Lifting Up Common Humanity with Lovingkindness and Compassion

🤗 Lifting Up Common Humanity with Lovingkindness and Compassion

Reaching out to others as we care for ourselves.

Suffering is universal. Yet even during the most difficult times, we are all part of a common humanity.

In a world filled with polarization – war and peace, love and hate, joy and sadness – lovingkindness and compassion matter now more than ever. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the strife and harsh rhetoric of our contemporary lives. Most of us have not learned to pay much attention to the quiet moments of lovingkindness, often unnoticed, that infuse our lives in sometimes subtle ways: a smile, an outstretched hand, someone letting your car in during traffic, a handshake, a greeting from a store clerk.

According to U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, MD, isolation and loneliness comprise a public health crisis that is harming our health and wellbeing as individuals and a nation (Murthy, 2023). He labels isolation and loneliness as an epidemic, an urgent public health concern with a mortality risk similar to smoking fifteen cigarettes per day (Murthy, 2023). Murthy recommends that our society shift toward creating a culture of greater connection, strengthening our relationships and rebuilding social bonds.

It’s easy to extend lovingkindness and compassion toward the people we like and much more difficult to respect and care about those we don’t know.

🌷 And how do we lift up love and compassion for those we don’t like?

During these difficult times, extending lovingkindness to all people can feel quite unsettling, and difficult to contemplate. Many spiritual traditions teach the idea of loving one’s neighbor as oneself as a core principle. These teachings invite us to consider that everything we do is to be done with lovingkindness. This does not mean feeling love only in the romantic sense. We too often limit love to hearts, flowers, and romance. This universal teaching expands the sense of love, respecting the humanity in everyone. To regard all other humans with compassion and an awareness that they too are part of the universality of timeless presence – whether we deem them as deserving or not – that we and all beings everywhere are part of a unity that interconnects us all.

💭 Where are you? How might you begin this process?

During these challenging times when so many are suffering in so many ways, it can be hard to hold on to the idea of acting toward each other, especially the more “difficult” people, with love of any kind. In my own experience, this often feels beyond my capacity. I’m grappling with – in the laboratory of my own experience – practicing compassion for the humanity in all humans, especially the “difficult” people.

Mindfulness practices can help. Many of us dabble in mindfulness. Marc Margolius (2018), suggests that we bring mindfulness into the flow of our day-to-day lives. This means acknowledging our feelings, even the challenging ones. Rather than trying to talk ourselves out of difficult feelings, we can mindfully notice them and let go of judgements about our natural reactions.

To begin doing this, we can practice softening our hearts. This kind of softening is about learning to ease our judgements about ourselves and others. I’m imperfect, you’re imperfect, but we’re all part of humanity. This awareness can create space to invite an inner softening, greater light and clarity. By learning to accept conflict and differences, we might notice spaciousness for common ground. And we don’t have to start with the hardest people. We can begin with people we don’t like or disagree with just a little bit. And then recognizing our shared humanity, we might learn to extend compassion toward ourselves and each other as we aspire to build bridges toward lovingkindness, greater understanding, and peace.

You may be familiar with lovingkindness meditation, which derives from a practice called Metta in Buddhist tradition (Salzberg, 2010). This practice can help us increase the experience of caring and open heartedness toward ourselves and others (Goleman & Davidson, 2017; Fredrickson, et al, 2008). Empirical research shows that lovingkindness meditation practice can increase our experience of positive emotions and personal resources (e.g., social support and living with purpose).

Lovingkindness meditation is simple and offers a pathway toward greater kindness and compassion for ourselves and others. When we practice, we are invited to contemplate warm and kind feelings first to ourselves and then to others, beginning with someone we already feel tenderness toward, for example, a child, other family members, or a close friend. Then when we’re ready (this may take moments, weeks, months, or longer), to extend caring feelings toward a widening circle of people, including people we have never met.

🌻 You may repeat several phrases which can vary by your choice. For example:
May I feel safe.
May I feel lovingkindness.
May I feel wholeness and peace.

🌞 Then when you’re ready, you might extend it outward:
May you feel safe.
May you feel lovingkindness.
May you feel wholeness and peace.

Our world has a lot of work to do to lift up our common humanity. No individual can do it alone. Investing in compassion and lovingkindness can strengthen our personal resilience and wellbeing, and extend outward to build social connections, social capital, and help transform ourselves and each other toward creating a more peaceful world.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No content is a substitute for consulting with a qualified mental health or healthcare professional.

© 2024 Ilene Berns-Zare, LLC, All Rights Reserved

Send your comments and suggestions to Ilene!
Click here 
to send Ilene an email with your thoughts about this blog post.


Flourish and Thrive: Navigating Transitions with Mindfulness and Resilience - IBZ Coaching

Ilene is a Featured Author on PsychologyToday!
Read her blog series Flourish and Thrive: Navigating transitions with mindfulness and resilience.

Ilene Berns-Zare - Life and Work Coach
Are you sharing compassion with others, and yourself?

Tap into your strengths, purpose, and potential to flourish in life and work.

If you’d like to discuss how Ilene Berns-Zare Coaching can help you achieve your goals, contact Ilene.

Coaching with Ilene Can Help You Call Yourself to Action

Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD, PCC, CEC, is an Executive and Personal Coach and Speaker. Ilene helps people live their best personal and professional lives by bringing mind, body, and spirit into flow with strengths, purpose, and potential. She inspires clients to find fresh perspectives and access their full potential as creative, resourceful, whole persons. Find Ilene online, set up a free discovery coaching consultation, and access free resources at

Please share this blog with anyone who might be interested in reading it!

We would love to hear from you! We are interested in your suggestions for this newsletter, your reactions to this one, or providing more information about coaching.