“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” – Unknown
As I grow personally and professionally, so does my capacity to show compassion to others. Recently, I’ve started to attend social events centered around storytelling. I find these events captivating because they are a genuine way to connect with people at a deeper level than at a typical networking event. The stories vary in their narratives. Some are about careers, traveling, adventure, sports, etc. And then there are stories full of heartache, crises, and trauma. When I’ve listened to stories filled with pain and grief, I somehow am better able to understand why a person behaves a certain way, or holds a particular belief. These stories have helped me to gain an awareness of a time in their lives that caused a broken heart, yet, somehow, they were able to go deep into their souls to share an episode with strangers.
I have always felt that I am a person full of compassion and empathy. However, these intimate storytelling events help me to realize even more now than I ever did before, that we have no idea what emotional tragedy people have suffered in their lives. People who seemingly have it all together could harbor sorrow that we know nothing about. For these and similar reasons, I try to live life with an open and kind heart. By doing so, I hope this makes me aware of when a person simply needs someone to listen to them because they’re struggling with something; not necessarily for advice, but just to know that someone does care. If we don’t extend compassion and empathy to those who need it, we could lose an opportunity to offer some form of healing by just showing kindness.
One simple and effective approach that you can easily implement in practicing compassion and kindness is to compliment a complete stranger on the bus, or in your local coffee shop, for something they’re wearing. Not only will you likely receive a smile in return, but you’ll likely feel good, too.