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Compassionate Living

Posted by Julie on March 11, 2009 at 9:12 PM

I have been giving compassion alot of thought lately. I have been thinking about what great importance is placed in a child's education and what they will grow up to be but not much at all cultivating a loving, compassionate heart. What a shame that empathy is not held in as high esteem as good grades or a winning score. But how would you even teach something as intangible as compassion. You can't make someone feel something. So how does a parent go about planting the seeds of compassion in their children?

I believe that children learn more by seeing, experiencing and observing the examples set out by those around them (that would be you) than by any other means. So what does this mean? It means they "learn" compassion by observing you being compassion. Or you could say that they 'remember', as I believe that children are born compassionate, loving beings.

So, this sets us on our own compassionate journey. I must say that the society we live in isn't exactly fertile ground for cultivating a loving spirit. We are encouraged to 'rise above the rest', it's a 'dog eat dog' world and you can't let anyone hold you back. But I want to share some thoughts that found here about living compassionately. These are simple tips, and perhaps, if any of these ideas are appealing to you, you could could explain to your children why  you are doing them.


1. Grow your compassion! Incorporate compassion in all of your relationships – to people, animals, the environment, and yourself. Like a muscle, the more you use your compassion, the stronger it will get. Here is a small sampling of ways to live compassionately:

  • Help people: Do not support sweatshop-labor. Buy fair trade and union-made goods. Treat both friends and “enemies” with love. Admit your prejudices and work to remove them. Consider volunteering.
  • Help animals: Go vegetarian, boycott fur and leather, spay and neuter your animal companions, buy products not tested on animals, and don’t patronize circuses and rodeos.
  • Help the environment: Go vegetarian, drive less, bike more, consume less, reduce your waste, use energy efficient appliances/vehicles, and take more walks in the woods.
  • Help yourself: Most of all, take care of yourself. Don’t wallow in guilt, or live in fear. If you’ve wronged someone, make amends. If you’ve been wronged, learn to forgive. Spend time in nature and socializing with friends.

2. Nurture your compassion daily. Pray or meditate daily to strengthen your moral courage, integrity and persistence to create a world where all beings are free of suffering and misery. Read the writings of compassionate people for inspiration, such as Jane Goodall, Mohandas Gandhi, and Albert Schweitzer.

3. Work compassionately to live compassionately. The majority of our waking life is spent at work, so make sure your occupation is part of the solution and not the problem. If your employer makes or sells products that harm people, animals, or the environment, look for a new job – or work diligently to reform the business.

4. Have compassion at every meal. Eating creatures causes so much harm to people, animals, the environment and oneself (see this for yourself at that dropping animals from your diet is a good initial step on the path of living compassionately.

5. Progress not perfection. Trying to live a compassionate life can be overwhelming. Be content with persistent and steady progress in the right direction.


I like the first one. Compassion is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. All it takes is simple steps. To learn more about raising compassionate children check out this site.

Categories: Nurturing the Spirit

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1 Comment

Reply NC Mama
9:19 PM on March 15, 2009 
This is a great article. Thanks Julie.