“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”  Dalai Lama


Concern for others lies at the heart of these two precious virtues. Our words and actions towards each other demonstrate who we are as human beings and affect how we communicate. They are the ultimate mark of great leaders and outstanding citizens.

Although closely intertwined, empathy is the ability to relate to another’s suffering or situation, while compassion is what we do with that understanding. You might see someone in a difficult, or painful, situation, and think to yourself, “Boy, do I remember how tough that was,” empathizing with heartfelt sympathy, the proverbial ‘walking in another’s shoes’, or actually feeling sympathy pains. You don’t have to actually experience it firsthand to imagine it though. The act of doing something to alleviate that person’s struggle, however, is the compassion that follows.

There are infinite examples all around us, such as a sick neighbor. We can all relate, but do we take the initiate to bring them chicken soup, offer to run to the store or pharmacy for them, watch their children, walk their dog, etc.???  We have only to look no further than your own homes sometimes, neighborhood, community, state, country, and world to find immediate suffering. The daily news floods us with the trying circumstances of many.

Fortunately, we are capable of assisting, and of growing and benefiting in the process:

. You learn from other people’s experiences, as well as your own.
• Build better rapport, with more natural interest in other people.
• Strengthen your trust of others and their trust for you.
• Easier to make new friends, have better relationships.
• People are more forthcoming and open with you.
• Creates better collaboration and teamwork when solving problems.
• More natural respect for everyone.
• Every social interaction becomes an opportunity to learn and grow.
• Greater spiritual growth and a more fulfilling life.
• Deeper perspective into other people’s points of view.
• More understanding of yourself and others.
• Strengthen emotional intelligence.
• Boost overall happiness.
• More personal and professional success.


Joan Halifax exquisitely outlines the nature of compassion & empathy on TED:


We can all become stronger in these critical emotional areas by practicing altruism (the selfless process of focusing on others), acts of kindness, and meditation. We know that to function without an agenda is to sincerely serve, and acknowledging the struggles of others (empathy), and reaching out to help resolve it (compassion), is what we must aim for. Like Joan said in her TED talk, “Why are we not teaching our children these indispensable virtues?” Humanity depends on it…

With much care,

Debra Tiffany