“Too much self-centered thinking is the source of suffering. A compassionate concern for others’ well-being is the source of happiness.”-The Dalai Lama, The Book of Joy
When we focus on ourselves while suffering, when we wallow in our despair, it is easy for us to shut out other people’s experiences and other events in the world. While we need to take care of ourselves to heal from, and process, our suffering, we can become so taken with ourselves that it begins to seem like we are the only thing in life. We limit our ability to connect with others because we have eyes only for ourselves and our issues.
In the midst of this deep wallowing, we may wonder why it is we cannot find joy or happiness. When we become consumed with our suffering, we have not given joy or happiness space to grow; thus, we will be cut off from them. We will also bar meaningful experiences with others from our life, experiences that could help our healing process.
By extending compassion to others while experiencing our own suffering, we open ourselves to encounters that aid our healing. We see that there is more outside of our pain and understand that it is healthy to laugh and have new experiences. Moreover, when we extend compassion to others, through volunteering for example, we see that we are not alone in our need for love, companionship, and understanding.
Sometimes, when we feel like the world is against us, turning toward others in pain and asking what we can do to help them can ignite a fire of compassion that softens and heals us in the process.