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Take the 7-Day Self-Compassion Challenge & Feel Better About Life

ChatOwl Wellness

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“If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others If you have no compassion for yourself, then you are not able of developing compassion for others.”

Dalai Lama

It’s easy to talk about compassion, but it’s often difficult to put that compassion into practice. How can you build a compassionate life in today’s competitive, cutthroat world?

The first step towards a compassionate life is building a strong sense of self-compassion. Self-compassion isn’t something taught to us in schools and is often entirely missing from our upbringing. Many who journey towards building a compassion life find self-compassion the most challenging part of it all.

Do you genuinely wish yourself health, happiness, and an end of suffering? Or, like many of us, do you sometimes foster subconscious negative thoughts about your emotions, mistakes, and imperfections?

Give yourself compassion and feel better about life with the 7-Day Compassion Challenge. Because self-compassion is the first step, but often the most difficult, this week-long challenge integrates a deep focus on self-compassion. As you’ll see below, there is a big focus in this week-long challenge on self-compassion

Are you ready to develop skills that can improve your outlook on life and your sense of self? Take this 7 Day Compassion Challenge to get the skills you need for a life bursting with compassion.

What is Compassion?

Breathing exercise: feeling the breath with hands on chest

Compassion is one of the pillars of Buddhism, and Buddhist teachings have helped spread the word about the importance of this practice. According to About Dharma, “Compassion is a mind that is motivated by cherishing other living beings and wishes to release them from their suffering.” But the roots of compassion come from many other religious and cultural traditions as well.

Importantly, genuine compassion for others is not consciously or subconsciously tied to your wellbeing. Self-centered compassion, although well-intentioned, is not real compassion.

Genuine compassion operates independently from your own desires and is a genuine desire to see all others relieved from their suffering.

Developing a Compassionate Practice

Unfortunately, today’s modern world wasn’t designed with compassion in mind. It’s a world filled with competitive and zero-sum interactions. To get ahead, we are often taught to look out for ourselves and ourselves alone.

But this rat race doesn’t make the world a better place. It definitely doesn’t alleviate suffering, improve relationships, or spread happiness.

To build a better world, we need to develop more compassion into our daily routines. It means looking after ourselves, but also our friends, family, and total strangers.

Wouldn’t you feel better if you knew everyone who passed you on the street wished you well? Or that your coworkers and colleagues wanted the best for your career?

Developing a compassionate practice into your day to day form the building blocks to this better world. First, you look inward to create loving-kindness for yourself. Then you turn your gaze outwards, to foster this compassion for closed loved ones than cast the net father abroad to strangers and the world itself.

There are four steps to creating a compassionate life:

  • Compassion for Self
  • Compassion for Loved Ones
  • Compassion for Others
  • Compassion for All

Compassion for Self

“If your compassion doesn’t include yourself, it is incomplete,”

Jack Kornfield, Buddhist Practitioner

Before you can develop empathy for others, you must first learn loving-kindness towards yourself. It can feel immensely challenging to approach yourself with kindness, especially if you’ve had years of practice feeling otherwise.

There are three pillars of self-compassion: Self-kindness, recognition of imperfection (common humanity), and mindfulness. The first three days of the seven-day compassion challenge help work towards these practices.

Compassion for Loved Ones

For many, developing compassion for friends and family is much easier than the first step. We already feel a deep connection towards those closest to us like love, empathy, care, and concern. We would never want our loved ones to experience pain, hardship, or upset.

You may already have a healthy seed of compassion buried within you for these people, and all you need to do is work with it, to stoke the flames.

Part of the focus in this stage is to disentangle your own desires from the compassion you feel for friends and family. It’s essential to endeavor to alleviate pain and suffering for their own sake, not for yours. As an example, is there some part of you that wants your loved one to get better so that your relationship with them is better? Work through this subconscious selfishness to create pure compassion.

Compassion for Others

Moving beyond the immediate realm of relationships and out into the big wide world is the next step. Compassion for strangers and people you bump into throughout your day changes the way you approach the world.

Compassion for “the other” is compassion for those you don’t know or understand. They may be very different from you, with different political ideologies, lifestyles, and habits. Still, wishing them a life free from suffering is to approach them on a positive foundation. If you already have compassion for strangers, you have an unspoken connection.

Compassion for All

The final stage of compassion, and arguably the most abstract – is compassion for the world. Think about people across the planet from you, the animals, and other living organisms on this blue globe of ours. Send out peace and happiness to all four corners of the compass.

Pull up images of other cultures, religions, and people from the opposite ends of the spectrum from you. Think about easing their suffering and delivering happiness.

Working towards this final stage can help realign your outlook on life. If you feel compassion for the world, you’ll find that you’ll feel better daily. Compassion for all is a meaningful way to develop contentment and love.

Take the 7 Day Compassion Challenge

Compassion needs practice – so challenge yourself to a week of training. Day by day learn the skills to take this practice beyond the week. Develop self-compassion, compassion for others, and soon compassion for the world around you.

