Following on from the previous topic of self-compassion, today I want to talk about choosing compassion for others over judgement. Showing compassion has positive impacts on our wellbeing as individuals but also for society as a whole. It helps to strengthen our character and build resilient and connected communities which support our health and wellbeing.
Compassionate thoughts and behaviours help to:
- Improve your mood
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Increase feelings of connectedness
- Promote trust and bonding in relationships
- Increase your overall happiness and wellbeing
- Boost your life and work satisfaction
See Psychology Today: 20 Reasons Why Compassion Is So Important in Psychology
Why is judging others bad for our wellbeing?
On the other hand, judging others leads to conflict and separation. Instead of healthy and supportive communities, we create divided ones that feel unsafe and untrustworthy. Not only that, if we think unkindly about others, those thoughts remain inside of us. If we critise others, we are more likely to criticise ourselves and attract criticism from others too. Next time you feel like judging someone, ask yourself how you would feel in their situation? We are all part of common humanity and yet we have our individual differences and life circumstances which shape our beliefs and drive our behaviours.
When someone says something we don’t agree with, we can often mistake these feelings for a dislike of the person as a whole. They could be the kindest, most interesting person but if we disagree on a core level (e.g. religion, politics) we can disregard them and even feel hostile towards them. We are seeing this today with the “vaccine wars” with friends and neighbours becoming aggressive towards each other because they disagree on a fundamental level about this one thing. Such conflict is driven by fear and by not seeing the whole picture. We tend to focus in on the small things and forget the things that do connect us.
Can we become more compassionate?
Compassion is a natural trait that we are born with as a result of evolution. Children show compassion to different degrees but research shows that compassion is also a skill that can be learned and refined. There are many education programs aimed at increasing compassion amongst school children or in the workplace. The outcomes of these interventions show increased levels of compassion and wellbeing amongst the participants.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, check out this interesting report on compassion and wellbeing from the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion.
Ways to show more compassion to others
We don’t have to become Mother Theresa or Gandhi to receive the benefits of compassion for our own wellbeing and that of those around us. Small actions that we take daily can have a huge effect. Some ways in which we can show kindness compassion to others:
- Truly listen to a friend (without distraction or interruption)
- Smile and say hello to a neighbour
- Volunteer for a local charity
- Help an older relative with shopping or housework
- Support a colleague with a difficult task at work
- Celebrate and share the joy in others’ successes
- Comfort someone going through a difficult time
- Buy a hot drink for a homeless person
- Donate old clothes to a charity
- Adopt a stray animal and show it love
Sometimes it might feel like we don’t have time to show compassion. We are so busy with work, families and the thousands of other demands of modern day living. But simple acts of support and kindness to others will energise you and boost your mood, helping you to get these things done with a smile. In addition, as the old saying goes, what comes around goes around. If you offer compassion to others, they are more likely to behave compassionately towards you too.
Rather than a negative spiral of judgement and conflict, you will create a positive spiral of understanding and mutual support!
Today’s challenge: Random act of kindness
Today’s task to improve your wellbeing is to choose one small act of kindness you can do to show compassion to someone in your life. You can use the list above for ideas or think of your own. Pay attention to your feelings before and after – hopefully you will experience a boost in your mood and happiness as a result of showing kindness to another human!
Over to you…
If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.
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