Compassion is feeling the feelings of others, so I hear. Compassion, then, is a method of connecting with the nature, the identifiers, of others. In essence, you transform yourself to sense someone else’s pain. If we really get into this sense of others’ pain, we take it on to such a point that it renders us a suffering cohort. So, like original pain, transformative pain of caregivers can lead to depression and sadness. The word to note there is can.
Fortunately, my world isn’t filled with horrible cases of transformative pain. My fellow employees aren’t suffering from hunger, war, or political upheaval. But, they can suffer from feelings of insignificance or smallness. They can suffer the pain overbearing bosses (not me!) or when things simply don’t go the right way. And, please note, what may disturb one person wouldn’t even show up on the scales in another.
Now, the big announcement: compassion is not typically revered in corporate worlds. Bosses are supposed to get things done. They’re supposed to work. And, a big part of their job is to make employees work, too. Basically, corporate structure is almost a serf system, where many groups are in servitude to few bosses.
If bosses aren’t careful, they can take on so much of this weird, impersonal, non-compassionate power and become non-human. They end up doing things, saying things they wouldn’t normally do. They become some sort of another beast.
All research today shows that empowerment and freedom to perform are best for happiness and productivity. Even then, with all this scientific support, corporate structures feed power which ultimately feeds control, creating 'us-better-than-them' in-group versus out-group competition. A sad state, especially considering this compassion thing.
My Experience with Pain
Yep, I noted that my world isn’t filled with horrible cases of transformative pain. But, am I ready to hear of a death in someone’s family, of a child with school problems, or an upcoming divorce. Yes, I think I am, in my own way of taking on the seeds of compassion.
In a previous life, I used to oversee an area about four miles from my office. I always had the best of intentions of getting over there and seeing my folks but, the stars rarely aligned. However, BBQs almost always seem to make things better, so, we had one and I was one of the cooks. My goal: spend the day with roughly 100 good people, cooking (it was a very hot day), serving, shaking hands, and telling co-workers they do a great job.
Was my behavior this fine day different than any other normal day, different from the normal me? I don’t think so. I’d like to think I was already a compassionate human, but that this BBQ pushed it all down to one day. But, did I feel any better about myself? Possibly, even though my day was a rarity, seeing all those good people. I think what I liked best is there was no normalcy: no meetings, no bureaucracy. Instead, I spent the day shaking hands, listening to others tell their stories, and grilling burgers.
Sure, I was pooped that day. Were the benefits worth the effort? Absolutely. My pooped spirits lifted, for me and I hope for everyone there. Employees who feel the drudgery of work (sad) did something different for a day, and I was a part of that mood change. That felt good. Yeah, I had to catch up on other work the next couple of days but even I had a newfangled spring in my step.
My behavior will slowly go back to the way it was, which isn’t necessarily bad. I’m not an uncompassionate person. In fact, I’m fairly happy with myself. I’m compassionate, by golly!!
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” [Dalai Lama]