Did you know that February 14-20 is Random Acts of Kindness Week? At Loyola, it’s also our week for Compassionate Campus. During this week, we make a renewed commitment to being men and women for and with each other. It’s a time to notice all the compassion already around you, and to reflect on ways to increase your own capacity for compassion.
What comes to mind when you think of compassion, and is it meaningful to you? Sometimes it can feel daunting to try and embody lofty ideals. Other times, it can feel as if these ideals are saccharine greeting card notions, devoid of substance. How do you keep the idea of compassion relevant and present for yourself?
At its root, compassion means to “feel with.” In every day practice, compassion means to acknowledge the suffering, real or potential, of the people you interact with, and to do your best to lessen it. Do people leave their interactions with you happier or sadder; angrier or consoled? How do you like to be treated, and is it difficult or easy for you to treat others this way?
Often we are our own harshest critics. Do you treat yourself with compassion? Do you talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend, or your worst enemy? Many people believe that they won’t accomplish anything without self-criticism, but try using self-encouragement instead. Feel too drained to take care of anyone else? Start with yourself. Compassion is not about perfection or self-sacrifice, but rather the belief that collectively we have enough resources to take care of each other and ourselves, or at least the desire and ability to work towards this abundance.
Compassionate Campus is not only about reflecting on your own capacity for compassion, but also a chance to notice the compassionate acts taking place around you all the time. Imagine yourself as a kindness curator, and your world suddenly becomes a lot easier to inhabit.
Sound impossible? Not sure where to start? Stop by the One Loyola Room this week, and get some help. Commit to living a more compassionate life for one week, and see if it makes a difference.