To gain purpose, we need to go deeper than just achieving personal goals by reaching out to others and showing compassion and kindness. "Compassion is the emotion one experiences when feeling concern for another’s suffering and desiring to enhance that individual’s welfare" (Keltner & Goetz, 2007, p. 159). In other words, it is the feeling we get when we see people in mental, emotional, and/or physical pain and get the urge to lessen the hurt. It is not necessarily about having empathy or helping the less fortunate but about seeing another person in turmoil (just as he is) and wanting to help out of goodwill.
Acts of Kindness
Showing compassion and kindness does not mean we have to overextend ourselves to be compassionate or kind. It should come from a place of a genuine desire to help others. This desire can be derived from many different sources and passions. Each one of us has a unique mixture of interests, passions, values, skills, and talents. The trick is to figure out how to use our skills and talents as a vehicle to champion our values and passions.
Viktor Frankl (2006) once wrote that: Being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself—be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself (p. 81).
This is the essence of compassion because we are generally a social species and being interconnected and being engaged in positive activities and causes have been shown to increase overall subjective well-being.
Thoughts for the Week
- What are a couple ways you think could use your talents to help others?
Volunteer for a cause that you're passionate about or help someone in need.