Community//

Why the World Needs More Compassion

At times when the world needs healing, compassion can lead the way.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Theologian and Nobel Laureate Albert Schweitzer wrote, “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” But what is compassion? Why is it so important? Why is it so lacking? What can we do to show more of it?

In the past, I used to think the words ‘sympathy,’ ‘empathy,’ and ‘compassion’ were interchangeable. I recently learned that while the words are related, they are uniquely different. The Chopra Center describes ‘sympathy’ as understanding what someone is going through. It’s that sense of sadness or pain when you hear about someone else’s troubles.  ‘Empathy’ takes sympathy one step further. It is viscerally feeling what another person feels. It is immersing yourself to more fully experience and understand what that other person is going through. ‘Compassion’ takes both sympathy and empathy yet another step further. It is recognizing someone else’s pain, feeling that pain, and then actively doing something to alleviate that pain.

The key to compassion is action. Without action, there is no compassion, there is only thinking and feeling which are tantamount to – you guessed it – thoughts and prayers. Activating compassion in your life is the key to healing not only those around you, but your inner self as well.

Sometimes we put limits on our own capacity for extraordinary compassion. We convince ourselves we’re too busy, we’ve got our own families, we can’t solve all the world’s problems, and so on. Instead of overwhelming yourself, try stepping into an act of compassion just once a week, then perhaps every other day, then perhaps every day. Remember, the key is not just thinking, it’s not just feeling, it’s actively doing something to help alleviate the pain or suffering of another person. Soon, your seed of compassion will bloom and grow into a garden of love that you helped to sow. And you know what? Soon you’ll think better of yourself, and you’ll feel better about yourself, because you acted better for someone else.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Courtesy of WilleeCole Photography / Shutterstock
Wisdom//

Here’s How to Respond With Empathy Without Saying, “I Know How You Feel”

by Jessica Hicks
Shutterstock
Thriving in the New Normal//

Turning Empathy Into Action

by Shawn Nason, Man On Fire
Community//

We Don’t Need Sympathy in the Workplace. Here’s what We Really Need

by Justin Bariso

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.