Small Caring Moments: Compassion as a Default


After you read the blog, explore the Guided Meditation and respond to the questions in the Reflect & Journal section that align with the theme.

I can mostly attribute my early awareness of the importance of a caring heart and compassionate mindset to my parents. Our home was filled with love and affection and my parents’ actions in the community and the way they treated others shaped me in becoming the person I am today. While my parents may be gone from sight, there are countless times when I still refer to them as the guardians of my moral compass and the ones who instilled in me the virtue of compassion. Over time, I came to realize that one of life’s primary stories is about human connection and nurturing meaningful bonds — that every kind word, every hug and every caring gesture matters.

During my 30s, my insights on human flourishing were profoundly influenced by a tiny book called “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh. A Vietnamese Buddhist monk, global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh defended mindfulness and compassion as imperatives for living a happy, fulfilling life. My heart actually swells when I think of those early seeds planted and the immense benefit I continue to experience decades later from his wisdom.

For those unfamiliar, mindfulness is the practice of truly living in the present moment, fully experiencing and accepting whatever arises without judgment. It not only helps cultivate inner peace by increasing our awareness of the interplay between thoughts, emotions, and actions, but it also enhances our ability to deeply connect with ourselves, others, and the world around us. In time and with dedicated practice, the mindful path leads us towards a life of greater joy, freedom and connection.

So you may be thinking — “Sure, living mindfully with compassion sounds great, but how can I actually put this into practice?” The kicker is that when we extend our compassionate understanding towards others, we not only help ease their pain, but we develop a stronger sense of resilience and emotional well-being in our own lives. We get to feel that we are part of something greater than ourselves! Furthermore, by taking that first step to reach out and demonstrate concern, we begin breaking down the barriers that so often separate us. Instead of building metaphorical walls that block heartfelt connections, we can dismantle them brick-by-brick and create a world where people feel truly valued, heard and supported. The opportunity is there in the seemingly mundane interactions of our daily lives. It could be as simple as making eye contact and smiling at the frazzled cashier, baking homemade cookies for the hardworking nurses overseeing a medical procedure, or turning off lights and electronics when you’re not using them.

When I consider the overwhelming challenges our complex world is facing, I dream of the impact of more people practicing acts of compassion. I imagine that hatred, fear, conflict, violence, and war would gradually diminish as individuals would find common ground and compassion and kindness would expand beyond our immediate circles, ultimately creating a more unified and peaceful world. When we approach others with open, caring hearts and take the first step to make someone feel acknowledged, we sow seeds that uplift individuals and inspire them to pay that kindness forward.

As Thich Nhat Hanh so wisely reminds us, “Compassion is a verb.” It’s not enough to just feel empathy or concern for others — true compassion compels us to take action and put that caring into practice. By actively choosing to engage in compassionate behaviors, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, we can help chart a new course towards healing our wounded world and create a more humane future for all. Just imagine the transformational impact if each of us commits to nurturing a culture of care in our daily lives. How does that feel? So, the next time you find yourself with an opportunity to show someone you care, seize it and reconnect with the essence of love, which is your birthright.

If you find yourself nodding along, try integrating these 4 mindful living tips into your daily interactions.

Mindful Living Tips

Show You Care: Intentionally create a compassionate holding space that invites others to openly share their thoughts, feelings and experiences, knowing your presence and compassion can make a meaningful difference in their lives.

Recognize Our Shared Humanity: Make an effort to understand and empathize with people from all walks of life by actively listening to their perspectives without judgment, while challenging your own assumptions and biases.

Practice Self-Reflection: Take refuge and guidance from a loving heart by reflecting on your actions that align with the values of compassion and kindness.

Extend Compassion: Express compassion with each encounter as the default–acknowledging that everyone is navigating personal obstacles that are not immediately apparent.

Guided Meditation

Genuine Kindness

"Every minute of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style." Rebecca Solnit