Kind And Compassionate People Are The Happiest
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." — Dalai Lama
What makes us truly happy? Many people believe that "achieving & receiving" makes for the happiest life. But the research says otherwise.
According to the latest science, true happiness comes from practicing compassion. It is when we help our fellow man, when we feel connected to the world, when we give expecting nothing in return, when we are kind just to be kind, and when we see people as "other-selves" instead of "others" — that life takes on meaning and purpose.
In fact, a brain imaging study by University of British Columbia researchers showed that, when we donate to charity, our brain's "pleasure center" lights up like the full moon on a clear night. Another University of San Diego study found that acts of kindness, generosity, and cooperation spread like wildfire to everyone nearby.
If spreading joy throughout the world wasn't enough, practicing compassion and kindness opens the door to a host of health benefits. Like what? From living longer, to alleviating anxiety, to lifting depression, to strengthening immunity, the list goes on.
It seems that the old saying "Give... and you shall receive" is anchored in truth.
Compassion is the most powerful force in the world. It can defeat indifference, intolerance and injustice. It is able to replace judgment with acceptance because it makes no distinction between age, ethnicity, gender or disability. It freely embraces the rich diversity of humanity by treating everyone as equals. It benefits both those who receive it and those who share it. Every person on earth desires it, and every human being deserves it.
Compassion embraces the noblest characteristics of human beings. It allows us to think of others instead of always focusing on ourselves. It refuses to be selfish, it is willing to forgive, and it accepts people for who they are. Compassion gives us the ability to understand someone else’s situation and the desire to take action to improve their lives. It is the quality that allows us to step outside of ourselves and see the circumstances of others. It supplies the will power to do what is necessary to make the world a more caring place. Compassion inspires us to make an immediate and effective effort to come to the assistance of those who are dealing with challenges.
Compassion is particularly important to those who are vulnerable. For people who are dependent on others for help and support, compassion is often the most important factor in allowing them to lead fulfilling lives. Therefore, we have a moral imperative to treat them as equals and to ensure that they enjoy the same rights as other members of society. They should never be marginalized or subjected to isolation. For those individuals, compassion provides respect while preserving their dignity.
Compassion is the greatest gift one human being can share with another. It is never too late for us to make a positive difference in the world. We simply start by thinking of others first. We consider their needs instead of focusing exclusively on what we want. We try to realize that our problems are often insignificant compared to what others face. We can each begin, right now, to enjoy a life based on compassion that will lead us on a fulfilling journey. We will experience a deep sense of joy in our efforts to improve lives. We will quickly understand how rewarding life can be when we sincerely make the effort to bring hope and opportunity to those facing challenges. We can learn to feel good about ourselves for attempting to be part of the solution. We can embrace a cause that is bigger than our small personal world. If we will begin to fill our lives with compassion, we will develop an increasing awareness of the courageous struggles waged daily by our fellow human beings.
Ways to Cultivate Compassion: -
Start by practicing self-compassion.
Most of us have harsh inner critics who judge us, put us down, and punish us when we make mistakes. As long as you have an inner general beating you up for your inevitable imperfections, you’ll find it difficult to be compassionate with others when they reveal their humanness.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Life is hard, but we’re all doing the best we can. As the saying goes, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." This video from the Cleveland Clinic will soften your heart and grow your empathy muscles.
Move beyond your self-referencing.
From the time we are children, many of us are taught them, “It’s all about me” mentality. But in reality, we are all one. Practice shifting your perspective away from exclusively thinking about how something affects you. This doesn’t mean selling yourself out in order to be nice to someone else — that’s not self-compassion! But it does mean expanding your awareness to make room for the interconnectedness that unites us all.
Practice kindness, without people-pleasing.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, says, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” But many people mistake people-pleasing and approval-seeking with kindness. Kindness doesn’t mean selling out what’s true for you in order to make someone else feel good. Authentic kindness stems from a place of wholeness within, where there is no separation between the giver and the receiver. Whether you’re giving gifts, granting forgiveness, or bestowing love upon someone, true kindness blesses you as much as it does the one you're serving.
Relax your judgments.
What if we could just let go of all the dualistic judgments that label everything as “right” or “wrong,” “good” or “bad?” What if, instead, we could just trust that life is hard and everyone is doing the best they can? Releasing judgment of others starts with letting go of self-judgments.
Heal your own trauma.
If you hold on to unhealed trauma, you'll likely traumatize others unintentionally. Just as the abused child often grows up to become the abuser, inner turmoil tends to inflict outer turmoil. If you are in need of deep inner healing, seek out the support of a skilled therapist, spiritual counselor, or life coach who can facilitate your inner transformation. When you do the work to heal your psyche and connect to your soul, compassion is a natural by-product.
Try being fully present with everyone you encounter. Avoid looking at your phone, multitasking, glancing at the TV behind your lunch date, or paying attention to anyone other than the one you’re with. Make eye contact. Notice body language. See if you can really feel what the other might be thinking beneath the words. When you are truly present, your presence has a tendency to be experienced as compassion.
Practice radical self-care.
