Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's Your Definition of Compassion?

Here is my definition of compassion:

com·pas·sion (n.) - Genuine sympathy for and desire to help others who are suffering.

I'd like to add that compassion extends not just to those who are suffering in ways that we understand, but also to those who suffer in ways that we do not know. For example, someone can speak harshly towards me with unkind words and insults, which is a wrongful and hurtful action. It can be easy to retaliate with my own harsh words and judgment. But that is when I try to give "the benefit of the doubt." Perhaps that person is suffering in ways that I cannot see and cannot know; maybe her unkind words are a reaction to the pain or sorrow she is experiencing. It is not right for her to take her struggles out on me, but she is human and makes mistakes. When I think about it, I realize that I make similar mistakes, so rather than judge and insult her back, I should offer compassion and understanding. Sometimes a compassionate response is all a person needs to start being more patient and kind herself.
What does compassion mean to you? Share your ideas here.

About Three Good Deeds

Three Good Deeds
Coming Soon... ThreeGoodDeeds.org
Three Good Deeds (www.ThreeGoodDeeds.org)will be  a digital collection of positive values in the form of products, activities, fundraising opportunities, and wisdom meant to promote awareness of three specific good deeds: Caring for the environment, oneself, and others.

Through spreading awareness of universal values, ancient and modern sources, and the wisdom and stories of anonymous individuals, this site intends to inspire people of all ages to make "goodness" their guide. In addition to diving into the growing library of resources, visitors will be encouraged to participate in online discussions to share their perspectives, resources and experiences, which ultimately deepen the levels of understanding and empathy for us all. There will also be also tangible products and fundraising opportunities for those who want to take active steps towards fulfilling the three good deeds. 

A personal note: The idea came to me when my dad was in the hospital and needed around-the-clock care. On nights when I couldn't sleep (which was almost every time I stayed overnight), I spent my time reading words of hope, compassion and loving-kindness from any source I could find: religious, secular, philosophical, spiritual, cultural... I was so moved by the insights I read that I felt responsible to share them. Furthermore, at that difficult time, I became acutely aware that I needed to balance caring for others with caring for myself and the future of this planet. At various points in my life, I've focused more intently on one of these three at the expense of the others when they are all important at all times. This site is meant to inspire me to dedicate myself to the Three Good Deeds, and in the process, I hope it will inspire others as well.