Why being compassionate is often a hard choice #1000speak

#1000speak campaign

Today more than 1,000 bloggers are writing about what compassion means to them in an effort to flood the interwebs with kindness for a day. I’m proud to be one of that thousand.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

That right there is my favorite quote (attributed to both Plato and Ian MacLaren, but likely uttered by many others). It’s a phrase that I try to live by. Sometimes I fail at it. But I’d like to think that more often than not, I succeed.

It takes effort, for sure. It’s easier to make assumptions about people based on something they say, how they look, or what they’ve done. But unless I have real reasons to think someone is toxic and therefore a person I need to stay away from, I try to assume the best about people. Essentially, I try to be a compassionate person.

I try.

I challenge myself not to assume that the mom in expensive clothes with the perfect figure and hair and makeup, and who drove her kids to soccer in an expensive car, is a snobby jerk. I smile at her and make conversation. I don’t know what her battles are. And I’m sure she has them.

I don’t let myself assume that the kid at the park who has been difficult the entire time and causing a general ruckus is just a brat. Who knows what his battles are, and maybe his mom just needed a freaking break for an hour. I smile at his mom and try to make it evident I’m open to talking if she wants to.

I remind myself that my kids have their own battles going on in their heads, and try not to assume that they’re just being difficult because they want to push my buttons. I try to remember to not get mad right away. To ask questions. To dig deeper about what the bad attitude after a school day is all about.

I try.

And it’s hard. Because being compassionate is a choice. It’s not innate for most of us. It’s easier to judge and move on. But when I judge and move on, not only am I likely doing a disservice to the one I am judging, I’m doing a disservice to myself.

Assuming the worst about people puts me in a bad mood and makes me feel crummy. But when I assume the best and look at the world through compassionate eyes, life is a lot more pleasant.

I’d rather assume the person driving like a maniac on the highway and cutting people off has some real battles that he’s fighting. He isn’t driving like a jerk to be jerky to me — he’s likely driving like that because he has some big issues. Thinking that guy has some big battles he’s fighting makes it easier to let my frustration go and move on. Maybe that’s naive? I don’t know. But if it is, I’m okay with that. What’s the harm in making a kind assumption about someone I’ll never see again?

I know I have my own battles. And dealing with depression and anxiety can definitely cause some bad days. I think dealing with mental health stuff helps me to be more compassionate towards others. I know how hard things can be for me. So I try to think of others as I hope they’ll think of me on my bad days: Not as a horrible mother who just yelled at her whining kid in Target. Just as a mom who is having a tough time at that moment. And then maybe not only think kind thoughts about that harried mom, but smile some encouragement at her, too, because that’s the kind thing to do.

If we all thought the best of each other, wouldn’t life be so much better — for all of us?

Thank you to the founders of #1000speak, Yvonne Spence and Lizzi Rogers, for coming up with this fantastic idea.

1000speak campaign

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12 Replies to “Why being compassionate is often a hard choice #1000speak”

  1. I get what you mean about using compassion almost as a shield, to protect ourselves from the ravages of anger and stress and irritation, which could so easily take over if we allowed the negativity about events happening around us to take over.

    Great post for #1000Speak – very thought provoking.

  2. This is all so true. I always take that approach with my kids, when they share about a kid at school/park wherever who is being unruly, or mean. We must look beyond the behavior and find the heart. It’s almost always hurting. Compassion looks that deeply. We must try to always take that perspective as much as we can.

    I love that quote so so much.

  3. Oh how I appreciate your words here. I, too, strive to live a life of compassion, even if I fall short on occasion. I think having been through tough times myself, as a woman, as a professional, and now as a wife and mother, honestly helps me to not only have, but also live compassion towards others. 🙂

  4. I definitely feel like my anxiety, which is new to me for just the last year and a half, has helped me to be more compassionate. I now realize how much crap other people are hiding, because I know hard I try, even when I'm having a bad day. Good post.

  5. I love the thought of assuming "the guy driving like a jerk must be just fighting a big battle" and that's why he is acting like that! Idiot drivers can really drive me batty but I know if I stop and think "hey maybe he is just having a bad day and really needs to get somewhere" then I can easily let it go instead of letting their bad driving bother me! This gives me a new perspective now towards people like this! Thank you for posting this for #1000speak! I also contributed a post for this movement on my blog as well! Glad I found your post about compassion!

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