Compassion Meaning, benefits and how to be compassionate

One question has kept bugging me always – “What is the purpose of life?” Whenever I ponder on this, the answer comes – “I want to live meaningful and fulfilling life; to stretch my abilities; to cultivate what is best within myself; and to enhance my experiences of love, happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind.” To fulfill this purpose of life, one need to be compassionate. Compassion and daily acts of kindness make life far meaningful and fulfilling. It motivates to go beyond your abilities and spread love & happiness. It enriches your experience of satisfaction and peace of mind. The irony of being more compassionate is that the very act of giving to others, makes you feel better as well. It benefits both those who receive it and those who share it.

“Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.” ~ Buddha

Before we move foreword, let us first understand the compassion definition or the real meaning of being compassionate.

Compassion / Compassionate Definition

Compassion meaning in dictionary goes like this – “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others”. If you ask me, “What is compassion?”; In simple words compassion can be defined as emotion or feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. Compassion is having sensitivity and an emotional aspect to suffering of others.

Compassionate definition is simply imbibing compassion in your behavior. The meaning of Compassionate is having or showing compassion i.e. feeling or showing sympathy, kindness and concern for others.

Compassion vs Empathy – Understanding the difference

Many people don’t understand the meaning of compassion, they use empathy and compassion as synonym. But, both are not same. Compassion is a step ahead to empathy. Empathy is putting yourself in other persons shoes in a given situation. It is basically an ability to understand the perspective and feel the emotions of another person.

Whereas, compassion is a step ahead; in this, those feelings and thoughts also include the desire to help. Being Compassionate has an added element of having a desire to reduce the suffering of another person. Compassionate people go beyond mere feelings and do something to help or relieve the sufferings of other person.

“Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” ~ Dalai Lama

Dalai lama Quotes compassionate

Benefits of being compassionate

Practicing compassion has several benefits. By showing compassion a person not only helps the other person but in essence helps himself/herself as well. Here are some of the most exciting proven benefits

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~ Dalai Lama

Be compassionate

How to be more compassionate?

The virtue of compassion is universally valued. Everyone wants to live with a wisdom and compassion. But when it comes to live a compassionate life, it’s not that easy. Here are the most important tips and strategies to develop compassion.

Contemplation of Past Sufferings

Think about your past adverse life experiences, sufferings and pains. Your toughest times in your life, when there was no ray of hope and you were looking towards others to give your life a breath.

This helps to create more sensitivity and awareness towards sufferings of others. This augments sympathy, an important aspect for being a compassionate person. Also think about the people, who came out of blues and alleviated your sufferings. Recall the times when you’ve felt comforted by them. Recalling how others have comforted us can make us more compassionate. Contemplation of past adverse life experiences serves as essential ground work for compassionate action. Research says it can help us to feel more compassionate toward others.


Practice empathy  towards people you interact on day to day basis. Be it your family members, neighbors, colleagues or even an unknown customer you meet at workplace.  One of the most important step in cultivating compassion is to develop empathy for other people. While communicating with them, instead of mere listening, truly get behind their eyeballs and discover what they are thinking. Notice their facial expressions and body language. Learn to read the unsaid portion in between the lines. You must show empathy and identify with their perspectives.

Acts of Kindness

Kindness is an act of trying to help others in their tough situations. It’s an integral part of compassion. When you practice compassion; first through empathy you understand the pain and sufferings of others. Second, you feel the pain and suffering of others.  Third, you take an action to help them and alleviate the pain or sufferings. Here third part taking an action is kindness.  When you practice acts of kindness on day to day basis, your compassionate quality get strengthen naturally. Kindness and consideration for those around you will ultimately give you lasting happiness as well as personal, professional and social respect.


Getting up from your seat and giving it to an old aged passenger in local transport, not bargaining with the poor vegetable seller, taking a person to hospital who met with a road accident and helping a blind person to cross the zebra line; all such small activities matters a lot. Always volunteer to help other people in difficult situations even if it means being uncomfortable.

Don’t mistake people-pleasing and approval-seeking with kindness. Kindness doesn’t mean selling out what’s true for you in order to make someone else feel good.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, says, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

The Golden Rule

Do you remember my CHRISTMAS special post on “Life lessons to learn from Jesus Christ” ? There I talked about Christmas Lesson #1:  The Golden Rule. The ”Golden Rule” of life is based on the principle Jesus Christ taught in Matthew 7:12. This verse is considered to be a summation of the entire sermon.  This is all the life lessons from Jesus combined. The Golden Rule is – “Treat others as you would want to be treated” 

When you look deeper into this teaching of Christianity, compassion seems to be built on this golden rule only. Act on this golden rule and you are on the way to imbibe compassion automatically.  If you treat others like how you want to be treated you will be showing exemplary compassion.

Listen generously

Be generous and spend time, when you listen someone’s problems. This is one of the best tool for healing them. Most of us do not give time and truly listen. We are always interrupting, judging what someone says, advice without demand or trying to fix. By listening and understanding a person’s suffering in an accepting and nonjudgmental way, you can ultimately help this person begin to heal through self-reflection.

Practice Compassion Meditation

We all know the benefits of meditation, but meditating specifically on compassion helps to become more compassionate person. Compassion meditation , also known as “loving-kindness” meditation are the practices, mostly derived out of traditional Buddhist practices. Compassion Meditation focuses awareness upon alleviation of the suffering of all sentient beings. In this form of meditation you focus your thoughts on wishing well-being for others. Your brains can be rewired over time to be more compassionate through compassion meditation. Loving-Kindness Meditation strengthens the feelings of kindness and connection toward others.


Forgive people who frustrate you, or create irritating situations that cause you discomfort. You will find it difficult in the beginning to let go of people and things that cause or bring you pain. But when you practice forgiveness on day to day basis; you will find that it’s helping you to be more compassionate. Do not harbor anger, dislike, or hatred, for someone or something and develop more love and forgiveness in your personality.


Practice gratefulness and count your blessings. Feeling and expressing gratitude makes a profound impact on your life — especially if you do it on a daily basis, all year round. Gratitude is extremely powerful, it turns the unexpected into perfect timing, mistakes into important events, problems into gifts and failures into success. Being in gratitude creates a love for every person and every moment in your life. Gratitude awakens kindness and makes you more helpful, generous, and compassionate.

Tibetan monks and nuns offer prayers of gratitude for the suffering they have been given: “Grant that I might have enough suffering to awaken in the deepest possible compassion and wisdom.” So, being grateful helps you to be more compassionate.

Well that’s all from my side, I would like to end this article with this quote

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”  ~ Dalai Lama

Be patient and keep trying the above mentioned strategies. One day, you might find yourself more open to suffering—and more capable of addressing it—than you’ve ever been before.

Over to you now. Please share your experiences and views on compassionate life in the comment section below. I and the other readers will love to learn from your experiences.

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