In order to truly offer compassion to others, you first have to fill yourself. This kind of behavior is not selfish; it’s self-care. Once you tend to your own needs, you can serve others from a place of overflowing love, energy, and abundance. You feel so good that you want to share your bounty with those who can use a little uplifting.
Yoga for compassion
1. Supta Baddha Konasana: Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Place a three-fold blanket on a bolster as a firm pillow. Sitting with buttocks against the back of bolster, bend your knees and place soles of feet together. Loop the strap around the hips near the sacrum (not lower back), over the top of the thighs and under the ankles. Pull the strap to a comfortably tight position. Gently recline back over the bolster on an exhalation. Adjust position of blanket so it is under your head and neck, not your shoulders. Rest your arms to the sides, palms up. Allow your body and mind to rest deeply as you naturally lengthen your breath and sigh tension away. Feel your chest opening as you relax into the bolster. Rest for a few minutes, slowly come up to sitting and remove the strap.
2. Mountain Brook Pose
Position a three-fold blanket and a half-folded, tightly rolled blanket on your mat. Lie over them, adjusting accordingly so the rolled blanket sits under your shoulder blades and the three-fold blanket becomes a pillow for your head and neck. Place the bolster under your knees. Bring the arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Rest deeply, breathing slow, steady breaths as your upper back softens and releases into the pose. If uncomfortable, reduce the height of the rolled blanket then continue the pose. Stay in the pose for a few minutes if you can, then release by removing the rolled blanket and lie flat for a few moments to neutralize the spine.
3. Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana: Supported Bridge Pose
Position two bolsters lengthways on the mat. Sitting on bolsters, strap the thighs together just above the knees to secure internal rotation of the femurs (thigh bones). Lie over the bolsters so the edge is pressing against your mid-thoracic spine and your shoulders and head are resting on the mat. If your lower back feels uncomfortable in the pose, bend your knees up, resting your feet on the bolster. Allow this backbend to open you emotionally and provide space in your life for compassion for the self and others. Breathe into your heart center with love. To release from the pose, gently come off the bolsters, remove the strap and lie flat for a few moments to neutralize the spine.
4. Reclining Twist with a Bolster
Sit with the side of the left hip touching the edge of the bolster, knees bent, feet together and swung behind to the right. Gently twist the torso to face the bolster. Inhale. On exhalation, fold your body over the bolster. Turn your head to the left. Stay in the pose for a few minutes, then release and repeat on the other side. If you need more height, place additional blanket(s) on the bolster.
5. Forward Virasana Hugging Bolster
Sitting on the knees facing the bolster, separate your knees to the width of the mat and bring your big toes to touch. Bring the bolster in between your legs. Inhale. On exhalation, pivot from the hips and fold yourself over the bolster. Turn your head to the left. Wrap your arms around the bolster, hugging it. After a while, turn your head to the right. Slowly release from the pose.
6. Viparita Karani: Legs Up the Wall
Line up the bolster or folded blankets close to the wall on your mat, leaving a small gap between the wall and the bolster. Sit sideways on the edge of the bolster with the left hip touching the wall. Bring the legs up the wall as you bring the head and shoulders to rest on floor. Adjust so the buttocks are touching the wall. Strap the thighs together just above the knees to allow you to rest deeply into the pose. Apply compassion and love to yourself as you give over to the healing benefits of this pose, flushing your circulatory system and detoxifying your body and mind, refreshing and balancing your energies.
7. Savasana: Relaxation Pose
Lie on your back with the bolster under your knees to further relax your body into the pose, palms facing up on the floor. Scan your body and consciously release tension from the feet up. Then keep your mind focused on your breath. Breathe compassion into every cell in your body.
Meditation for compassion
The Dalai Lama speaks of a meditation called “the practice of giving and receiving”. It helps bring compassion for all beings, including those you don’t know. He explains, “Visualize taking upon yourself all the suffering, pain, negativity and undesirable experiences of other sentient beings and giving away or sharing with others your own positive qualities, such as your virtuous states of mind, your positive energy, your wealth, your happiness and so forth.” This contemplation enhances your feelings of compassion, which is necessary before acting to alleviate another’s suffering.
Essential Oil for Compassion: -
The Neroli essential oil is steam-distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree. Its aroma is a delightful combination of citrus, sweet, floral, and just slightly bitter. Believed to be the oil of shared purpose and partnership, Neroli helps heal the heart during relationship conflict. It’s especially effective during energetic shifts in long-term partnerships—romantic and otherwise. As relationships evolve, Neroli evokes feelings of patience, empathy, forgiveness, and acceptance of a chosen partner.
Neroli essential oil supports a healthy cardiovascular system. So, apply regularly and give your heart a little extra love in February, Heart Awareness Month!
Feeling disconnected from the divine feminine? Look no further than the sweet scent of Magnolia, the oil of compassion! Magnolia creates sacred space within the heart, enabling us to connect with our higher selves as it reminds us we are all united by human experience. The intoxicating aroma of Magnolia awakens the senses. It connects us to the warmth of maternal nurturing as it supports deep, spiritual healing of the heart and soul. It also helps us recognize the common thread of divinity that connects us all.
Breathing, Body Scan, Sensory and Deep meditation