What Is Compassion? Looking Beyond Yourself for a Better World

What Is Compassion? Looking Beyond Yourself for a Better World

what is compassion?

What is compassion? Find out what true compassion is, how to develop it, and how it benefits both yourself and the people around you.

What do you think of when you hear the word “compassion”? Maybe you think of giving out soup at a soup kitchen. Or helping someone to the car with their groceries.

Compassionate acts may be good or small. But, what is compassion, really?

Compassion goes beyond feelings of sympathy and empathy and puts them into action. In this article, we explore what it means to be compassionate in the truest sense of the word. Find out examples of compassion and how to embody this virtue in everyday life.

How Do You Define Compassion?

People define compassion in different ways.

Some believe that showing caring, kindness, or a willingness to help others is compassion.

Others believe caring about another person’s happiness like it was your own is the definition of compassion.

But there may be a deeper definition that we can access.

What is the true meaning of compassion?

True compassion goes beyond the understanding of another person’s suffering. Compassionate people feel compelled to do something to help or relieve the suffering they are confronted with.

The word compassion literally means to “suffer together” or “co-suffering.”

Well, when you feel compassion for those around you, you can’t stand by and watch someone else suffering. You are motivated to take action to stop the pain or help out.

What are examples of compassion in everyday life?

Do you want to show compassion in your daily life?

You may already perform small acts of compassion without realizing it. Some examples of everyday compassion include:

  • Helping someone with their groceries.
  • Opening the door for a single mother with her arms full.
  • Giving a stray dog food or water.
  • Buying a meal for a homeless person.

Compassionate acts don’t need to be grand shows of generosity. Nor do they need to be exclusively for someone who is in pain.

Eye contact and a non-judgmental ear when listening to someone speak is an act of compassion. Asking your cab driver how their day is going is an act of compassion.

These small acts connect you to other people and tell others that they are important. You’re letting them know that you see and appreciate them.


Compassion Synonyms That Bring the World Together

You may see other words used for compassion. These synonyms may imply similar positive emotions, but their definitions are slightly different. They include:

  • Benevolence: the disposition to do good, acts of kindness
  • Empathy: sensitivity or awareness of another’s feelings, experiences, or thoughts
  • Mercy: a fortunate circumstance, blessing, forbearance
  • Grace: disposition or instance of courtesy, clemency, or kindness
  • Kindness: the act of being kind

As you can see, many of these other words have similar connotations to compassion. But compassion embodies the element of practice.

For example, many people confuse empathy with compassion. But when it comes to compassion vs empathy, the proof is in the practice.

You can practice compassion. It’s a conscious choice, and if you do it often enough, it eventually becomes a part of who you are.

What Are the Benefits of Compassion?

Most people perform compassionate acts without the thought of reward. But there are benefits to behaving with compassion:

1. Brings happiness

Seeing money going to charity activates the same pleasure center in the brain that triggers when charity is given to us.

2. More attractive

Men and women both ranked compassion as an attractive trait in a potential mate.

3. Elevates everyone’s mood

Seeing people helping each other creates a state of elevated empathy and compassion for everyone around.

4. Spreads like a chain reaction

Compassionate acts inspire others to demonstrate kindness and generosity.

5. Boosts Health And Longevity

Creating positive connections with others can boost a person’s health and make them more resistant to illnesses.

6. Breaks through our own anxiety and depression

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, try changing your focus. Helping others can pull you out of negative feelings and help you gain perspective.

A Final Thought

If you want to create a world of caring and kindness, it’s up to you to put it out there first. Find ways to practice acts of compassion in your daily life.

Compassionate acts don’t need to be grand gestures. Every little deed counts. And each act will eventually turn that practice into a habit.

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Written by
Irina Yugay