For the first time this year, I am dedicating the days of 2012 to one word: compassion. In the past I’ve written resolutions. By mid-February these goals are lost in the shuffle of life. Keeping a single word in mind will enforce a clarity that is new territory for me, but a plan that I am wholly enthusiastic about.

My need to embrace compassion came from an unexpected source. Last year I read  The Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. This story chronicles the friendship of two men, one a rich art collector and the other, a homeless man. What its taught me is something I can never forget. Everyone has a story. The homeless man. The prostitute. The thief. The banker. The doctor. Mothers. Fathers. Children. Sisters. Brothers. Every single one of us. And I think we all forget about the stories that people carry. I know I do. Many, myself included, may encounter the homeless man on the street and quickly assume, “He must have a drug or alcohol habit or he is mentally ill. Or he is lazy. He looks healthy enough, why isn’t he working?” In some cases, this may be the truth, but how often do we ask, “How did he get there?” Where is our compassion? I think  we are conditioned to believe the first thought that comes to mind. And that maybe a product of our upbringing, society, and how we carry ourselves in our own lives.

Compassion is an inclusive concept. It also means embracing compassion as a way of being gentle with yourself. I know that many times I’ve felt I am not enough. As a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. What compassion does is allows you to feel a freedom that liberates you to not judge yourself or linger a little with your flaws. I think we don’t get lessons about compassion in our everyday lives. It happens in the context of some tragic event, like a shooting or weather catastrophe. I want to integrate compassion as a part of my day to day life. For me, I hope it becomes a better way to walk toward love.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  – Dalai Lama


What is your word of the year?