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Trying One Week Of Being Compassionate – Will It Make Me Happier?

Be Compassionate

To be compassionate towards others means to understand and empathize with them, and while that initially seems as though it is going to make them happy, it is also well-known that you should have compassion towards others in order to be happy. Some of my most memorable and happy moments are during times that I was being compassionate towards someone else.

Personal Experience With Compassion

I do consider myself a compassionate person – usually.

I identify with other people and where they are coming from in life, and I find that it helps me see why they are where they are or why they are doing what they are doing. However, that mostly only happens if they are strangers to me.

If someone is directly in my life, then it is much harder for me to be compassionate towards them because I am so focused on how ‘I’ feel about the situation, due to the relationship we have and my emotions involved.

That is just the brutally honest truth for me. It is much easier to allow others to be right or not judge them when you don’t have any emotion invested in them.

For instance, my mother-in-law has always treated me as a second-class citizen, despite my efforts to be kind and loving to her. I’m extremely unhappy when I’m around her now. (In fact, I haven’t seen her in over 6 months because of this.)  I know that her mentality about life is very negative, and I try to be compassionate towards her and her never-ending sense of doom, but it is hard because she is so mean to me!

So, that’s what this week is about. Can I experience true compassion towards others, even with the meanest of the mean? Will that make me be happier with them, the world, and myself if I am compassionate towards them?

The Dalai Lama On Compassion

Here is what I got from the video in point form:

  • We want peace in the world. In order to make this century different from the last, we have to figure out how to be peaceful with each other.
  • Violence is born out of hatred, anger, and fear.
  • Peace comes from our emotions – when we are not hateful, angry, or fearful.
  • In order to create a peaceful world, we have to deal with our emotions.
  • A calm mind brings a warm/calm heart.
  • When we have compassion towards others rights and well-being, we can calm our mind.
  • Even when there is peace, conflicts can arise. This should be solved through dialogue (understanding the other person’s point of view etc.)
  • Education about moral principles will bring a calmer mind.
  • My interest depends on your interest. Whether you like it or not, you have to share with others and understand them to be happy in life.

Basically, according to the Dalai Lama (who I admire very much), compassion can help not only us to be happy, but create a better, happier world in the process.

Sign me up!

Be Compassionate: The Rule For The Next Week

For the next week, my focus will be on how to be compassionate (even with my mother-in-law) and how it actually influences our ability to be happy.

Feel free to leave me comments below about your feelings towards compassion, and how you have found it to play a role in your happiness.

Day 1: Compassionate To My Husband, Family, And Dogs

The first day was spent in my house because it was a holiday here in Canada (Family Day). So I decided to try it out on the people closest to me.

My Husband

Now, my husband and I have a great relationship, and I am very aware of when I am playing games with him or being egotistic. But that doesn’t always cause me to look at his side of things; instead, the awareness helps me to remember that I should be nicer or more thoughtful towards him, but not so much compassionate.

So, I took the time to really listen to my husband and understand where he was coming from for the day, and I was surprised at how much it changed my view of him.

For example, we went out to Tim Horton’s for some coffee. Usually, I get impatient as I wait for him to finish getting ready to go (he takes a long time to get out of the house) and that impatience causes me to become angry and annoyed. However, instead of thinking “Why does he always take so long to get out the door?” I was able to really watch him and learn that he needs to ensure certain things are done before he can leave. In addition, I realized that unlike me who does three things at once, he does one thing at a time, and he does it well.

The ability to see why he does what he does allowed me to have more patience with him as he made his way to the door to leave. And that allowed me to avoid those ugly negative feelings of anger and annoyance. Instead, I just waited for him completely understanding that he needed to do some things before he was ready, even though I was already ready. (It’s not all about me you know – sheesh.)

My Dogs

be compassionateI own three dogs, a Miniature Pinscher who is 9, a Doberman/Rottweiler who is 15, and a Miniature Schnauzer who is 3.

I find that my patience with the Doberman is wearing thin, and I am focusing a lot on the ‘I’ of the whole situation.

For instance:

  • I hate waking up to her barking in the middle of the night.
  • I hate coming home to pee filled blankets.
  • I hate that she won’t pee on a walk when I take her!

As you can see, it is painfully obvious that it is all about me.

Having compassion allowed me to see that she probably barks in the middle of the night because she is bored. Even though we tried bringing her up to our room, and she didn’t like it, she is likely still not happy being by herself downstairs in the dark (with a nightlight) and nothing to do.

