An Unexpected Shortcut to Mental Toughness

What would satisfy you the most?

  • Buy the luxury sports car that you want?
  • Move to the five-bedroom home of your dreams?
  • Start a relationship with the partner that you yearn for?

Maybe, your desires are subtler.

  • Being respected by others.
  • Being admired by them.
  • Being approved.
  • Turning heads around when you’re in public.

Or maybe, you’re frustrated with the challenges in your life, and you want to retire and do nothing the whole day.

The Problem with Your Desires

The problem is none of those achievements will satisfy you. They mean something to you at this moment, because you don’t have them. Once you have them, they’ll be an ordinary part of your daily life.

  • Once you have the luxury car, it won’t satisfy you anymore. You’ll be dreaming of a yacht.
  • Once you have the five-bedroom home, you’ll be dreaming of a castle or a home with an ocean view.
  • Once you’re in a relationship with your dream partner, you’ll start fantasizing about other people.

This is all human nature. Our wants are endless. Seemingly desirable things lose their meaning once you get them. Even the respect, admiration, and approval of others don’t mean much after you get used to that.

After a while, having an easy life becomes boring. You start looking for new challenges or risk falling into apathy and depression.

I don’t oppose buying luxury cars or homes or starting relationships. Just don’t obsess with them. Don’t end up in adversity to reach them. They won’t satisfy you at the end.

They’re like the chocolate at the end of a meal. It’s nice to have one once in a while. But they aren’t essential.

If realizing all of your desires won’t satisfy you, what would?

What satisfies us is to help someone in need and to make a real change in their life. Compassion is on a different level of consciousness than desire. Desire is a bottomless pit. Compassion increases our level of consciousness.

Most people, especially men, misunderstand compassion. They think that it has something to do with being soft. That’s the exact opposite of the truth.

Compassion starts with facing the pain and suffering of others. That isn’t soft. On the contrary, it requires serious mental toughness. It also involves toughness to do something about that pain and suffering.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the suffering of animals that are consumed as food every day by billions of people. It’s easy to fit in with the society and give in to your desire of consuming animal products. Doing the opposite is hard.

What Compassion Isn’t

Compassion isn’t about donating to charity and being done with it. Giving money doesn’t resonate with the primal part of our brains. We need to experience how our donations change the lives of others.

Compassion is also misunderstood for self-sacrifice. You don’t need to sacrifice your own success for compassion. On the contrary, you can use compassion to motivate yourself to succeed.

You can use compassion to let go of the inessentials and to focus on what matters in your life and work. You can use compassion to work harder.

The Hardest Part of Compassion

Compassion isn’t just about helping people in need. It’s also not reacting with hostility when we think we’re mistreated. That doesn’t mean not to defend ourselves or our rights. That means not reacting with unnecessary force or violence.

By violence, I don’t only mean physical violence. I also mean psychological violence. A joke can be a cynical remark, which is also an act of violence on a subtle level.

When somebody acts hostile against you, think about the pain and suffering in their past that motivates them to act that way. Reacting to them is easy. It’s hard to recognize their pain and feel compassion toward them.

What kind of a world would we live in if everybody practiced compassion?

Pain is inevitable. We all will face pain in our lives, whether physically or psychologically. What kind of a world would you like to live in when that happens to you? In a compassionate world? Or in an ignorant world? Knowing that, do you want to be a part of a compassionate world or an ignorant world?

Conclusion

We, humans, have endless desires. Realizing our desires won’t satisfy us. That only results in more desires. As long as we know that fact, it’s OK to fulfill our desires once in a while. Just remember that they’re an inessential part of your life.

Contrary to the common belief, compassion isn’t softness. It takes a lot of mental toughness to face the pain and suffering of others.

It also takes serious mental toughness to not react with hostility when someone acts hostile against you. You need to recognize the pain and suffering in their past that motivate their behavior.

Compassion doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself. On the contrary, it gives you real, lasting satisfaction, peace, and joy. It eliminates hostility from your psyche, which makes you healthier. It motivates you to succeed and helps you build the character to do that.

Where would you rather live? In a compassionate world? Or in an ignorant one? Compassion increases the level of consciousness of the entire planet and makes it a better place to live for all of us.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly roundup of my latest posts.

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