Michelle suggested that we should dedicate a twenty-four hour period to compassion. We decided on a day, which coincided with World Smile Day, and we found that to be appropriate. Something I didn’t consider was that I would be jet-lagged from my trip to Utah, so by the time I woke up, half my day was gone! I extended my Day Of Compassion into the following day, just to ensure that I had the full experience.

Things I did to observe this occasion:

+ Smiled at people I passed
+ Did not eat meat
+ Set up an official recycling system in my bedroom
+ Small random acts of kindness, like holding doors open
+ Considered friends for job openings I knew of

I also allowed myself time to unpack, organize, and get re-acquainted to home life after my trip. I realized that the best way to be compassionate towards myself was to do this, because otherwise my anxiety levels would increase. It’s hard to help other people before you help yourself.

I also went through the Starbucks drive-thru with the intention of paying for the person behind me. Unfortunately, no one came behind me. The good news is that I had a really pleasant interaction with the barista. He was very nice and commented on the dinosaur that hangs from my rear view window. We had a conversation about the dino and I tipped him. I realized that even if what you set out to do doesn’t work, there’s always more opportunities for compassion.

An interesting coinciding event was that my mother kicked my brother out of the house, and he came to stay with us during this time. The story of my mother is one for another time, but suffice to say that this is not the first time she’s done something like this. I moved out when I was nineteen, unable to take it anymore, so I understand what he’s going through. The thing is, though, that my brother and I have never really been close, but when he came over I was kind to him. I actually had an entire conversation with him! We slightly bonded over our experiences with our mom, played with Bug, and were more than civil.

I feel like that was a good challenge for me to experience on this day. Compassion is showing concern for others, and genuinely feeling sympathy for the suffering that they may be going through. I’m really one of the only people that can understand what my brother is going through, so it’s important for me to be there if he needs it. More than just feeling for another person, compassion also involves doing something about it. Feeling empathetic is one thing, but taking action is more important.

Another test of compassion happened at the thrift store. I was purchasing several of the exact same item, and they had the exact amount that I needed. When I went to purchase them, one was missing a price tag. The cashier refused to sell it to me. I was really upset because it was the last one, I needed it, and it would be incredibly easy to just hit the same button one more time. I thought, “It’s a thrift store, it’s not like there’s any real inventory. Everything is profit.” I tried to reason with her, but she wouldn’t budge. I made a sour face, and didn’t say “have a good day” with any real emotion.

Yes, it would have been easy for her to just sell me the item, but it is the company policy. Do I find that policy stupid? Of course. But she’s really just doing the job that’s been assigned to her. I shouldn’t have gotten so upset and I shouldn’t have acted in a way that would potentially make her feel bad. I realized it almost immediately, and texted Michelle about my “compassion fail” on my way home.

I think it’s good all these things happened, though. Making sure I send out Halloween mail, taking care of myself, and giving gifts are things that I have control of. I don’t have control of other people, and that was the biggest lesson for me in this. My brother moving in or a sales clerk not doing what I want are things I have no influence over, but I do need to work on how I react to them.

How would you celebrate a Day Of Compassion? Does that seem like a challenge you could take on? Read about Michelle’s experience.