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The words compassion and kindness are sometimes used interchangeably, but the two words have distinctive meanings. Kindness is defined as “the quality or state of being kind,” or “a kind deed,” according to Merriam-Webster. Compassion, on the other hand, is a “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it,” according to Merriam-Webster.
For many people, trying to support or alleviate the problems of others when they are dealing with their own busy lives may feel impossible. But once someone has practiced self-preservation and self-care, it’s important to look outward and focus on others. It may seem like we’re all living in our own little worlds, but at the end of the day, we are all connected and directly impacted by the choices of others.
When we take an interest in the plights and struggles of others and act compassionately, we are often not only helping other people but also helping ourselves. A simple act of compassion can make a positive impact on someone else's day. As Oprah wrote in our “The Life You Want” Planner: “Extending yourself in compassion to another human being changes the nature of your relationship—the acknowledgment of one human being to another is what bonds, strengthens, and expands the human connection.”
To inspire all of us to live a life full of compassion, we sourced the best quotes, words of wisdom, and remarks on the topic from writers, scholars, and other notable names. These 50 quotes will encourage you to make compassion part of your everyday life.
"The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality," Schopenhauer wrote in On the Basis of Morality.
"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity," Chödrön wrote in The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.
In Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself Neff wrote: "Compassion is, by definition, relational. Compassion literally means 'to suffer with,' which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect."
Ray wrote: "Compassion is all-inclusive. Compassion knows no boundaries. Compassion comes with awareness, and awareness breaks all narrow territories," in Nonviolence: The Transforming Power.
"Love and compassion are the mother and father of a smile. We need to create more smiles in our world today. Smiles, after all, pave the way to a happy world," Maraboli wrote in Life, the Truth, and Being Free.
Cailey Griffin (She/Her) is the Editorial Assistant to Oprah Daily’s General Manager. In addition to assisting the GM, she also writes for Oprah Daily. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Columbia University. She has interned at 60 Minutes, NBC News, and her work has appeared in Foreign Policy magazine. Outside of Oprah Daily, she can be found running around Harlem or listening to the Wicked soundtrack on repeat.
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