Choosing Compassion

I want to ask you to try something. As you read this, get in touch with who or what you are not loving right now. Then take a moment and allow yourself to feel compassion for the other, especially if it is yourself.

Notice how you change. This isn’t about them and it isn’t about the relationship. It’s about you feeling better about yourself. It is simply not worth being invested in all the tension and anxiety we constantly create for ourselves.

I pass by gyms or yoga studios and see people busily working out or running outdoors in order to improve their health and look great and I want to say to them, “If you really want to live longer and improve the quality of your life, pay attention to all those self-condemning inner thoughts that you use to rip yourself to shreds!” If people could see the affect that these negative thoughts had on their life expectancy, they would stop them in a heartbeat. Those thoughts are more damaging than being overweight. Actually, it is not an either/or situation. We need to get rid of both.

You can argue about subtleties, but when all is said and done, every life situation comes down to two simple choices. You either respond from compassion or you hold back. It is that simple. You can either choose to be compassionate or not. And it is a choice. So as a first step, always:


It doesn’t matter what the situation is. You do not have to like what they did, but hold compassion for them regardless. Love who they are, not their fear, not their rage, not the foolish and stupid things they sometimes do.

Today if you have to push yourself, do it. Set aside the resentment and the pain and find your compassion. Love them because they too, are children of God. They may be completely lost, but they are still who they are.

Take care of yourself when you do this. Do not subject yourself to hurtful behavior, but even if you have to be compassionate at a distance, do it. Work on opening your heart; not for them, but because it will make you feel better, much, much better. Bartholomew said, “When you choose love when you have every reason to choose other, then you truly become the Master.”

That is the secret behind Christ’s admonition to, “Turn the other cheek.” Yes, it will make for a better world, but what the Christ was really getting at is that it will make for a much better you. And, if you can find it in your heart to extend some of that compassion toward yourself, that would be especially wonderful. Vincent Van Gough said, “The best way to know God is to love many things.” Start with yourself. Choose Compassion.

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