Sunday, December 17, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Compassion

Since we are in the midst of the holiday season, I thought it was a good time to think about compassion and empathy. Ironically, in this "season of giving," we may be even more wrapped up in our own lives than usual. With so much to do and family gatherings to prepare for, gifts to buy, and - for us - trying to rest more so that we can manage holiday traditions, we are all so busy and self-focused that we may be even less tuned in to other people than normal.

Interestingly, in this brief TED talk on compassion, Daniel Goleman explains how studies have shown that the #1 factor is whether a person shows compassion for another person - for instance, stopping to help a stranger in need - is how busy they are and how wrapped up in their own "stuff" they are. Check out his interesting and thought-provoking talk:

Even if some of us are homebound and don't encounter the kinds of situations Goleman is talking about here, we can get wrapped up in our own stuff, even in online communities that are supposed to be about supporting each other. It's pretty easy to get caught up in your own suffering and forget to tune in to other people's suffering. Thankfully, most of our online patient communities are kind and supportive generally, but it can't hurt to remind yourself to listen to someone else and feel empathy and compassion for their own struggles. In fact, that's something that life with chronic illness has taught me - one of its silver linings. I've learned that everyone in life is dealing with his or her own challenges. They may be different than mine (and it never helps to compare challenges and play "who's got it worse?"), but almost everyone you meet - in real life or online - is dealing with some kind of struggles that are usually invisible to others.

So, take a moment in this busy season to get out of your own head and remember to show compassion and empathy for others. Who knows? Your small gesture of compassion could be the thing that turns around someone's day - or even their life.

Couldn't we all use a little more kindness in our lives?


  1. Thanks for the reminder, it's a good one.

    1. I think we can all use this reminder from time to time!