The Seven Living Virtues*: Compassion

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ― Aesop


On a large scale, earthquakes, tsunamis, and wars affect multitudes of people.  On a smaller scale, individuals endure pain through the loss of loved ones,  homes, and jobs.

How do you react when faced with news that a friend has suffered a loss, or when you hear about a typhoon that has devastated an island?

Sympathy and empathy are helpful, but compassion is even more so.

What makes compassion different?

Sympathy means you feel and share in the pain, and empathy is trying to be in other’s shoes: thinking and feeling what they are thinking and feeling.

Compassion takes feeling empathy and sympathy a step further: Compassion is the desire to do something to ease the agony of others.

Compassion shows love and mercy, accompanied by a desire to act on those feelings.

You don’t have to wait for global or personal tragedy to use compassion; here are some ways to consider working it into your daily life:

  • Show kindness instead of acting or speaking destructively to others.
  • Avoid bringing pain or trouble to other people. Instead, do the opposite.  Do something to lessen whatever discomfort they might be having.
  • Practice respect instead of exploiting, harassing and/or belittling other people.
  • Defend human rights. Identify your own biases and work toward getting rid of them.
  • Work on being more tolerant of others, especially those you don’t understand.
  • Remember the Golden Rule and don’t do unto others what you don’t want them to do unto you. Treat all others how you wish to be treated.

How have you used compassion to help others?


* The seven living virtues are the positive version of seven deadly sins. This entry is part of a seven-part series:

  1. Fortitude
  2. Honor
  3. Compassion
  4. Charity
  5. Acceptance
  6. Forgiveness
  7. Humility

The idea is to learn to recognize and cultivate these traits in yourself, and to recognize and appreciate others who have them, with the intention of being happier and more fulfilled while on the path to accomplishing your goals.


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