Over the last few weeks I have been studying an Introduction to Social Psychology on Coursera. This lasts week’s subject has been Conflict and Aggression which concluded with a challenging assignment. We were tasked with living a day as compassionately as we could.
When I read what others had done previously and looked at what was already in my diary I suspected that I might have quite a challenge to do anything momentous. However, as I had been really impressed with the example of how social media was being used compassionately by Ronny Edry (it’s here and well worth looking at if you haven’t seen it) I thought if all else fails I’m sure friends on Twitter and Facebook will help me. But there was an added challenge in that we were instructed not to tell anyone about the challenge until afterwards.
So last Friday I lived My Day of Compassion and my social media friends did help me out, which was great. Especially when we are increasingly hearing negative messages about social media. However the biggest surprise for me was not how much my day differed from normal, but how little. Now don’t get me wrong, I was making an effort to be more compassionate but the changes that resulted were not dramatic. In fact no one commented on any noticeable difference in me at all! So I suspect any differences were quite subtle and many were probably completely internal to me. I think I did listen to others a bit more, and I did try to be a bit more sensitive in how I spoke to people. But at the end of the day I felt better for doing this and I hope that those I came in contact with did too.
So whilst I doubt what I did or learnt is going to win me the assignment prize of a trip to visit the Dalai Lama, it has inspired me to think more about being compassionate to others and to share this with others. I am certain that if many of us were just a bit more compassionate to each, the benefits could end up being quite significant. So why not give it a go yourself and have your own day of compassion? Who knows you might enjoy it as much as I did.