Bradley Corbette over at Green Embers gave me the idea for this post.
I love the Dalai Lama because of the ideals he stands for. I think I would honestly cry if I got to meet him. Just everything he stands for is so beautiful beyond belief. The quote to the right is my most favorite quote of his because it is so true. I feel like America is obsessed with success, with climbing the career ladder, with competition, with beating everyone and leaving so much behind. So we want to “harden” people for a “cruel world.”
There are cruelties in this world, no doubt. You hear about them everyday: Monsanto, bombings, puppy factories, mass murders, ect. But the media focuses so much on these cruelties that we forget there is just as much beauty, if not more, in this world, and I think the Dalai Lama is the perfect embodiment of all that.
Instead of preparing individuals for a “cruel” world by hardening them, we need to be fostering the compassion that resides in all of us to create more sensitive individuals who help one another.
Success is different for everyone. I always hated those stupid titles you get in your senior year of high school: most likely to succeed, most handsome, most pretty, best dressed. What is the point of all those titles? To make everyone else feel down? To make a point that there are winners and losers? And what is most likely to succeed? I didn’t get the award, but I would say I have already succeeded in my life because I have met/am meeting the goals I set out for myself. I would say I am a lot more successful than most young people my age, but I would not say this success drives me as a person. I would say what drives me more than anything is my desire to reach out and connect to people, especially those who need it. And the best medium I can think to do this is my own writing.
We really don’t need more successful people. We need compassionate individuals. My sensitivity may backfire from time to time, but I wouldn’t want to be any other way. I don’t want to be hardened. Being hardened creates bitter people who seem absolutely miserable. Why does the world want those types of people? They’re selfish people, only out for themselves. They won’t do something for you without compensation. They always ask, “What’s in it for me?” They’re hard to reach out to.
So instead of letting yourself be eaten alive by people’s views of how you should be, here are some things you can do to reach out to others.
1. Smile at everyone you meet. You would be surprised what a smile could do. I smile to acknowledge people. People want to be acknowledged. It makes them feel like they matter, and they do. We’re not special snowflakes, but we certainly are important because we all have it in us to make this world a more compassionate place, and a smile is just the beginning.
2. If you’re talking to someone you don’t know, make that conversation about him/her. Listen more than you talk. People seem to enjoy my company because I listen more than I talk, so they feel comfortable enough to unburden themselves on me, and I think that’s great. One time I went to my city’s local dance store, and I started talking to the woman on duty there. I guess she sensed there was something about me and started unburdening herself on me, and you know what? I spent thirty minutes there just listening to her. I had the time and I knew it’d be helpful. She wasn’t terribly busy, and by doing this one thing for someone, I believe I helped her because it probably made her feel less stressed and more able to take on the day. I felt less stressed too because I did talk a little bit about myself, and I felt less alone.
3. Realize that everyone is human. We’re all going to have bad days. I had one woman get snippy with me while I was at work. I was about to call out to her to come over to register to win the Fiat, but she snapped at me. “Leave me alone!” I didn’t judge her as a horrible person. I acknowledged that she could be having a really bad day and let it slide off me.
4. Don’t expect everyone to be like you. I have one co-worker who seems to go out of her way to creating mini versions of herself, and it drives me mad. I can’t be like her, I can’t work like her, and I don’t care to do any of those things. All my other co-workers know this, and they’re fine with themselves and with me.
5. Let people feel what they’re feeling. Feelings are something you can’t help. If you find someone in distress, let that person be in distress, but also try to reach out. Simply asking “What can I do to help you?” can make a world of difference. Sure, it might be awkward to find someone crying in public, but sometimes it’s really difficult to dam overwhelming emotions, especially if that person has no one reaching out. You just never know what’s going on in people’s lives, and that person could be at a dangerous breaking point.
So these are just some things you can do to foster the compassion that is within you.