Compassion


People have sent in great suggestions for my third word to live by this year.

In my previous post I talked about minimizing the difference between those things we are concerned about and those things we can influence. An example was not responding to everything on Twitter - even if the poster is wrong.

Chris wrote to suggest the word I might be looking for is "slack" and Regine wrote to suggest "boundaries".

I like both of those words. I took "slack" to mean that I would be happy if I cut others some slack. I also took it as a suggestion to add some slack to my response cycle. How much better online discussions could be if we didn't fire off our answer immediately and hit send.

Breathe.

Consider the reaction of the recipient.

Think about how third party observers will understand the reply.

As wonderful as "slack" is, it's not quite what I'm looking for right now.

As for "boundaries", I love the idea of understanding the borders around different parts of my world as if they are lands that I can choose to visit or not. There are may other uses of the word "boundaries" that I like as well but it too is not quite what I'm looking for.

In the Tiny Challenges show I also talked about how I remember being at my daughter's soccer games and another parent would be there but not really be there. They would be on the phone throughout most of the game and I would get more and more annoyed.

On a recent visit, I was walking with Oliver telling him this story and telling him how I was searching for a word.

He suggested that I consider the word "compassion".

I immediately felt bad.

I thought of that father at that soccer game. What if the only way he could get off work to see his daughter play was to remain available on the phone. He would prefer to be able to watch the game without this distraction but wasn't able.

Compassion.

I think my friend saw this change in feeling reflected on my face. He saw me think of this other father differently and he saw me think of my reaction differently. My friend added we must be compassionate with ourselves as well.

Sigh.

It's true. The other father wasn't fully immersed in the game because of his phone call. But what about me? I wasn't immersed in the game because I was watching him. I was judging him.

Compassion is a great word.

It feels too important to adopt as a third word.

Compassion isn't something I should have as a goal for this year - it is something that I been trying to live by and coming up short forever. It's something I should aim for every day.

I'm sure I'll fall short in this goal every day.

I'll try to understand why and try again the next day.