It also allowed me to really admit that incontinence is not her fault. God forbid I get incontinence.

I have no idea why she won’t go pee on her walks, but I can be compassionate towards her reasoning for it because there must be some reasoning behind it that seems logical to her. Unfortunately, she can’t tell me.

The compassionate outlook on her allows me to remove my negative feelings and just deal with ‘what is’. It frees up my mind from wondering ‘why’ she does what she does and how to stop it and instead allows me to think about other, more positive things which causes me to be happy instead of grumpy. I can get used to that!

My Family

I have no brothers and sisters, but my parents are still together and alive. My dad has been a sore spot in my life for years. I love him to death, but he is so set in his ways (and grumpy about life) that I can’t relate to him well anymore.

I try to get him to do things with me and he always refuses. This has been going on for over 10 years, and I have spent many nights crying over it. Yet, I still keep trying to have a relationship with him that I remember having when we were younger and keep getting disappointed when I hear the word ‘no’.

About a month ago my mom suggested that he come over to my house during the week (I work from home) so that we could play crib. I was delighted that she had suggested it because that is something I would love, and he seemed enthusiastic about it. So for three weeks, I kept the house in tip-top shape hoping that ‘today’ would be the day my dad came over. Of course, he never did. Just writing this makes me sad, but compassion does alleviate some of that sadness.

  • I can be compassionate to the fact that he likes to be home and enjoys the routine he has.
  • I can be compassionate to the fact that he doesn’t like to drive far. (I live 40 km away from him)
  • I can be compassionate that he is sick (he has Lupus) and he may not feel like doing things a lot of the time.

I can be compassionate to those things, and it does help me to understand where he is coming from and stop thinking only about my need to have a relationship with him. So yes, compassion does help me to be a little bit happier regarding my dad (not so sad anyway) but it doesn’t fully take away the pain of that situation.

In the end, Day 1 of trying to be compassionate was a success. I find that a lot of common problems that I have around the house with the people dearest to me can be alleviated by being compassionate, and that helps me to be happier without a doubt.

Day 2 – Be Compassionate At The Library

libraryMany people go to work or the office during the day. I work from home, so I either stay in my home office, go to a coffee shop, or go to the library during the day.

The library is awesome because it contains a wealth of information and free Internet. It’s kind of hard to beat when you work online.

However, the library is not the place it used to be: a quiet place to study and relax. Now, thanks to technology, it is a place where people play games, watch movies, Skype, and do online training. In addition, because it is free (and they offer free coffee), older people, people without daytime jobs, and teenagers gather to socialize there.

In short, it is noisy at the library.

They have a ‘quiet area’ where one of the loudest regulars sit. It is impossible to work or study without her chatting you up about the latest negative thing to happen in the world.

Therefore, for me, the library can be a place of great frustration that leaks into the rest of my day.

Since I have no choice but to use that library, as it is the only library in the town, I need to find a way to be happy at the library no matter who is there or what is happening.

My Experience With Practicing Compassion At The Library

I walked into the library with the intent to practice compassion, and it was interesting because the intent to be compassionate actually made me happier about the library instantly! I didn’t even need to run into anyone.

Once inside I looked at the people compassionately instead of judging them by how much noise they were making.

For instance:

  • I was compassionate to the fact that the loud woman who will talk about anything doesn’t have anywhere else to go. She likely looks on the negative side of life and has a victim mentality, and I know that a life focused on the negative cannot be a happy and fun life. This is what she has, and who was I to tell her that she shouldn’t be there?
  • Instead of being upset with mothers who let their children run around and scream, I was compassionate to the fact that they also may just want to get out of the house (like me) and this was a free way to do it.
  • I also was able to see that many people cannot afford the Internet and the library is a great place to go and connect the world without having to pay a monthly fee. (You do have to pay a yearly fee of around $15 dollars.)

Interestingly, I found that once I was compassionate instead of judgmental about other people in the library, I was able to focus on my own work instead of focusing on them! In addition, the noise did not seem as bad as normal.

I often wonder if my thoughts and expectations are the reason that the library is so noisy, and yesterday kind of proved that they may actually be one of the reasons.

In the end, my ability to be compassionate definitely helped me to be happy at the library.

Day 3 – Others Viewpoints On How Being Compassionate Aligns With Happiness

I went out to a few forums, asked the question “Has having compassion helped you to be happier?”, and got some answers that I wanted to share today.

have compassion

I agree with the fact that it is great to make others happy and wish for their happiness. I would much rather affect others in a positive manner than a negative manner.

