Compassion for Others

Excerpted from

You Can Change Your Life... Any Time You Want: An Inspirational Guide to Success


Imagine you go to a party. You are mingling with a number of guests, some of whom you think look quite interesting and would like to talk to, and one or two you think you must avoid like the plague - they look like they are going to bore you to death. The host comes across to introduce you to somebody you thought would bore you to death. You have prejudged them. You do not think they can help you personally or professionally so you are not that fussed. But just before you are introduced the host takes you aside and tells you this person is terminally ill. What difference would that make to the way you spoke and how you felt about them? If they asked your help in any capacity, even if it was just to get them a drink or help them upstairs would you do it? Why would you do it?

I believe you would do it, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because when the fragile nature of life becomes apparent, its true meaning also becomes clear. We realize that all we can offer another person is love, compassion and understanding.

We see the world not as it is, but as we are. We need to allow love in our life, and from love will come many meaningful behaviors and actions. Obituary columns often describe people as being good, kind, generous, philanthropic, fun, easy-going, good-natured and loving. Is there any finer legacy to leave than to be a loving person? Too often, we make our love conditional. We grew up being told that if we were good boys or good girls, then we would be rewarded. Yet parents love their children unconditionally. Nevertheless some children, in seeking their parents* approval, interpret love as a conditional response to behavior. It isn't. Love must be unconditional or it is not love.

I believe that love should be at the heart of our actions. We should hold love in our hearts; when we help others and share what we have with them, we should do so with love. To give a homeless person some money is giving of your wealth; to spend ten minutes talking with them and finding out about them is love, caring about another person. Like the ripple of a stone upon a pond, our actions travel far beyond the point of origin, long after we are gone. The effect they have can change and influence lives in a positive way. That is why we should seek always to do the best we can and to do the right thing.

You may never see the impact your smile can have, or know the effect of your kind words to a stranger in trouble, you may never know the difference you made to a life through a chance encounter. But there will be an effect.

I have received letters from people who told me of things I had done for them. Things that were so insignificant to me that not only I could I not remember the occasion, I could not remember the person. When they told me of the difference I had made in their lives, I was deeply moved. One person told me that they had almost given up on life itself, and I had taken the time to write a short note encouraging them, saying I believed they could succeed. They said it was the first time in their life anyone had ever believed in them. So be careful what you say, and how you treat other people.

Tags: Personal Growth

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