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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Cultivating Compassion

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In my line of work, I practice compassion very often for the clients that I help to overcome often debilitating injuries that include both the physical and emotional. Sometimes it seems that our society doesn't practice a lot of compassion–we are quick to judge another without really looking at ourselves. While browsing the Internet, I came across an article that caught my eye about the health benefits of compassion and thought about how there are many benefits to practicing this type of behavior. In fact, research shows that having compassion for others results in lesser anxiety, depression and stress. Regardless, it is still difficult to practice compassion, but there are ways for you to get better at it.

  1. Meditate on compassion. There are several types of compassionate meditation. One way is to focus on phrases that you can repeat to yourself silently such as "May I be peaceful and happy" or "May suffering and pain be relieved from me". Once you have these things for yourself, you can then turn them outwards toward others (especially those people who really get on your nerves or that you may judge harshly).
  2. Contemplate your mortality. Ironically, focusing on death can make you more aware of your life and also make you a more helpful person while in the here and now. In one study, researchers at University of Missouri-Columbia watched people who were either walking in or passing by a cemetery. These people were 40% more likely to help people near the cemetery compared to those out of eyesight of the cemetery.
  3. It is easier for someone to have compassion for another person if they have something in common with them. Try thinking of others in terms of the commonalities that you share, rather than finding the reasons to distinguish yourself from them.

Compassion is important beyond the health benefits. It can also create better interpersonal relationships for you and make society better as a whole.