Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Compassion

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Compassion

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Japan

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama

Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Compassion is the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering, which motivates us to relieve that suffering and gives us the desire to help.

Compassion and empathy are fundamental aspects of quality relationships and enable kind and loving behavior. Showing compassion for others makes us feel better about ourselves, but self-compassion also serves an important function for well-being. Compassion is vital to life. Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

The idea of compassion in everyday life encourages positive behaviors that have individual and societal benefits as it promotes resilience, social connectedness. In Asia, Buddhist philosophy applies mindful action toward the reduction of suffering while building a relationship of trust and goodwill. The objective of Buddhism is to enhance a person's wisdom, kindness, compassion, and achieve unconditional happiness and enlightenment.

For medical professionals, teachers, EMT responders, and social workers, compassion is an important key to their work. Role modeling compassion can reduce hateful behavior while encouraging kindness, love, and understanding. And compassionate people in mass lead to a more peaceful and democratic society.

To become compassionate, don’t be selfish. Expand your comfort zone: Help people, be kind to animals, be involved with the community. Kind behaviors improve your self-esteem and well-being. Avoid judgment. Compare your similarities to others in hardship. This can help you develop empathy and compassion. Practice gratitude. In your life, what are you grateful for? This will give you a sense of compassion for people facing hardships. Be kind to yourself. Don’t say bad things about yourself. Sweeten up, people make mistakes: We are all “C” students in the school of life. Being negative all the time does not help you, your family, friends, and co-workers. Practice becoming resilient. Bounce back from an unpleasant event. Practice tolerance. This helps you to become a more positive and compassionate human.

Compassionate parenting is a basic part of positive parenting. Provide a positive home environment with plenty of love, practice open communication, provide affection, and emotional warmth. Empathize with your child’s feelings. Teach respect. Role model kind and compassionate behavior toward people and animals. Practice positive discipline with patience, caring, and fairness; not violence.

When under stress, do not create more stress. Put a layer of understanding on top of your gut feelings. This is tough when you’re upset and on the verge of losing control. When this happens: Breathe. Repeat taking deep breaths. Calm yourself and detach yourself from emotions. Try saying something like: “I’m sorry for the suffering I caused you”; “I apologize for my actions”; I feel sad to hear that you experienced this”; “What can I do to help? How can I make things better?”; “Thank you for telling me this”; “I am proud of you. I am here for you, no matter what”; “What has this been like for you?”

Listening to others is an important part of compassion. Listening will help you to help others, and you will eventually become a skilled empathetic listener. Empathy allows people to build social connections with each other. By understanding what people are thinking and feeling, people are able to respond appropriately in social situations. According to spiritual author Martin Lowenthal, “Compassion is a foundation for sharing our aliveness and building a more humane world.” 

Compassion is contagious. Smile more. A smile can have a large impact on people. Hold the door open for someone. Use encouraging words when speaking with people. Lift their spirits. Encourage people with your positivity. Try and perform one or two acts of kindness every day. Help somebody with a task. Set up an hour or two each day from your busy schedule to bond with friends, spouse, and your children. Delay all the “Have To” chores. Show people you care, give positive words, not negative ones. Practice an attitude of gratitude, every day. Say thank you more often to people, just for small things. Having good manners goes a long way, people feel appreciated. Don’t let gratitude go unspoken.

“A great nation is a compassionate nation.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at www.hilaryvaldez.com or at InstantInsights@hotmail.com.

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