C is for Compassion
Compassion unfolds out of the simple act of paying attention to another. Compassion means “to suffer with,” and it can be distinguished from sympathy, which means “to feel with.” Sympathy, while not an ignoble impulse, implies distance between oneself and the suffering of others; compassion includes a desire to alleviate the suffering of the other. When we feel sympathy, we relate to the narrative of the suffering of others, as if we were spectators—somewhat involved, but safely removed from it. Compassion is similar to sympathy, but with openness afforded by lack of storytelling.
Compassion is fundamental to our humanity. When we can relinquish our self-preoccupation, compassion naturally emerges. When the story of “me” no longer prevails we can tap into our connectedness to everyone and everything so that we can feel and be present in ways that not only help others but feel good as well. When we no longer feel the need to protect an image of ourselves, openness prevails.