Along with the arrival of the holiday season comes the annual emphasis on showing compassion to one another. We’re taught that this time of year is a time for treating others with kindness and love. While this is well and true, we should challenge this stereotype and promote kindness to others all the time. With the holiday season in full swing & everything that has gone on in the past 8 months, it should go without question that our world needs to see more compassion.
Sometimes it can be hard to think of how exactly to show compassion, especially in new or unknown situations. It can really be as easy as a few kind words. Today, I’m going to share 5 ways in which to show compassion this holiday as well as every day that follows.
- It Starts With You
This one may sound cliche, but many do not realize that you cannot show compassion to others until you appreciate yourself. Start by recognizing and praising your small victories and focusing on qualities you like about yourself instead of dwelling on all the things you would change. Learning to love and show compassion to yourself is the real way to radiate it to others. This is definitely the hardest on this list to accomplish but will be the most rewarding not only to yourself but to those around you.
- Gift Giving
Of course with the holiday season having already begun, giving gifts if you are able is a very thoughtful way to show compassion. Holidays, birthdays, or for no reason at all, a small gift can make a huge difference in someone’s day. Try to go an extra step by asking yourself, “Do I know what this person likes?” If not, maybe you should get to know! Gifts don’t always have to be tangible either; some people prefer meaningful words or experiences rather than a physical item. Gift-giving should always be done knowing what the recipient would truly value and enjoy.
- Be an Active Listener
Spreading kindness becomes a lot more genuine when we actually care about each other’s needs. Being an active listener is crucial in making people feel that you care. Do you really know what being an active listener looks like? Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore their thoughts and feelings. Active listening not only means focusing fully on the speaker but also actively showing verbal and non-verbal signs of listening. Staying engaged in positive conversation as well as giving nonverbal cues, like eye contact, when you’re not speaking is the most important. Reflecting on what is told to you and then responding without specific advice or a solution is the next step to ensure sincerity. There’s no better way to show compassion than letting another person know you sincerely care.
The word advocate can mean a lot of things depending on the situation, but helping people and causes that are important to you is the main descriptor. Many groups are in need of advocating whether those groups are made up of people you know, complete strangers, or don’t include people at all! Helping a friend or family member who is sick or in need of assistance is a great way to advocate. Spreading awareness for minority groups and other people needing recognition and/or acceptance by donating money or your time is another great example. Giving your own time when money isn’t available is just as compassionate. Spending time with people or completing tasks to help others is very rewarding. An important part of advocating is to be aware of challenges and to not spread any false information. We must be respectful and aware of our privilege before we try to understand the struggles others are going through because they may not always directly affect us. This only sums up a few options on how you can show compassion through advocating, but it’s very easy to get started.
- Give Benefit of the Doubt
We can be very quick to judge others and/or their intentions without knowing them. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just say, “I’m going to give that person a pass today.”? Be the bigger person. Even if someone may hurt our feelings, we show compassion by just simply recognizing we’re all human and make mistakes. “Forgive and forget.” For example, the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of immediately getting angry, take a deep breath, and consider other reasons for why their driving was erratic. This applies to any situation. Just like how most people don’t know what’s going on with you, you don’t know what’s going on with others. So let’s all try to assume positive intent.
It seems that all too often a theme of the holidays is to spread love and kindness, but we really should be doing that all the time. This article is just to get all of us thinking that there doesn’t have to be a reason or excuse to treat people with kindness.
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