Erica Desai is a healthcare worker in North Carolina. She is a volunteer at BAPS, a spiritual, volunteer-driven organization that is committed to making society a better place, by fostering the Hindu ideals of selfless service, faith, and unity.
She has been known as a kind and compassionate person, even when she was a child growing up. She says that by caring for others, she is also caring for herself. “When we feel compassion for other people, I think we feel better,” she says. “That has certainly been my experience. “We all want to be loved. But it’s the loving that really makes us feel good. And one of the things that helps us feel more love for others is doing kind and compassionate things for them.”
Erica Desai says that she has learned there is actually a science behind why we feel compassion for other people. Researchers have found that peoples’ sense of compassion increases when they have something in common with the person they are feeling compassion toward. “So, if you mind makes an association between you and, say, a victim, the compassion that we feel is greatly amplified,” she says.
Erica Desai says that in her opinion, there are things that people can try to make themselves become more compassionate. At the top of the list is being a better listener. “I think people are too quick to formulate replies to others. Even when someone is talking, you’re coming up with a reply. Instead, just listen. Suspend judgment, give the other person your undivided attention, and let them talk.”
She also says that when you’re talking to someone who is feeling negative, remember the whole person. “Don’t lose sight of their positive qualities. And remember, too, that suffering is universal; we all feel joy and we all feel pain. Only the details are different.”