Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Compassion

Countryside, County Clare, Ireland


Things feel very much like they did post-911 right now (at least career-wise). My clients, friends and men and women I meet through public speaking engagements, seem to feel less sure, less grounded and fearful (if not anxious) about the road before us. Many also share a sense that everything feels very speeded up, that things are moving too fast.

If I were asked “what is one quality you think would be serve the world right now?” my word would be compassion.

I heard a radio interview this morning with a well-known author who said he believes many of us are experiencing “empathy deficit” disorder, due to being overly focused on seeking pleasure or relief from external things and not being connected to those around us.

I find I’m able to really shift when I’m going through a hard time, simply by being more compassionate towards myself. And, when I can move beyond “walking in my brother’s shoes” into feeling true compassion for what they might be experiencing—regardless of their crazy or abrasive behavior--my perspective moves to a different plane altogether.

I have the privilege of getting to serve men and women daily by supporting them on their career path. My clients show up “warts and all”—feeling gratitude for the opportunity to be seen for who they really are. In turn, I am able to hold a space of “possibility” for them and extend deep compassion for their courage in taking risks, asking for/receiving help, being vulnerable, living with "not knowing,"and wanting to experience and be something greater than that which they can currently imagine.

Compassion can also manifest in the smallest ways—a warm smile for someone clearly struggling with kids at the grocery store, a genuine “how are you doing” to the clerk who helps you check out or even just taking time to really “see” a coworker, neighbor, teacher, parent, family member, child or employee who might feel—or are treated as if-- they’re invisible.

Mother Teresa said the fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action. I love that quote.

If you were to choose one quality to “gift” the world right now, what would it be?

Comment on the photo: This weekend, my six-year old decided to create a little “altar” in a corner of his bedroom. to honor qualities that were sacred to him (he heard about this idea from a great book called “Peaceful Piggy Meditation,” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0807563803). One of the items he choe was a beautiful pink flower from our herb garden to symbolize kindness to others. It is amazing how something so “everyday”—when noticed from a new vantage point—can have such a powerful impact.




Enjoy the photo above that I took in County Clare, Ireland on the way to the seashore last summer.

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