The headlines are grim. The nation is more bitterly divided than in living memory, the rhetoric more heated and political. Hardly a week goes by without news of violence: murders, shootings, protests, threats, or other equally dark news. It's easy to react with bitterness or anger. It's easy to lash out at the other side or some group you deem responsible for the latest tragedy.
Of course, it can be hard to show compassion in the face of events like these. So how does one go about doing that? It takes more effort than simply being willing to "walk a mile in the other person's shoes." It takes a genuine effort to understand where others are coming from and what's driving their thinking, feelings, and actions, which can have devastating consequences.
One thing is clear. This is not about turning the other cheek or simply accepting abuses that get heaped on you or as a nation. It's about being brave enough to restrain anger and respond with compassion rather than with rage, even in the face of those things.
What specific things can you do to ease that person's suffering? Sometimes, that can be as simple as being willing to lend a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on. At other times, something more may be appropriate. The first, best thing you can do, though, is to keep your anger in check and focus on soothing the hurt when, where, and as you are able.
Anyone can lash out in anger. It takes a real man or woman to look past the raw emotions and dive headlong into the process of working diligently to make things better. To ease the pain that someone's carelessness or cold calculation has caused.
Ask if you can do anything to address the root of the problem. If there isn't, then there's nothing to be gained by venting. Simply continuing to be willing to listen and lend support will be much more constructive.
Try to understand how and why the person who caused the hurt behaves in the way they did.
That's easier to do if you know the person involved and can speak with them to get their side of the story. Even if you ultimately disagree with the reasons, it's essential to understand what they are.
How else can you respond from a place of compassion?
That's the key. Think about it from your perspective. When you do something that hurts another person (whether intentionally or not), do you respond well to attacks made in anger? Most people don't.
It may well be that when learning the full details, there's not much you can do. That happens. The main thing is that you've made a genuine attempt to understand. And, you restrained your anger.
You can use this basic approach. When your friends, neighbors, and coworkers express anger, pain, or dismay over the grim headlines. You can mirror them. Or, you can embrace the negativity you see.
You can choose to respond with compassion.
The real value in reacting this way is that, by degrees, shifting to this mindset will begin to affect positive change in the world around you. Others will see and recognize what you're doing and respond to it in kind.
If you want to live in a more positive, compassionate world, that starts with you. How you choose to react. Interact. And respond to the world around you.
Simple but powerful words as said by Dalai Lama: - "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."