kill them. They deserve love and sympathy. Besides each and every animal is contributing to nature and helping us survive. By killing animals you are eventually killing humanity. So stop doing your contribution right now
The above points may sound subtle and apparently does not make a huge difference in your life. But on a larger scope, it does affect the current life of many others, your own life as a whole, and some of them are really necessary for the ecosystem of our planet Earth as well.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” — Robert Brault
So far, we have seen a great lot of ideas on how you can practice compassion daily. Some you already follow, some are easy to follow and some require you to change your habits which is extremely tough. But above all, we have a clear idea of what compassion is and how it is beneficial for us and others as well. Virtual hugs to everybody who has read so far.