How Can Being Compassionate Make Us Happier?

Updated: Apr 16, 2020


Compassion is one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness in to our lives.

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

This message from the Dalai Lama tells us that the secret to becoming happy doesn’t just lie within your self, but in your connections and interactions with others.

I’m sure we all agree that it’s a common purpose for each of us to strive to be happy. Are we actually aware that the key to happiness can be found in compassion?

From a scientific point of view research shows that people who practice compassion produce 100% more of the hormone DHEA, which counteracts the aging process and 23% less cortisol – the stress hormone.

How can we learn to be more compassionate?

The first step towards practicing compassion is to develop empathy for our fellow human beings. Some of us already believe that we have empathy on some level but don’t realise that also a lot of the time we are centred on ourselves. When the self takes over our empathy dissolves into the background and our ego becomes King.

One of the hardest things for us to do is to move beyond self-referencing. What we need to do is practice shifting our perspective away from exclusively thinking about how something affects ‘me’. Instead we need to ‘let go’ of the ‘It’s all about me’ mentality in order to expand our awareness beyond our self and make room for the connection that unites us with one another.

If you want to develop compassion in your life you will need to practice it throughout your day. We can mediate on it in the morning and evening. We can be compassionate while checking emails or on social media, think about it when interacting with others and reflect on it at the end of our day. If we do this regularly it becomes a part of our life.

Be a good listener

We can cultivate the habit of becoming a ‘big-hearted listener’. Listening with an open heart is a doorway to compassion and a tool for healing. Most of us don’t truly listen. We are often interrupting, judging what someone says or trying to fix them.

But truly listening creates a sacred silence and allows the other person to hear truth in themselves, often for the first time.

Let go of being judgemental

Make a point of releasing the intention to judge others by letting go of your own self-judgements. Stop and re-assess, observe and be aware of others predicament.

Be in the present

Practice being present with everyone you encounter. Refrain from looking at your phone. Avoid multi tasking, glancing at the TV or paying attention to anyone other than the one you’re with. Make eye contact, notice body language and use your emotional intelligence to really feel what the other person might be thinking. When you are truly present, your presence has a tendency to be experienced as compassion.

Practice something small each day

You can easily begin to practice compassion by doing something small each day. Even if it’s in a very minute way, it could be as simple as a smile, a kind word, or doing an errand, a chore or even just talking about a problem with another person. When we take the time to use these habits regularly, eventually they will become a natural extension of our personality all of the time.

Show compassion to those who are unkind