Global compassion is something that Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama have worked on increasing for quite a number of years now. It’s a point of great interest for them both, especially in view of the events that have and continue to happen across the world. And it makes a lot of sense, especially now for those of us coming from the perspective of a global citizen that isn’t directly involved or related to a particular tragic event. However, “compassion” is something many people may have different associations to its meaning because of a difference of reference. So allow me to provide some reading to broaden your views.
What Compassion Isn’t
Understanding what emotions are and aren’t helps us become more intelligent about ourselves. When people try to explain what compassion is, most definitions they come up with are described as ‘a feeling that’s kind of like‘ sympathy or empathy or mercy or mutual understanding. However, compassion is a little different and that subtle difference is important to why it’s not the same.
Sympathy, that is recognising that others are feeling sad or are going through difficulty, is part of what compassion is. Meanwhile, empathy tries to feel the same emotion that others are going through in order to understand it. However, compassion is the recognition of the sadness of others and the urge to be of assistance, but not to the extent of experiencing what others are going through.
Personally speaking, empathy isn’t very useful when you want to help most times for two reasons. Firstly, it’s not possible to feel exactly what others are going through. Any imagination of what it would feel like wouldn’t be an accurate representation. Secondly, feeling just as emotionally invested as the person who needs help getting out of it makes any help you offer un-objective and not from a calm and clear mind.
Why Develop Compassion?
We all have compassion right? So why would we want to develop it? Well…Here’s the thing. We don’t have compassion built into us like emotions. We can feel sadness and anger and all the other emotions. While recognising emotions in others is something we all have the ability to do, the desire to be of assistance isn’t automatic in everyone. Helping others is something we’ve learned to do. Unfortunately, it’s something we’re quickly unlearning because in the modern world, we are so focused on the pursuits of wealth that we are forgetting how courtesy, tolerance, respect are vital moral values we need to survive. Compassion then, is something we need to develop not just in ourselves and for ourselves, but also for the coming generations to pass on.
Developing compassion has to start by learning (or relearning) about our emotions once again. Because despite how we may have learned to behave or think about emotions, we all have them. We all can become affected by them. Having a good understanding about emotions can help us be ready and intelligent to manage ourselves and even others. And perhaps to be more compassionate as well as be of better assistance than just sending thoughts and prayers.
The key to remember about improving ourselves to be aware of it before we can do something about it. Dr. Ekman has designed a program where you can learn how to develop a better understanding about emotions for yourself and in others, called Emotional Skills and Competencies. Send your enquiries to us via our contact us page.