I also agree that I tend to think of myself as someone who stands out from the crowd and be someone different than the rude and inconsiderate people. However, I often think that is an egotistic point of view from me. I wonder how people like Oprah feel about their moral status compared to other people. Do they think that they are better or just simply accept the differences?

I hav
be compassionate

Really? I don’t agree with this at all. I think that there would be people stepping on other people to satisfy their own needs, wants, and desires; I think that people would not lend a helping hand, which is often necessary to get anywhere in life; And I think that a lot of arguments and fights would break out if no one else cared about anyone else. I would hate to be in the person’s life.

be compassionate 2

 

This, to me, is a great example of how being compassionate can make you happier. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have not thought before I spoke and regretted it later (which of course made me and probably them unhappy.)

These past few days have allowed me to look at someone with understanding before getting annoyed, upset, or angry. I can guarantee that this has not only stopped me from saying stupid things, but also from giving ‘looks’ that convey what I want to say. I have never been able to hide my facial expressions because they are a big part of who I am – so yes, compassion has also helped me to control how I react to others.

I’m sad to think that there are people out there who think like the second guy, but that’s why this post is about…it is to show how and why doing certain things can ultimately make you (and other people) happier.

Day 4 – Be Compassionate With People At Work

Right now, I work from home, which means my coworkers are online. However, I have worked in a lot of places where there was backstabbing, lying, and pure meanies…for lack of a better word.

Right now, my husband works with a bunch of people who pass on the blame. Even though he is the go-to guy for all their answers, and they have no idea what they are doing – he still gets blamed when they mess up.

My issues at work are with:

  • Cheap people who want articles that are worth a lot.
  • People leaving shitty comments for a link or to be noticed – every time they leave a comment!
  • People copying my ideas for articles.
  • People who think they know best and that their opinion is the only opinion.

So, I tried to be compassionate towards them and…it didn’t help much.

I realize that we all are here for three reasons.

  1. To share knowledge that we have acquired.
  2. To help other people.
  3. To make money.

However, there are morals and ethics that I live by online, and I can’t be compassionate for greedy people.

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.
Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”
― Brian Tracy

I like to think that karma is going to get the people who have no ethics online, but in the meantime, they get away with what they do and make money for doing it.

I don’t think that being compassionate is my answer to being happy at work. I do think that knowing I am not like them gives me a little bit of happiness; however, it doesn’t change my view about them.

Day 5 – Be Compassionate To My Body

Friday was all about my body. I woke up fine, but in the early afternoon, I had pain in my stomach. This was nothing new because I have been having pain for about a month.

I thought my pain was because caused by one of two things.

  1. Something I was eating or drinking.
  2. Stress.

I have been eliminating foods from my diet to see if it really is something I have been eating; however, that has not been helping.

I strongly believe in the mind-body connection, and I knew that stress may have been a factor. In fact, I was telling my husband that I was having a hard time concentrating on what I wanted to do – where to put my focus, and that was really making my days unproductive. (Be Happy Tips is one place that I don’t have to stress about…it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while.)

In any case, my husband was doing reflexology on my foot, and he did an area that he doesn’t normally do – my solar plexus. It hurt like hell!

When I checked out the solar plexus online, I found what I was looking for. The solar plexus chakra out of balance displays the exact same symptoms that I was having. Lack of focus and pains just below the navel. YES!

Now, I am learning how to heal my solar plexus chakra, and I’m excited!

I won’t go into what I’m learning here, because I think I will use the chakra and mind-body connection for separate future ‘be happy tips’.

But, my point is that being compassionate (concerned towards my body) has allowed me to figure out what the issue is.

I know that it is the issue because as soon as I figured out what it was I felt better.

And, as soon as I felt better and started working towards fixing my body, I was happy. I was happy because I knew what was happening with my body and had a plan to start fixing it.

So, be compassionate towards your body! Your body always gives you the signals you need to know what is happening, it is your job to pay attention to those signals and try to figure out what is wrong.

Day 6 – Be Compassionate Towards My Mother-In-Law

I was dreading this day, but I knew I had to do it. I had to try and really be compassionate with her or else I was not ever going to be happy with my husband’s family.

Let me just say this: I have tried everything I can to get my mother-in-law to like me. However, there has been nothing that has won her affection.

After 8 years of trying to get her to like me, I have given up.

