The power of Compassion

To be able to connect with another’s pain is being human. Even if you can’t do much to help, wish that person well. That’s being compassionate.
There’s a lady who we often see at a community event that we go to. She’s a young mother, probably in her early 30s. Her 10-year-old is struck by muscular dystrophy. Of late he has not been coming with his mother. The other day she told us that her son cannot come to these events anymore because of the flight of stairs that he has to climb at the venue. Given his deteriorating condition, she said, he can’t even move, let alone climb. I have always found an intrinsic sadness in the lady’s eyes. Even when she is laughing and chatting enthusiastically, I have found her eyes to be searching for an answer – perhaps seeking to find out why her son is specially endowed?
We felt for the lady. We found ourselves powerless to be able to help her or her child in any way. So, we simply wished her well.
Pain is a queer phenomenon. Even when you make peace with your pain – by accepting it – it will still haunt you subconsciously. For people who are connecting with you, who are around you, feeling your pain all the time may not always be possible. But they sure do sense how much you are going through and how difficult it must be for you. It is human nature to feel another’s pain. But allowing that feeling to drive you to constructive action – not always with the potential to alleviate the other’s pain – is compassion.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to someone in pain is send them your positive energy. You don’t even have to be near the person. You can be in another city or even continent. But thinking about that person deeply, and the pain she or he is going through, and sending your positive energy helps greatly. You could send your energy through a prayer – if you do believe in the act of praying. Or you could just send out a wish into the Universe wishing that person well.
Compassion works both ways. It never is visible. You can’t see it or touch it. But it is very powerful. It will touch you. You will be able to feel it. When you are compassionate to someone in any situation, even without your ability to help that person physically, that person will feel good. And so will you.
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Say “Yes to Life” – no matter what!

The easiest response to Life, when things don’t go well, is to turn grumpy and be depressed. But feeling that way is not going to get you anywhere. The only way to respond to Life is to say “YES” to it – no matter what your circumstances may be!
I was thinking about a couple, close friends of our family, last evening. Their first born, a boy, would be 17 now. They live in Singapore. The boy was afflicted by muscular dystrophy (MD) – a progressively degenerative muscular disorder – when he was barely a few months old. In the case of the boy the disease is severe and for all the complications that come with the condition, he has very little time left. Even so, the couple are the most positive people you can ever meet. They are happy looking after their child and supporting him to live as normal a Life as is possible in these conditions. The wife once told me, “It seemed impossible to accept the reality when the doctors shared the news with us. I don’t think any parent can deal with such a prognosis with regard to his or her child. But over time, I noticed that despite what his limitations were, our boy wanted to do things that all children do. That’s when my husband and I resolved that we are not going to mourn our fate. We are going to live our Life, with our child, helping him live fully too – as long as he can.” I have never seen this couple grieve over their child’s condition. They have always been happy – despite all the challenges that come with raising a child having MD.
The immediate response to Life’s challenges is a big “NO”. But saying “NO” to Life is pointless. Because it changes nothing. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, in his profound book (published in 1946) “Man’s Search for Meaning” writes, “When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the Universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.” What Frankl says is true. Wishing away Life’s realities, pining that your Life be different or mourning your circumstances get you nowhere. It is always what it is. So, when you are suffering – and you realize that just as no one can alleviate your suffering but you, suffering in a situation cannot change it either – you learn to accept your Life for the way it is. Through such acceptance you seize the opportunity to be happy! That’s what saying “YES” to Life is all about!