It’s somewhat easy, really, to respond with compassion. Empathy takes direction from whatever is asked of you. The circumstances tap your heart, and you open it in response.
You say you’re sorry, you pledge prayers and thoughts, your heart goes out… You hurt for others, you feel their pain. You console and comfort.
But compassion is always, at best, slightly after-the-fact, a moment too late.
What do you call this energy when it’s given in advance of need?
Generosity of Spirit
Simple acknowledgment — the little things that make others feel visible and heard, worthy and important.
It’s holding doors for everyone. It’s the stockpile of free smiles that you never run out of. It’s complimenting a stranger on her style in the morning, before she could ever have a bad hair day. It’s remembering to tell someone he’s loved, before any doubts can creep in.
Noticing someone’s efforts before he ever runs out of steam. Giving a push and a pat on the back when there is already great momentum. Encouraging someone to try while she still feels brave.
The personal rewards of handling light are warmth and illumination.
Compassion is reactive. Generosity of spirit is proactive.
Image credit h.koppdelaney via Creative Commons on Flickr