It’s been said that compassion is empathy in action. Empathy is being able to understand someone, put yourself in someone’s shoes, and try to imagine how they’re feeling. When we act with compassion, when we act with empathy, this means that we care about others, that we treat others with kindness, and that we seek out ways to help others feel cared for and respected.
The simplest way to gain understanding or empathy for someone is to get to know them. Asking people questions about themselves and attentively listening will help you imagine how they feel. This will help you understand how you can be a better friend to them.
When you are meeting someone new, try to think of similarities you have with them and think of ways that you can relate. If someone is excited about a new sibling being born in their family and you are an only child, you could remember a time when your family adopted a new pet to try and empathize with their joy.
Sometimes, like in the case of animals or characters from books or historical figures, we can’t just ask questions to understand something, but we can still do our best to know them or imagine what they feel like. Take a moment from their life and think about what they would feel in that moment. What would you do if you were them? What would you notice? What would you be thinking? This is an excellent way to build empathy and to practice putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
If the root of compassion is understanding how someone is feeling, you can practice self-compassion by understanding your own feelings. You can use music to practice self-compassion.
When you are feeling frustrated, be patient with yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes without being too upset. A compassionate response to being frustrated with yourself is to take a break and give yourself rest. Listening, learning, and performing music can unlock emotions within us, and understanding those emotions will build our understanding of compassion and empathy.
If you play in a music group, such as a rock band or wind ensemble, and someone is struggling with playing their part, you may relate, having gone through your own struggle with learning the music too. This happening in front of peers can be embarrassing and stressful to some. You could step up to support your friend, reassuring them and offering to help if they need it.
It’s so important to have compassion for those around you because a world with compassion and empathy is filled with joyful, loving, happy people.
This week, practice compassion by putting yourself in the shoes of someone you know. Ask them questions, be a good listener, and see how they open up to you. This shows your compassion toward them. Be sure to listen extra carefully with your features too. See you next week!
The Little School of Music Leadership Program introduces monthly principles to enhance the life lessons, leadership skills, and character development experienced in music education. This is at the core of our program as we use music and learning to play an instrument as the tool. Each month a short introductory video on the monthly leadership principle will be shared with parents, students, and teachers to watch at home. We encourage students to extend what they learn to other parts of their life including at school, at home, and especially among their peers.