Well, it can be difficult to have compassion in this time of madness.
In fact, how else should we call what’s happening today? Isn’t it madness when a person decides to strap explosive around his body, letting himself blow up at the end of a pop concert killing and injuring teenagers, like it happened at the end of Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester?
Or, isn’t it madness, when a few men decide to drive a van into crowds of people enjoying their Saturday night, as it just happened in London?
Unfortunately, we have been witnessing lots of madness recently, committed by individuals who are devoid of any compassion.
Before acts of terror and violence, the instinct can be to retrieve in fear, out of a desire to protect ourselves.
We might close down and constrain our movements, and I’m not talking just about our travel plans, but also about the movement of our hearts towards the other; especially our ability to show compassion to those we perceive as being different from us.
The risk of our times is that we fragment further our societies, living more and more segregated and in fear of each other. The risk is that we live in denial of our capacity for compassion.
It would be a horrible world to living in. It’s a world I don’t want to belong to.
The Emerging Future of Compassion
Instead, I want to take part in generating a new world. I want to be part of a future marked by harmony, dialogue, and compassion. I’m sure this is the future that wants to emerge. It’s a future in which compassion is both a shared value and a practice.
In fact, have you noticed?
Every time an event brings to the fore the worst of humanity it also manifests the very best of our humanity.
The acts of compassion and heroism that occur in the aftermath of violence are indeed inspiring; they are the mark of a future built on compassion.
We witnessed it in Portland, where two men (a recent college graduate and an Army veteran) gave their life to defend two women from the slurs of a man filled with hatred. The two brave men couldn’t just be bystanders and decided to intervene.
We witnessed it in London, where, for example, a woman used her body to block the door of a restaurant preventing the terrorists from entering the premises. This was just one of the many acts of heroism reported on the night of the London attacks.
We witnessed it also when Ariana Grande decided to go back to Manchester, less than two weeks after the suicide attack at her concert, and showed her compassion to the families of the victims and to the injured that were still recovering in a hospital.
We witnessed it when more than 50 thousand people gathered for the One Love Manchester concert that Ariana Grande and her friends put together to raise funds for the victims of the terror attack.
Ariana Grande: The Art of Compassion
Ariana Grande said opening the concert last Sunday:
“I think the kind of love and unity you are displaying is the medicine the world needs right now. So thank you for being just that.”
We always have a choice, and that’s a fundamental truth of life.
While we might not only be in control of external events, we do have the power to decide how to respond. And it’s our response that in the end will determine the ultimate outcome of an event.
In the midst of today’s madness, let’s choose compassion, let’s choose love!
It might seem disingenuous, and even ineffective. An act of violence seems to be so much more powerful and effective, than an act of love.
But that’s an illusion.
Because if millions of us choose to increase compassion and do so consciously, we will elevate the levels of love around the world. We will witness the compounding effect of love in action; we’ll see the transformation of our world.
Compassion, in fact, greatly increases our courage, our readiness, and our determination to remedy suffering.
As Martin Luther King once beautifully said:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Thus, we are not affected by what happens to us, though it might throw us out of balance for a moment. Instead, what really affects the outcome of an event, is the meaning we give to what happens to us.
In other words, what matters is our response. And that’s why today, in the midst of the madness, we need to increase our levels of compassion and love.
How to Practice Compassion Every Day
Here are some simple ideas on who you can practice compassion every day. I invite you to follow the Elevated Compassion Process for the next 30 days while noticing how the levels of joy and fulfillment are rising within you and around you:
1) Let compassion be your intention.
When you wake up in the morning, calibrate your internal GPS and decide that you will live your new day oriented towards compassion. Close your eyes, take some deep breath, and imagine yourself going through the day with a compassionate heart. Notice how compassion will shape the quality of your activities and meetings.
2) Cultivate compassion with affirmations.
To keep alive the intention and to strengthen is, repeat to yourself affirmations that will inspire you to increase the levels of love and compassion throughout the day. You can create your own affirmations, or you can use some of these here below: As a member of humanity, I extend compassion to everyone.
- “As a member of humanity, I extend compassion to everyone.”
- “The more I have compassion, the more I have joy.”
- “Compassion is a habit that I nurture every day.”
- “Every day I am becoming more and more compassionate.”
- “Today and every day, I’m the embodiment of compassion.”
3) Make yourself ONE with others.
As you encounter other people throughout the day (members of your family, coworkers, cab drivers, passersby, etc.) be open to their needs, to what they want to do, and join them, in what they are feeling, doing, expressing (as long as it is not harming you or others). If your children want to play, play with them. If your partner wants to go for a walk, go along. If your coworker is laughing, laugh together. Join the others in the experience they have in the now.
At times, you will notice that making yourself “one” with others will require that for a moment you will have to suspend your own ideas, desires, needs, assumptions, activities, etc. in order to be able to join the other. It might feel uncomfortable at the beginning.
Some fear that by caring about others they are possibly losing or sacrificing themselves. I encourage you to try anyway, even if these fears are present in you to a certain degree.
In fact, you will notice how the more you make yourself one with others the more you will be more connected with your authentic Self. You will experience how your happiness will increase. You will also notice how, in response, others will be more sensitive to your needs and desires.
4) Be compassionate with yourself.
As you go through the day, you might become aware of negative feelings. You might experience sadness, solitude, confusion, frustration, disappointment, or any other disempowering feelings.
When this happens, welcome that feeling; it’s a part of you that wants to be acknowledged and recognized.
Then, ask that part of you that is experiencing that feeling, what its true intention is. Is it to protect you? To make you feel more connected with yourself? Or does it want to receive more recognition or love? Honor that true intention, and wonder how you could take care in an empowering way of the positive intention which that emotion is expressing.
5) Evening Ritual.
In the evening, before you go to bed, take a moment to reflect on the day that is closing. Express gratitude for everything that has happened to you during the day. Revisit the moments when you expressed compassion. What outcomes did you create in you and in others as you offered your compassion?
Think also of the moments when you were not able to express compassion as you would have liked to. What prevented you from maintaining a compassionate heart? What’s the lesson? How could you act differently and with more compassion when a similar circumstance presents itself again? Express gratitude for what you have learned also from these moments.
Lastly, take a moment to focus on the following day. How can you increase even more your love and compassion? And make a commitment to wake up the following day with a compassionate heart, ready to love and to welcome with gratitude whatever will come your way.
Let’s not allow the madness that is poisoning our times to affect us. Instead, let’s be affected by and let’s affect our humanity with compassion.