We would like to invite you to join this 3 day compassion challenge where you can learn how to be compassionate in your everyday life.
Compassion is easily one of the most powerful things out there. But it’s also one of the more difficult things to live by. We say ‘live by’ because the majority of us do have compassion. It’s in our human nature to feel and connect with others and the desire is only stronger when we see people suffering. Our compassion sometimes flickers and shines, but it’s usually buried beneath the commotion of daily life, our ambitions and our expectations of the world.
The problem lies therein our perception of compassion. When we think of compassion, we often think about it in a way that is distant and unattainable for us. Some of us may believe that in order to live a life full of compassion, one must dedicate their entire life or career to it. For example, we think of a doctor or a charity worker living overseas as compassionate people. But what about the barista who noticed we were having a bad day and gave us a cheerful smile? Unfortunately this perception undermines our own (as well as other’s) ability to be compassionate and also dismisses the idea that we can be compassionate whoever and wherever we are.
The Compassion Challenge
This challenge doesn’t require you to do anything out of the ordinary. It will naturally weave itself into your daily life and will help you to reflect and build upon your value of compassion. Eventually, the goal is to make you realise that you can be compassionate and can share that kindness into the world with everyone.
Before starting, we recommend you to read this blog post about excusing our way into compassion. The points made in that article will be fundamental to the challenge.
So here’s the challenge:
For the next three days, as you go on about your life, try to excuse people for their actions as many times as you can.
What this means is:
- If someone does or says something that upsets, irritates, frustrates, annoys or hurts you, think of some reasons why they may have done that.
- If someone does or says something that is unusual, weird or outside of social norms, think of some reasons why they may have done that.
This applies to everyone including our friends, family, colleagues, pets and strangers. When we took on this challenge ourselves, we actually found it easier to excuse strangers compared to our friends and family!
The events that you are excusing people for can be big or small. Every time you start to feel a negative emotion towards someone, direct this energy to finding an excuse for them instead. Usually we just idle there for a while, thinking of a few excuses for that person and mentally acknowledging it. You can also quickly write it down on your phone or a notebook instead, this is actually a better way to come to terms with what you’re doing.
Obviously the more reasonable, logical excuses are the ones that you can believe yourself. But of course, you can be as creative as you want with the excuses. Come up with one, two or as many as you can. Sometimes we resonate with a certain reason because we were actually in that person’s situation before!
Here are some examples:
- A driver suddenly cuts you off in morning rush hour traffic. Although you may feel annoyed or angry, think about why they might have done that. It might be their first day at a new company and they were late to work or they might be rushing to the hospital because they received news that their wife was in labour.
- You received a wrong coffee order. While there’s nothing stopping you from asking for another one, instead of feeling upset, think about the possibilities. Maybe there’s a new barista or front server in training or they might be having a bad day. Or perhaps someone accidentally mixed up the coffee beans while they were in a rush.
- You see a familiar face looking in your direction and realise that it’s someone you are friendly with from college. But she didn’t say hi to you. Instead of jumping to conclusions, think that she was looking behind you, lost in her own thoughts or even thought you didn’t want to be disturbed!
- You might encounter someone doing something that people consider weird or unusual. Maybe dressing eccentrically or talking a bit too loudly on the phone. Rather than joining in the judgement, resonate with them. Perhaps what they’re doing is normal in their culture or they want to identify with their personality and so on.
The aim of this practice is to dissolve our negative thoughts and emotions towards someone and replace it with compassion instead. While excusing someone might not seem like much, it is an incredibly powerful act. The fact that we are able to see pass someone’s actions and be compassionate even when we are negatively affected by it, is inspiring.
Eventually, by the end of the three days, the excuses will come naturally to you whenever you encounter a situation. When we let compassion overtake our impetuous response and emotions, we open ourselves up to opportunity, kindness and care. At the end of the three days, you’ll find yourself calmer and with more clarity and perhaps realise, how easy it is to be kind and compassionate.
Share Your Journey
If you’re participating in this challenge, we would love to know! Send us a message on our Facebook or via the contact page here. If you’re posting about it, make sure to tag us @embodynourish or use hashtags #embodynourish, #3daycompassionchallenge!