I had been so upset every time that I came over that I stopped coming over completely.

I haven’t even come over for the holidays.

I just gave up and stopped trying to have a relationship with her.

But, I missed spending that ‘family time’ with my husband. This is his family, and even though they are not fond of me, it doesn’t mean that I still don’t want to spend time with him.

So today, I decided to try my ‘be compassionate’ experiment out with my mother-in-law and see if that was going to help me find the trip to her house bearable. (Normally it feels as though I’m being led to my death.)

On the way there, my husband and I talked as if I had never met her before.

“So what is your mother like?” I said.

“Well, she is stuck in her ways,” he replied. “And she doesn’t really communicate well with people who speak English.”

“Oh,” I said. “So she probably won’t want to talk to me that much if she has a hard time talking to me.”

“That’s probably true,” he said.

We went on like this for a while, and I found it a good way to feel compassionate about who she is and what I was getting into. It allowed me to let go of my previous experiences with her (which is what causes my tension in the first place) and just get ready to meet his mother.

When we got to her house, I was surprised that I was able to accept that she was ‘stuck in her ways’ and ‘not one to communicate with people who didn’t speak Italian’.

It worked!

I wasn’t upset, angry, or annoyed with her. Instead, I just took her for what she was and went with the flow. I have thought about being compassionate with her, but without actually intending to do it for my happiness, it had never worked. I think it was the thought of me wanting to be happy that really allowed me to experience what being compassionate towards her was like.

So if you have a mother-in-law that hates you, or possibly someone else who never treats you well, and you have to see them for the remainder of their life, then try to be compassionate about where they are coming from; it just may help you to avoid getting angry, annoyed, or upset.

Day 7 – Be Compassionate With Myself

A couple days ago, I was compassionate with my body. I learned that I have some health things going on that I have put off and I need to take care of them.

Today, I decided to be compassionate with myself.

We went to my parent’s house, and I had been holding back some information from them for fear that they would be disappointed in me or make me feel bad. I had written a fiction book that I was very proud of but didn’t want to tell them because I didn’t want them to tell me it was stupid or give me a look of pity.

I guess I based my expectations of their reactions around past experiences.

But today I realized that by holding that information back from them, I was telling myself in some small way that I was not good enough.

How can I expect to feel good about myself if I’m not willing to share the great things about myself that I am proud of? So, with red cheeks and a nervous stutter, I told my mom about my books that I have written and how I would really like to take some education in fiction writing.

She didn’t say too much. She didn’t want to know the name of my book. However, she didn’t give me a look of pity or make me feel bad…she just nodded and listened.

Now, I feel better about myself, and from this moment forward, I am going to be kind to myself and allow myself to spread my triumphs and joys without fear of what other people think. It feels good to say, “I did it!”

My Verdict On This Happy Tip Of Being Compassionate

If you read through the whole week, then you will know that my verdict is positive. My only negative experience was with my coworkers…compassion doesn’t allow me to feel good about them. However, even though I still don’t understand why my coworkers can be so manipulative and out for themselves, I do understand that they are the way they are and I cannot do anything about it.

I think that you can experience some level of compassion towards others, no matter how mean or negative they are towards you. You just have to make the choice to be compassionate, and you will be.

I think that if we can be compassionate towards others, the world, and ourselves, we can definitely be happier with everyone around us.

It is not only I who think this; some of the greatest leaders surrounding peace and love always promote compassion as a way to happiness.

If you want to be happier in life, then be more compassionate.

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2 thoughts on “Trying One Week Of Being Compassionate – Will It Make Me Happier?”

  1. Hi Kari,

    I was reading this post with great interest. When I have time I read a lot self help, healing and other books that deal with subject of really helping yourself to be happy and fulfilled.

    As I read the part about your mother-in-law I was going to suggest that you accept her for who she is as she has her own demons to deal with. In the end you accepted it. Perhaps she does not speak English as well as you do and perhaps she herself is self conscious and does not feel comfortable around you and she may herself feel you do not even like her.

    I found that in life we must be ourselves and when we give love we should not expect anything in return. That is the same with your father. Accept him for who he is, love him and don’t expect anything back. He most likely loves you deeply, he is just the sort that cannot share it.

    I am wishing you all the love and happiness in your life,

    Dita

    1. Wow Dita, thanks for the great advice. And thanks for the wishes – love that. Yes, I am coming to learn/accept that not expecting anything in return, while still giving the best of yourself, is a huge part of happiness.

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