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Concept of personal development: Compassion April 11, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal development.
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Personal growth experts often suggest that in order to acquire a virtue or positive behavioural attribute we need to perform positive actions within the definition of the attribute.

So, if we want to develop the personal quality of compassion we should perform acts of compassion. The more compassionate acts we perform, the more compassionate will likely become.

However, an additional approach to becoming more compassionate is to use logic to:
(a) Understand our lack of compassion (and the presence of resentment and prejudice [prejudging]);
(b) Become more compassionate; and
(c) Substantially reduce, and ideally, eliminate our prejudices.

If we understand the reasons for our lack of compassion and the reasons for the presence of our prejudice against certain situations or groups of people, then we will be more successful in correcting our overall attitude and behaviour.

One example of a lack of compassion, and the presence of prejudice might be in the often prevailing attitude that any kind of financial assistance to poor people should be used by them only to buy the “necessities of life” and not for any “frivolous” purposes.

The influential 18th essayist, moralist, and literary critic Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), commented however that there is a logical reason why people in constant financial stress might want some luxuries. He did not see their desire for enjoyment as a deficiency of character. His comment also reveals some of the meanness that can be present in our minds – meanness caused by a lack of understanding.

“Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding; yet for the poor we delight in stripping it still barer, and are not ashamed to show even visible displeasure if ever the bitter taste is taken from their mouths.” (*)

Perhaps we can also apply logic to achieve better understanding of our other prejudices, and thereby increase the probability of our becoming more compassionate.

(*) Samuel Johnson: A Biography, John Wain, The Viking Press, New York, 1975, 388 pages

Further reading

A Wikipedia article on Samuel Johnson can be found at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Johnson

 

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