Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."- The 14th Dalai Lama
People often get confused with empathy, sympathy, and compassion. Empathy involves responding to another person's emotions with emotions that are similar. This would be to connect with someone at a similar level over an initimate conversation and/or bond. Sympathy entails feeling regret for another person's suffering. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines compassion as the sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
Compassion would entail both empathy and sympathy. It means to understand the suffering and wanting to do something about it. An example of showing and giving compassion is giving someone a hug to ease their pain or helping the less fortunate. Many show compassion in different ways. Sometimes we try to figure out the "why," but sometimes it's not about the why, but the how. How does that person feel and what do they need to feel better? How do you practice compassion? When is the last time you demonstated it?
* Photo courtesy of Brooke Logue Photography.