“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

Dalai Lama
Buddhist Religious Leader

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This Week´s Inspiration

The Joy of Compassion

Compassion: to have mercy and/or sympathy for others.

In recent weeks, the world has shown extraordinary assistance to those affected by the Tsunami of December 26, 2004. The immediate and real media coverage captivated our attention. 

Many of us have been moved by the hundreds who stayed—who could have gone home―or those who were compelled to get on an airplane to go help. If you watch the reports closely, you see that in spite of the horrific conditions and sights, those individuals are assisting willingly and passionately. 

What gives them the strength and drive to participate? In a word: compassion! True Living on Purpose contains universal principles that transcend our personal purposes, gifts, and talents. Compassion is one of those principles. 

In a world—certainly the Developed World―that embraces self-centeredness and a “focus on me” culture, this event tapped into the human emotion, not only at the feeling level but at the action-verb level. 

But prior to this event, could you have honestly said you had confidence that members of Human Kind still had this level of compassion for each other?

This message is not about judgment; it is a reflection of our apparent situational compassion. I am the first to admit that my compassion can be situational. I have found, however, that some of the most fulfilling moments in my life happened when I was showing compassion—where, at that moment, my feelings and actions were focused on helping someone else―yet, at the same time, I was fulfilling my own purpose of helping others with their purpose.

Many talk shows, editorials, and articles have looked at why the response to this event has been so great and why we have seen so little compassion for other needy situations―such as the millions in Sudan and in other areas of the world. 

One of the other major reasons seems to be that this was not a man-made event. Apparently with or without intention, our overall compassion is not as intense or active when Man is the direct cause of an unfortunate occurrence―war, starvation due to politics, or simply poor or destructive choices.

The Tsunami victims were innocent individuals in the wrong place at the wrong time and the level of destruction reached Biblical proportions. This vulnerability drew us all into the event―not just intellectually but emotionally. 

What can we learn from this observation? That our compassion should not be situational and mostly based on catastrophic events! Compassion is a state of mind that we either act out or we don’t, on a day-to-day basis. What would it mean if we all just showed more compassion in our daily lives . . . on the street, at the mall with our friends and family, etc.? 

I am not talking about compassion based on obligation, peer pressure, or thoughts that we are doing the right thing. True compassion comes from your heart. It is based on your feelings. Mother Teresa was the personification of compassion, but we all can’t be like her. 

So where locally could you be more compassionate and be able to act out compassion and show it? Helping the homeless or less fortunate? Nationally and internationally, what other areas can capture your compassion? 

Self-absorption with little compassion for others is simply unhealthy. It is easy to feel sorry for yourself until you start thinking of others and how fortunate we really are. Research has proven that the majority of individuals who are down or slightly depressed can overcome (or certainly reduce) this condition when they act to help others. 

Oddly enough, the greatest benefactors from our being and acting compassionate are ourselves. 

I encourage you to embrace compassion where you can be on purpose. Do something that requires you to stretch. Once you have done this, pay attention to the feelings you get after contributing compassionately. 

Compassion is the basis of all morality.

Arthur Schopenhauer
German Philosopher:1788 – 1860

This Week´s Action Steps

The Joy of Compassion

  1. How compassionate a person would you say you are?
  2. Does your compassion (the way you feel) reflect how you think?

  3. What would others say about your levels of compassion? Are their perceptions true? Is that okay?

  4. Do you believe that showing compassion helps the individuals who give as much as the people who receive?

  5. Is your compassion situational, where you have high levels of compassion for some and not for others of equal need? And if so, why is that?

  6. Is your situational compassion (if you have it) hindering your levels of contribution and feelings of personal fulfillment?

  7. Where—locally, national and/or internationally—can you engage a new level of active compassion?

  8. You can only give what you can give. Know that we all have limits and that it is unreasonable to expect unlimited amounts of compassion from any one individual. Be in touch with your limits.

  9. Make sure your compassion is not based on guilt but on your purpose to contribute—and that your true feelings are real and powerful. 

  10. Educate others on the opportunities and personal benefits of being compassionate.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!

Ken Keis

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