At Karate West, we teach that a compassionate lifestyle is core to living a full life and is key to the happiness of everyone involved in the act. It’s about recognizing the person left out of the crowd and talking to them when no one else will. It’s about standing up for the causes that benefit those in need and doing the right thing even if it’s not always the easy thing. The truth is that being a compassionate person is almost never easy, but there is so much good that we are capable of each and every day. It would be a dire injustice to the world to let those opportunities pass by.
The first important aspect to understand is why it’s often so difficult for us to make decisions that show compassion for others. After all, we know that it feels good to be on the receiving end of a compassionate gesture, so why would we not extend that feeling toward someone else, especially one who is in need?
Well, it’s complicated because it originates from many of our more selfish tendencies. We are all striving for success in our lives, and sometimes helping someone else feels like a distraction or a deviation from that path. Fighting those impulses can feel impossible, especially if we think that we might be ostracized by others in our community by lending a hand to an outsider or an individual in-need.
This difficulty extends even more so toward those we feel are roadblocks to our ultimate goals. We are regularly made to feel that our enemies should be fought and hated, that competition and conflict will yield a stronger outcome for the victor. While we should always strive to better ourselves, there is greater reward in healthy competition, respecting your competitors and learning to appreciate your differences.
So, what is there to do? How can we overcome the social limitations on compassion that we constantly impose on ourselves?
Of course, we have all heard the ‘golden rule,’ to “treat others as you would like to be treated.” This rule lends to our empathic nature. We know how it feels when someone else is hurting. We know that if we were in that situation, we would want help too. It’s about recognizing that feeling when it occurs to us, taking our focus off of ourselves and our personal goals, and offering a helping hand to someone else. It’s about making room for someone else in your life, even when it’s inconvenient.
Karate West’s Life Skill for October is “compassion,” but it’s a skill that requires more practice than a single month to master. Leading life through compassion requires us to not only be mindful of our own thoughts and actions, but also those of others. Through continued practice, you’ll soon find that the barriers that seemed so insurmountable at first are nothing compared to the rewards of having made someone else’s life better. Imagine a world where everyone made compassion a priority and pride yourself for being one more step toward that bright day.
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