How Can You Be More Compassionate?
My wife and I had an interesting experience yesterday.
We landed a house sit in a remote area of New Jersey. Everything seemed OK initially. But we noted clear red flags a few moments into the sit. Eventually, the sit did not work out. We left the house about 12 hours after arriving.
We did our best to embody compassion, grace, kindness and empathy in our dealings with the couple. Goal achieved, 100%. Both people were kind, generous and quite nice. But both people suffered from mental and physical impairments.
Less compassionate people could – and would – have been angry or flat out enraged at some behavior displayed by the couple. But my wife and I spotted the signs early; both people suffered mental and physical maladies. Suffering each malady caused the individuals to make questionable, odd or flat out bizarre decisions. Less compassionate folks deem questionable, odd or bizarre decisions as being:
- lacking compassion
- lacking empathy
- lacking tact
- lacking basic social graces
- lacking consideration
Compassionate people – or those expressing a deeper sense of compassion during specific experiences – understand the fear, pain and suffering any human harbors if said human makes decisions appearing to hurt other human beings.
For example; the lady asked me to drive her to the airport between 4 AM and 5 AM the following day. I gratefully and happily agreed to do so. But after 1 hour's worth of sleep – mainly due to the couple arguing loudly for roughly 5 hours during the night – I woke at 4:30 AM to see car lights flash in the driveway. She drove off. I assumed she gassed up for our trip for she reminded me 4-5 times that I'd need to wake early for, to drive her to the airport.
But by 5:30 AM, we saw no sign of her. Knowing the woman's issues, I asked my wife to text her. The woman responded with:
“I decided to drive myself to the airport. Thank you.”
My wife politely called her and asked if we needed to drive the roommate to the airport. The lady said:
“We had a fight last night. He is not taking the trip.”
I had spoken to the roommate from 4:30 AM to 5:30 AM, often remarking about his trip and how much he'd enjoy it. He'd acted like the trip was still on.
My wife and I felt a bit confused. Most well-adjusted people would wake the house sitters at 4:30 AM to inform them the roommate would be staying and how our services were no longer required. She literally said:
“You are free to stay. Just ignore my roommate.”
The roommate never mentioned he was not taking the trip.
My wife and I politely told her we'd be leaving and wished her the best.
During the entire experience, my wife and I displayed:
- a sense of calm
- a sense of peace
because we knew their bizarre behavior sprouted from some deep fear, pain and suffering. Being compassionate allowed us to take nothing personally; we did not once feel angry, upset, annoyed or enraged at their behavior because we knew fear-pain fueled every one of their choices.
But we made a blanket decision to be compassionate and empathetic on meeting the two folks to prepare ourselves for what could – and did – arise during our interactions.
How can you be more compassionate? Ask yourself how you can be more mindful of suffering humans who appear to be:
- completely void of social graces
- completely void of basic consideration
Every single human being who appears to embody any of these qualities suffers, horribly. Ponder their suffering to respond with poise, grace and peace of mind in any situation.
My wife and I are staying at a hotel for a few days before figuring out where we want to travel next. One woman argued with the front desk worker about her former boyfriend who changed the name for her room in an act of spite. Imagine the stress, sadness and grief of not only breaking up but then having to deal with a vengeful, spiteful person who left the hotel but tries their best to get you evicted, after you paid the bill for the room?
I can see why she was angry. I have compassion for her but also observed how her lack of compassion for the desk worker caused her to project her fear and pain onto this fellow human being, who is kind, polite and has nothing to do with the company's room rental policies.
Kelli and I waited for 20 minutes for our room, smiling and politely engaging the desk worker the whole time. She apologized but I told her to not worry one bit; we were grateful to get a room after the morning's house sitting experience.
She and the other person at the desk totally over-stuffed our utensils-pots-pans-plates supply at this extended stay, going above and beyond for us, no doubt because we were polite, poised, calm and compassionate during our 20 minute wait.
Being compassionate has its benefits.