One of the biggest problems with the current tone of interaction, especially online, is the absence of room for acceptance of another’s opinion. A lack of acceptance of others’ opinions as valid is a major barrier to compassion in general, and the two are mutually exclusive. Debating opposing opinions is a healthy pursuit, and can even be enjoyable, when done with a non-combatant approach.
Wherever people live together, there will always be differing opinions; and the ability to navigate those opinions is paramount to being a healthy, contributing member of society.
2. Listen to Others
We have many distractions vying for our attention every second of our lives. When is the last time you had a 15 minute conversation with someone and neither one of you even looked at your phone? It’s harder every year to focus and listen attentively, no matter what the source.
Being compassionate means truly listening to others. Make solid eye contact with them, pay attention, and give real feedback during the conversation to show that you are actively listening, and not just passively hearing what they say. We must listen to people in order to exhibit true compassion.
3. Practice Empathy
There is a real difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is merely an understanding of someone else’s circumstance. Empathy means you make a real attempt at trading places with them in order to see things from their perspective.
Empathy is hard, and can be very draining, but it is an important component of compassion. We can’t empathize with someone until we can truly put ourselves in their shoes.
Most of us have the potential of making more money in our life than we currently do, but we cannot ever make more time. Therefore, our time is more valuable to us than our money, and nothing says we care more than giving of our time to something or someone. We can talk about a situation all day long, but when we actually do something is the point where change really happens. And when we volunteer for a greater cause, we make a strong statement about its importance, because we gave of the one currency that can’t be refilled - our time. No matter what financial bracket we find ourselves in, we can always make a difference by a donation of our time and effort.
5. Show Acceptance
We don’t have to agree with someone to demonstrate that we accept them; in fact, being accepting in spite of disagreeing with someone is a great way of showing that we actually care about that person. When you demonstrate acceptance in the face of a disagreement, you show ultimate respect for that person and their dignity as a person.
One of the most valuable things about the world we live in is the diversity of its population. If everyone was exactly the same in all aspects - including opinions - how would that be better? Answer: it wouldn’t! It is our diversity that makes us beautiful as individuals, therefore we should be accepting of those differences.
6. Be Kind
Kindness is one of humanity’s most valuable and overlooked assets. There is never a reason to be unkind, and any act of kindness makes the world better for all parties involved. If we want to find and exercise compassion for others, one of the best starting points is kindness. Being kind is something we can all do - and we all should. It costs us nothing, but gains everything.
7. Practice Gratitude
Take a few moments as the day begins and appreciate life and everything it has to offer. Exercising gratitude is the perfect launchpad to living a life of compassion for others. When we realize that what we have and who we are is all the result of someone else’s involvement in our lives, we can truly share compassion for other people.
If we simply reflect on these 7 simple tenets each day, we, like Tim Tebow, might find ourselves more easily showing compassion for others in our lives, thereby improving our own life and those around us.