The notion of sad puppies or kittens. Heart-wrenching for all.
Beyond tearing up at the thought of sad, hopeless, baby furry creatures, what makes up a truly compassionate person?
Compassion and empathy come hand in hand. Empathy means being able to feel and resonate with another person’s emotions, while compassion is a more active approach to stepping in and responding to help another person’s suffering.
It’s almost impossible to be compassionate without being empathetic; why else would you be spurred on to step in and help someone if you don’t feel moved by their plight?
The world would also be a better place if we all incorporated more compassion into our lives.
Being able to feel someone’s suffering is one thing, but actively going out of your way to help them, to support them, or to improve the wider climate is an excellent trait to have.
It not only helps those around us but also leads us to have a more fulfilling life.
Ready to find out what 15 signs suggest you’re a compassionate person?
1) You share the emotions of those around you
Continuing on with the theme of empathy, a big sign of caring deeply for others is when you’re able to feel their emotions as if they were your own.
If hearing about someone’s grief or struggles actually has an emotional impact on you beyond “sucks for you”, and you instead put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they’re going through, chances are you’re highly empathetic.
Compassion trots closely behind in empathy’s shadow.
2) You act on that empathy
To empathize and to feel is one thing. To actually act on those feelings is another.
If you know that you’re the type of person to step up and help a friend in need, even if it’s inconvenient to you, you can count yourself compassionate.
Not being afraid of getting your hands dirty in shared chores or voluntary work that benefits other people is a sure sign of selfless devotion.
3) You reach out to those you care about
And even if those you care about aren’t going through tough times, you can consider yourself compassionate if you still keep them in the back of your mind and reach out regularly.
By that I don’t mean “aww, sorry your dog died”, ensued by a day of commiserative texting then radio silence.
You message frequently and pop in to visit (if you’re welcomed), you remember important dates like birthdays or anniversaries, and you’re otherwise very conscious of lifting up your social circle.
4) You’re mindful and present around others
When you do hang out with friends or family in person, you’re also incredibly conscious of how valuable their time is.
You’re not the type of person to waste the one free weekend your friend has scrolling through social media and only half-listening to what they’ve been up to.
You know that relationships are precious, so you’re mindful and considerate in giving your full attention to people you’re with.
5) You’re not afraid to open up and get vulnerable
And when you do hang out with friends or partners, you’re not adverse to a deep dive into big thoughts and complex emotions.
Instead of shirking from how you’re feeling, you’re able to express how you’re feeling and encourage others to do the same.
If you can reflect on how people act around you and notice that people do tend to open up and share things in your presence, chances are that they notice your compassion and feel safe around you.
6) You’re a fantastic listener
They feel so safe in sharing their vulnerabilities because they know that you’re a great listener.
Compassion requires fluent active listening skills.
By that, you need to be able to go beyond listening, to actually understanding what they’re saying, reflecting on what they’re feeling, all without jumping in and passing premature judgement.
People will also feel more inclined to open up and develop meaningful relationships with people who make them feel understood.
So if your listening skills are *chefs kiss*, you’ve got one of the most crucial elements of compassion nailed.
7) You’re welcoming to everyone
If you’re the type to welcome each and every newcomer with open arms and a warm smile, you’re also likely a compassionate soul.
Some adults still approach strangers with a frown, believing that newcomers need to prove their worth before they receive any nice-ness in return.
But not you.
Every person is to be respected and valued, so you cold-shoulder no one nor do you leave anyone hanging at the door.
8) You’re respectful and cordial
Alongside being so welcoming, you also have exceptional manners.
This is largely due to the universal respect you grant people.
You’re polite and friendly, you ask open questions and remember small details, and otherwise make people feel seen and valued.
9) You know you’re not perfect
Those newcomers might not be perfect, but they still are worthy of your respect.
Additionally, you’re not perfect either. You’re well aware of that fact.
Still, being self-aware and knowing your flaws doesn’t cripple your self-worth nor stop you in your journey into self-improvement and helping others.
10) You’re also really kind to yourself
Despite those flaws, you extend your kindness and compassion to yourself, too.
A big fan of self-care, you know that you can’t help others to your full potential if you’re not also looking after yourself.
Self-care practices are threaded into your daily lifestyle; nutrition, hobbies, meditation.
You’re as kind to yourself as you are to others.
11) You’re great at expressing gratitude
Gifts, praise, and actions – they don’t go unnoticed.
You adore every inkling of effort people show you, and you make sure that they’re aware of how thankful you are.
You’re quick to dole out praise and you love it when people reciprocate your compassion by showing you kindness in return.
12) You enjoy teaching others
Part of your compassionate nature means that you also enjoy broadening the horizons of other people when it comes to caring deeply for other people.
Not in a brainwashing type of style.
Instead, you invite your friends to come volunteer with you.
You gently remind your partner about how kindness goes a long way.
You cut off petty gossip and curtly remind people that killing with kindness is the only form of malfeasance that has an altruistic outcome.
You work gently and tirelessly to remind others about how beneficial caring for all the other people (and animals) on our planet is.
13) You’re true to your words
And everything you say and promise, you stick to.
It’s never a case of ‘practice what I preach’ and hypocritical actions.
No, you preach and you practice.
Whether it’s promising to help out a friend or standing up for a stranger in need, your compassion runs so deep in your veins that you can be counted on, no matter what.
14) You’re patient
In relating to those around you, in educating others and building relationship, you have endless patience.
Well, maybe not endless, but you still are never quick to temper nor snap.
You know that some people take a little longer to figure things out.
After all, not everyone is as caring and selfless as you.
With that knowledge, you don’t mind taking a little longer to help others in their own journeys. Or help an elderly person across the road.
Compassion takes time, which you’re more than willing to give.
15) You truly believe in making a difference
All of the above only work if you actually believe that every little helps.
Whilst you might not solve world hunger during your lifetime, you still believe that smiling at a stranger can have a monumental butterfly effect that impacts their lifetime.
Even small gestures of kindness and compassion go a long way.
Your unwavering faith in your ability to make a difference through your awareness of others and willingness to help spurns on the above and reminds you to be compassionate, even when life gets in the way.
Ready to cultivate compassion?
Maybe you’ve looked at the above and ticked off every point.
If you have, I’m in awe. True and genuine compassion is such a beautiful quality.
If not, the good news is that compassion can be cultivated.
Yes, like a little compassion garden.
If you strongly fail to relate to any of the signs that make up a compassionate individual listed above, use them to your advantage as areas in which you need to improve.
It’s time to plant the seeds and get watering.
But when it comes to experiencing peace and fulfilment through demonstrating compassion and thinking about how you could help other people, it could be that you’re not living your life aligned with a deeper sense of purpose.
The consequences of not finding your purpose in life include a general sense of frustration, listlessness, dissatisfaction and a sense of not being connected with your inner self.
It’s difficult to go out of your way to help others when you’re not feeling in sync.
I learned a new way to discover my purpose after watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s eye-opening video. He explains that most people misunderstand how to find their purpose, using visualization and other self-help techniques.
However, visualization isn’t the best way to find your purpose. Instead, there’s a new way to do it which Justin Brown learned from spending time with a shaman in Brazil.
After watching the video, I discovered my purpose in life and it dissolved my feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction. This helped me to think about ways in which I could extend my self-awareness to those around me and start making a difference.