Compassion is what makes our lives meaningful. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
All life has meaning. All life has purpose. But what gives our lives meaning? This quote says compassion is one of the ways our lives are infused with meaning.
Yes, you could spend your life pursuing material pleasures, at the expense of others. That would lack compassion, and I imagine that life would be fairly meaningless.
There are plenty of TV shows and movies about people who follow that path. Personally, I pity them. They are missing what I consider to be the meaning of our lives, to help others.
But how does helping others, or showing compassion, make life meaningful? I don’t have words for it, but if you search within yourself, I believe you will find times when it has been true even for yourself.
Why is helping others important?
I find it hard to imagine that anyone has not been there, at some point in their lives. Down on their luck, and in need of help. It could be something as simple as a flat tire. Yes, you probably could have taken that tire off and replaced it with the spare, but having someone there to help brings comfort.
Now consider how the helper feels. You get to be the hero, the one who rescued them. Even if, as mentioned before, they could have done it themselves, having others there helps the time go by, and many hands make for lighter work. You have traded a few moments of your life for something meaningful.
There are memories we keep, treasure even, where someone helps us, or we help them. They are part of us, and part of our highlight reel. They are us and others at our best. What could be more meaningful? While I can think of a few things, they are few and far between.
Where can I apply this in my life?
I believe we can all apply a little more compassion in our lives. Where ever people are in need of assistance or help, we can try to be the answer they require. Even if it isn’t exactly the answer they were hoping for, right?
That doesn’t mean that every person in every situation must be helped. There are too many of them, and too few of us. We cannot meet every need of every person. But we can try, as often as possible, to provide what help and what compassion we can.
At the root of these actions is compassion, which does not always mean that their desires are met, but that we help them where and how they need it. What do I mean by that? A junkie wants drugs. Talking them into rehab isn’t what they want, but it is what they need, right?
Unless you are a professional drug counselor, you will probably fail in your attempt to talk a junkie into rehab. But you can try. It may take three or four people talking to them before they take that step. If you decide not to talk to them, how long will it be before someone else does?
We have plenty of opportunities in our lives to help both friends and strangers. Whether it’s helping change a tire, pushing a stalled car off the street, or letting someone help you with a task, we are adding meaning to our lives.
The prior paragraph brings up a point I often forget when composing a post. There are two sides to each quote. I usually focus exclusively on what we can do to embody the quote. However, most quotes have a flip side, one where we let someone else do it to us.
Think about the first time you were able to help someone else do something which was difficult for you at the time. The first time you helped a parent with chores around the house. How proud were you that you helped? Your parent’s compassion for your desire to help made both your lives more meaningful.
Through both our actions, and by allowing others to act, we make meaning in our lives. We can learn, we can teach. Both have the ability to add meaning to our lives and to theirs. The only thing we have to do is act, or allow them to act. We can help them or let them help us. Both work equally well.
Compassion, in word and in deed, helps to bring meaning to our lives. It is one of the reasons we act, or allow others to act. The warm feelings which come to us in helping (compassion) or in allowing others to help (gratitude, compassion’s companion) are what makes life worth living, in my opinion.
What makes your life meaningful?
- Compassion (learningtoliveablissfullife.yvonnebltd.com)
- WakingTimes – Rebecca Gladding, M.D. – Is Compassion For Suckes? – 6 October 2013 (lucas2012infos.wordpress.com)
- Daily compassion.. (papilloncoaching.wordpress.com)
- The Wisdom in Compassion, a Matter of Nuance (kmhubersblog.com)