Every Day Practices to Help You Increase Your Compassion

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If you want to live a richer life, learn to be more compassionate. It is our point of view that compassion – more than anything else – drives our health and happiness in life.stitch compassion cape
Therefore, we are making compassion a more central and visible part of the Brighton Jones Way of helping people live richer lives. As part of this effort we will be developing the skill of compassion all year long.  We invite you to join us.

The word “compassion” comes from Latin words meaning “to suffer together.” It is the feeling we have when we sense the suffering of another and feel compelled to alleviate that suffering. Compassion is related to empathy, which is the ability to take someone else’s perspective and feel their emotions. Nevertheless, compassion goes one step further than empathy, and motivates a person to take action and help. As with the other positive emotions we’ll explore during our Year of Happiness & Compassion, research indicates that compassion is both a trait we are born with and a skill we can develop.[1]  We think this is a remarkable finding and it has motivated us to explore more systematic ways we can train ourselves and others to be more compassionate. Here are a couple of short practices you can do every day to increase your compassion.

Compassion Practice #1 – Morning ritual:
Each morning make a simple declaration to yourself to expand your compassion that day. For example: “Today I am going to develop myself by expanding my heart and widening my circle of compassion. I am going to develop more compassion for others by becoming more aware of their suffering and increasing my desire to alleviate their suffering. ” The goal is to find some wording that is personally meaningful and will support your intention to increase your compassion.

Compassion Practice #2 – Contacting Compassion:
Take a quiet moment and imagine a time when a loved one of yours was suffering: maybe it was due to an illness, injury, or a difficult time. Take several minutes to connect with this mental image. Then, bring the person’s face into your mind’s eye and say silently to him or her: “I want you be free from this suffering. I want you to have peace, joy and happiness.” Try to contact the feeling of wishing this person well and notice what sensations are showing up in your body. Breathe easily and try to cultivate the feeling that is evoked in you.

We close with these words from the Dalai Lama: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Happy New Year from the entire team at Brighton Jones!

[This blog post is part of our Year of Happiness & Compassion series.  The initial post in that series can be found here: https://blog.brightonjones.com/join-us-in-making-2017-a-year-of-happiness-compassionWe invite you to visit this blog each month and be part our journey as we learn a new happiness skill. Also, if you’d like us to send you reminders and help keep you on track, please just let us know]

[1] Brain Can Be Trained in Compassion, Study Shows – Association for Psychological Science: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/compassion-training.html#.WGVdWVMrLI


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