A common definition of compassion is having a desire to help someone who is suffering, which includes pain, distress, and hardship. We all experience suffering at some point in our lives. When people are hurting on the inside, we may see it in their behavior. When we encounter an “unloving” or “unkind” person, our natural impulse may be to respond in kind. But if we see them as someone who is suffering in some way and we feel moved by their pain, a natural desire to help emerges. Choose to extend them compassion and love instead of adding to their suffering. The people who act the most unloving may be the ones who most need to receive love.
Transforming our relationships begins with us. Through compassion, we are practicing presence, acceptance and forgiveness and we leave people feeling noticed, accepted, and embraced. This is where the miracle occurs. As we extend compassion to others, we may notice a shift within ourselves; we may feel more connected, more loving, and more joyful. Another miracle occurs. Our offerings of grace, love, and kindness may be mighty or they may be small. But even the smallest offerings can have a big impact on the people in our lives, and we may never know how our small acts of caring changes the trajectory of someone’s day.
What small offering can you make today to help another feel loved?
Usually when we think of abundance, we think of it in terms of having more than enough money or wealth, a bigger house, or a better car. Or perhaps we think of it in terms of having plenty of time to get everything done each day.
What if we broaden the definition of abundance beyond financial or material matters? What if we used the term to describe how much love, peace and joy we experience?
When we are running low on love, peace, and joy, we sense an inner lack or emptiness and we attempt to fill it from outside.
So we put limits on our love, because we are afraid if we share it, we are giving it up. We tell ourselves that there isn't enough to go around so we guard it carefully. We only extend it if we are going to get it back, or if we have already received it from another.
When instead we experience an abundance of love, we see that it is limitless and we realize we can share it freely - there is more than enough to go around.
We don't allow ourselves to be happy, because we think we don't deserve it. And if we don't deserve it, we surely don't have the capacity to offer it up to ourselves. We aren't really sure what even has the capacity to make us happy, so when we go searching for it outside, our quests leave us unfulfilled.
When instead we experience an abundance of joy, right now, we see that in fact we do deserve to be happy and that true happiness comes from within. We stop seeking approval or validation from others - not because we don't care what they think, but because we know ourselves well enough to know what we need. We trust ourselves enough to follow our own heart.
We long for peace, but through our daily actions, we choose sadness, anger, and fear instead. We make up stories about why people do the things they do to us (That driver cut me off on purpose! My doctor is always making me wait for my appointments. My child never listens - she really knows how to push my buttons!). We don't stop to consider the alternatives (The driver didn't see me there because I was in his blind spot. My doctor is very thorough and always wants to make sure he answers all of his patients' questions. I'm not listening to my daughter and what she really needs).
When we instead experience an abundance of peace, we choose it now and always; we don't let petty annoyances or frustrations ruin our day. We stay open to possibilities about why things are unfolding as they are. We stop seeing the other as the enemy who is out to get us. We pause, we breathe, and we inquire so we can better understand and see the real truth of the situation.
There are no limits to how much love, peace, and joy we can feel any given day. That which we long for is in abundant supply within us, right now and always.
This has been my journey. To stop searching for love, peace, and joy outside of myself. To see that they are already here, right now. I'm not perfect. It's not always easy. Emotional reactions happen quickly and I've got 40-some years worth of unlearning to do. But I'm tired of holding myself back. So I'm allowing small miracles to happen every day. Each time I choose love over fear, joy over misery, and peace over stress, anxiety or anger, I get one step closer to living a truly abundant life.