Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Personal Strength of Compassion - "Pay It Forward" Will Break My Heart Again

I love movies, and I have a DVD collection of favorites. I invest in a DVD when I love a movie so much that I know I'll want to watch it again at least three times in the future.

It's been five years, so tonight I'm watching "Pay It Forward" with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osmont. For the fourth time. I'll watch this one alone. My wife Kathleen says she can't watch it because it breaks her heart. It breaks my heart, too, from beginning to end, but I have to watch it. This movie recalibrates and recharges my heart. 

If you've seen it, you know it's about compassion. I believe compassion is a form of personal strength, because it’s not always so easy to sense the needs, feelings and distress of others when you have your own burdens. Disappointment, pain and loss have a way of focusing your mind inwardly.

Also, people are remarkably different from each other, which makes communication, understanding and tolerance difficult. In most cases, other people's troubles are different from yours; and you don't know what these troubles are, which makes it hard to appreciate their situation. Imperfect people act imperfectly. Sometimes they're thoughtless or careless, and the instinctive reaction is not a compassionate one. It’s hard to keep in mind that this is just another human being struggling with life and feeling pain just as you do.

Much has been said about compassion. I checked my database of quotes, and I'm reminded that during the last 2,500 years, more people have had something to say about this topic than any other, or so it seems.

Here are a few of my favorites:

"We can do no great things; only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa, Indian humanitarian (1910-1997) 

“Even when you’re really needy, you’ve got to give more than you receive.” - Christopher Reeve, American actor (1952-2004)

"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." - Dalai Lama, Tibetan religious leader (1935- )

"If we want a love message to be heard, it has to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it." - Mother Teresa, Indian humanitarian (1910-1997)

"Be generous! Give to those you love; give to those who love you; give to the fortunate; give to the unfortunate - yes, give especially to those you don't want to give to. You will receive abundance for your giving." - W. Clement Stone, American businessman (1902-2002)

If you've never seen "Pay it Forward," or even if you have, I highly recommend watching it. Even if you think it might break your heart. 

* * * * *

Obviously, the idea of "pay it forward" hasn't taken over the world, but these sites may be of interest:
Pay It Forward Foundation
Pay It Forward Movement

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .


deerelyea said...

Denny, I saw the movie years ago and found it very moving. I've since purchased it and recommended it to others.
I believe Compassion is the key to raising consciousness on the planet.
Thank you for sharing this and the weblinks. I'll definitely check them out and pass them along to others.

Kabolobari Benakole said...

I'm not a movie person, Dr Coates, but whatever you recommend is not to be missed.

My heart has grown fonder and fonder of the fondness I have let myself into with you, sir, and I'm most appreciative.

I consider it an assignment to see this movie and I'm gonna go get it. I'm sure it is what you say it is and shall ensure everyone see it.

Thanks and thanks again, Dr Coates.