02 Jan

45 Quotes on Compassion


Compassion is a big part of our work here at Self Led Life, so we thought we would share some quotes that guide, support and contribute to our work.

We recommend grabbing a notepad and pen, sitting somewhere comfortable and quiet, and spending some time reading these and make a note of anything that comes to mind.

” A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life. “

Chris Germe

“ Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. ”

Pema Chödrön

“ Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. ”

Dalai Lama

” As I get older, the more I stay focused on the acceptance of myself and others, and choose compassion over judgment and curiosity over fear. “

Tracee Ellis Ross

” Mindfulness is an act of hospitality. A way of learning to treat ourselves with kindness and care that slowly begins to percolate into the deepest recesses of our being while gradually offering us the possibility of relating to others in the same manner…. 

[The] process simply asks us to entertain the possibility of offering hospitality to ourselves no matter what we are feeling or thinking. 

This has nothing to do with denial or self-justification for unkind or undesirable actions, but it has everything to do with self-compassion when facing the rough, shadowy, difficult, or uncooked aspects of our lives. “

Saki Santorelli

” People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. “

Maya Angelou

” Sometimes when I meet old friends, it reminds me how quickly time passes. And it makes me wonder if we’ve utilized our time properly or not.

Proper utilization of time is so important. While we have this body, and especially this amazing human brain, I think every minute is something precious.

Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. There is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time we will be here. But we are working for that purely on the basis of hope. So, we need to make the best use of our time.

I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy.

So, let us reflect what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. The purpose of our life needs to be positive. We weren’t born with the purpose of causing trouble, harming others.

For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities — warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful — happier. “

Dalai Lama

” The challenge here is to recognize the importance of kindness and affection and place them at the centre of our relationship with ourselves, with others and with the world. So ask yourself: Have you really put warmth, gentleness, kindness, support and compassion at the centre of how you relate to yourself and the way in which you try to help yourself through life’s tragedies? Have you put those qualities at the centre of your relationships with others, even people you don’t like very much? “

Paul A. Gilbert

“ If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ”

Dalai Lama

” Openness doesn’t come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well. We can’t cultivate fearlessness without compassionate inquiry into the workings of ego. So we ask ourselves, 

“What happens when I feel I can’t handle what’s going on?
What are the stories I tell myself?
What repels me and what attracts me?
Where do I look for strength and in what do I place my trust? “

Pema Chodron

” The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter. “

Norman Cousins

“ Look for a way to lift someone up. And if that is all you do, that’s enough. ”

Elizabeth Lesser

” When we confront suffering, our hearts are asking us to take that seat directly in the center of suffering. We meet it at the point of our own discomfort.

Sometimes discomfort is where the true lessons are. That’s where we meet our edge — and sometimes go beyond it.

There’s liberation there. Maybe we meet our edge with a quivering heart. Aversion, ignorance, and greed exist when we only see what our heart-minds want to see. We all experience suffering.

The essential element of our heart’s movement towards clarity is seeing what is, but seeing it with softening the heart — taking away the hardness that conditions in our society have put upon us, allowing our hearts to be sensitive, pure.

To be in the landscape of suffering without creating the unnecessary narrative that supports turning away, pity, or detachment. Softening our hearts in a hardened world requires the cultivation of compassion and action.”

Noliwe Alexander

“ It’s hard to practice compassion when we’re struggling with our authenticity or when our own worthiness is off-balance. ”

Brene Brown

” A growing body of neuroscientific research indicates that compassion is a naturally occurring trait. But the circumstances of our busy lives and lack of training in how to cultivate compassion can make it difficult for us to access it.

Mindfulness helps us reconnect with this inner resource so that we may offer it to others who need assistance. Through mindfulness, we can also develop self-compassion so that we don’t crash and burn from our attempts to help another.

Brenda Salgado

” Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. “

Nelson Mandela  

“ Compassion is a practically acquired knowledge, like dancing. You must do it and practice diligently day by day. ”

Karen Armstrong

“ Compassion is an action word with no boundaries. ”


” It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives. ”

Marianne Williamson

” Compassion is not logical. It’s basically spacious and generous.

A compassionate person might not be sure whether they are being compassionate to you or whether you are being compassionate to them, because compassion creates a total environment of generosity.

Generosity just happens, rather than you making it happen. It’s just there, without direction, without me, without “for them.” It’s full of joy, a spontaneously existing grin of joy, constant joy. “

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

” When we’re looking for compassion, we need someone who is deeply rooted, is able to bend and, most of all, embraces us for our strengths and struggles. “

Brene Brown

” Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. “

Nelson Mandela  

” It is only when compassion is present that people allow themselves to see the truth. “

A.H. Almaas

” Self-compassion plays such an important role in healing ourselves.

So many of us are living with inner wounds and scars. We wear masks that hide our hurts – terrified of showing up in vulnerability, we feel unsafe in close relationships, leaving the ones who love us, confused at our behaviour.

If we do not find a way to heal our inner wounds, we may spend the rest of our lives either looking for what we need (and should give to ourselves) in every new partner, or close friend, or we end up projecting the feelings and hurts that were caused by those unhealed wounds, onto others.

We have no control over our past, and scars might be there forever. There is no shame in a scar. It shows you survived but know this: you are worth all the love that you have within yourself. Rub kindness into your wounds and sing a love song over all your hurts, and all your fears. Pour grace over yourself like water. This is how we heal. “

Liezel Graham

“ Let our hearts be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. ”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“ I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness. ”

Mother Teresa

” We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion….

This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine, or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need.

So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy. “

Dalai Lama

“ Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion. ”

Jack Kornfield

” Receiving kindness, gentleness, warmth and compassion tells the brain that the world is safe and other people are helpful rather than harmful.

Receiving kindness, gentleness, warmth and compassion improves our immune system and reduces the levels of stress hormones.

Receiving kindness, gentleness, warmth and compassion helps us to feel soothed and settled and is conducive to good sleep.

Kindness, gentleness, warmth and compassion are like basic vitamins for our minds. “

Paul A. Gilbert

“ Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves. ”

Pema Chodron

” