The other day, I was reading AJ’s quote of the day, and it reminded me of compassion. I went back to what the Dalai Lama had to say and ran into his message on compassion.
I thought of the people I’ve run into in my life – at the new job and at the old jobs, grad school, undergrad, volunteering, even a few clients… I remember how some people acted like they were smarter than you, or they held something above you, or barked orders at you, or were just plain mean. They may or may not know that they are acting this way. There is always a group (or groups) of mean girls in the workplace (and life!). (This includes the men. I’m equal opportunity, remember?) At the core, perhaps these people I’ve run into have been trained to act the way they do by their parents, friends, other colleagues… by example. Perhaps they were just born this way. [Hat tip, Lady Gaga.] You can’t control their stupidity. But you can control your actions and reactions.
You have to step up and be the better person. It would be better for your mental and physical health, I believe. Plus what good does it do for you to retaliate or react badly? It just makes you feel worse – whether you feel it or not. This is something that has been hammered into my [thick] skull since my Practice of Self Management class in b-school. There are times in the week where I catch myself wondering why this person is this way or why this other person is such a jackass. Then I’ve got to regroup and remind myself that in the end, Is it going to matter? How will I work with this person? How can I partner with him/her to make an event go smoothly, without letting the public know what’s going on What is my body reacting to? Am I acknowledging my body reactions – stress spikes, hackles up – and what am I going to do about it?
Conversely, you, too, have to watch what you do. Ie. I have to not be petty or the mean girl or act as though I own the world. I have to be aware of what I say or think or do and understand any ramifications that come from my actions or inactions. Fortunately, I know I don’t own the world, so I think we’re safe from my acting like an ass 100% of the time. No guarantees though. Ha!
I bookmarked this page by the Dalai Lama because I am just as full of flaws as the next guy. I have to remind myself on how to be. I thought you might find this helpful, too. Here are some excerpts:
I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering.
From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.
The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.
As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but every one who has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome troubles. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen as yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind!
Thus we can strive gradually to become more compassionate, that is we can develop both genuine sympathy for others’ suffering and the will to help remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength will increase.
But of course it is also true that we all have an innate self-centeredness that inhibits our love for others. So, since we desire the true happiness that is brought about by only a calm mind, and since such peace of mind is brought about by only a compassionate attitude, how can we develop this? Obviously, it is not enough for us simply to think about how nice compassion is! We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior.
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively.
Of course, others may try to take advantage of you, and if your remaining detached only encourages unjust aggression, adopt a strong stand, This, however, should be done with compassion, and if it is necessary to express your views and take strong countermeasures, do so without anger or ill-intent.
You should realize that even though your opponents appear to be harming you, in the end, their destructive activity will damage only themselves. In order to check your own selfish impulse to retaliate, you should recall your desire to practice compassion and assume responsibility for helping prevent the other person from suffering the consequences of his or her acts.
For a person who cherishes compassion and love, the practice of tolerance is essential, and for that, an enemy is indispensable. So we should feel grateful to our enemies, for it is they who can best help us develop a tranquil mind! Also, itis often the case in both personal and public life, that with a change in circumstances, enemies become friends.