Day 1: A Focus on Self Compassion

Meditation:

Practice 10 minutes of loving-kindness meditation, focused inwards. If this is your first time practicing meditation, get into a comfortable position in a room with no distractions. Take a few long deep breaths to calm the mind. Breathing in through the nose for a count of three and out through the mouth for a count of three is an excellent way to start.

Once settled, bring the following mantra to mind or read it from a piece of paper:

“May I live with ease. May I be happy. May I be free from pain.”

Contemplate each phrase slowly, bringing to mind visions of what this would feel like in practice. Keep breathing and keep repeating this mantra as you build a mental image of feeling at ease, happy, and free of pain. Focus on being kind to yourself.

If your mind starts to wander, gently pull it back towards the mantra without judgment.

Action: Start a self-love journal (to continue using well beyond the scope of this Compassion Challenge). Every day, write down three things about yourself that you love.

For example, did you avoid conflict to focus on peace? Maybe someone ran a stop sign in front of you, but you didn’t let it ruin your day. Perhaps you’ve practiced saying thank you in response to a compliment, instead of denying it. This journal is just for you – so feel free, to be honest.

Day 2: A Focus on Self Compassion

Meditation:

“May I live with ease. May I be happy. May I be free from pain.”

Practice 10 minutes of loving-kindness meditation, again focused on compassion for yourself. Remember, it’s vital to love and forgive yourself before you can offer this to others.

Action: Take two hours away from others and spend it with yourself. This means turning off the screen, putting the cell phone away, and spending quality time doing something you love. Try to find a quiet, contemplative activity.

Some examples include a steamy bath, a long walk in the woods, a solo-yoga practice, or a crafty activity. It’s essential to find something which allows your mind to wander.

Day 3: A Focus on Self Compassion

Meditation:

“May I live with ease. May I be happy. May I be free from pain.”

Practice 10 minutes of loving-kindness meditation, again focused on compassion for yourself.

Action: Write a list of limiting beliefs you hold, which prevent you from feeling self-compassion. Common beliefs we all feel at some point include feelings of unworthiness, self-hatred, or self-doubt. Try to be specific with what beliefs are holding you back.

Take each of these beliefs and challenge them. Why are you worthy? Why are you beautiful? Why can you believe in yourself?

Day 4: A Focus on Compassion for Loved Ones

Meditation:

“May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.”

Practice 10 minutes of the loving-kindness meditation, but this time turning your attention to close friends and loved ones. Many people find this step easier than the first because we tend to love others more than we love ourselves unconditionally.

Again, settle your mind with long, regulated breathing. As you repeat the mantra, pull up images of those you love deeply and imagine sending love, kindness, and compassion from your heart into theirs.

Action: Text, call, or DM at least ten people in your contact list today. Catch up with them about their life, experiences, and plans. Steer away from small talk and make the questions count. Some examples include:

  • “I’ve meant to ask, how was your summer vacation?”
  • “I was thinking about the health concern you mentioned. How are you doing?”
  • “How are you making out at your new position/school?”

Day 5: A Focus on Compassion for Loved Ones

Lensball at sunset at the beach

Meditation:

“May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.”

Practice 10 minutes of the loving-kindness meditation targeted at friends and family. If you find this challenging, it can often help to start with a family pet. Work your way from those closest to you, to those farther away. Each time: bring up their image and spread your compassion outward through the mantra above.

Action: Think about someone in your inner circle who needs a hand. How can you help this person to reduce their suffering? Can you bring them a meal or offer to run their errands? Can you ask them out for a coffee or lunch? Reduce the pain of a loved one through an actionable step.

Day 6: A Focus on Compassion for Others

Meditation:

“May you live with ease, may you be happy, may you be free from pain.”

Practice 10 minutes of the loving-kindness meditation, starting today with a mantra focused on acquaintances and even strangers you pass on the street. Again, close your eyes, take a few slow, meditative breaths, and focus on the strangers you’ve encountered. Repeat the mantra while maintaining deep, slow breathing.

Action: Talk to strangers today. When you order coffee from the barista, take a moment to ask how his morning is going. Tell the bus driver you love her glasses. Smile at all the customer service people you encounter, and try to say at least one helpful comment to them about their service.

Day 7: A Focus on Compassion for All

Meditation:

“May all communities nearby be safe, happy, healthy, and free from suffering.”

Practice 10 minutes of the loving-kindness meditation, working your way through repetitions of each stage, including compassion for yourself, for loved ones, for others, and now for the world. Spread your kindness to the far-flung corners of the globe – no matter the person you envision at the receiving end.

Action: During the evening news segment, bring up your compassion for the world for each difficult or negative news story. Try holding space for even those portrayed negatively (criminals, war loads, etc.). Remember, compassion is different than acceptance or approval.

The Immediate Benefits of Self Compassion

Through each daily practice, all designed to develop self-compassion and outward compassion, you’ll feel immediate benefits. You will find a sense of contentment, lower anxiety levels, and a positive sense of self that will seep into your life.

Even if you were to focus entirely on self-compassion, you’d find your relationships with others will improve. A lower internal turmoil naturally means lesser outward turmoil. Your relationship with yourself has a direct and impactful impact on your relationship with others.

What benefits will you discover from your 7 Day Compassion Challenge?

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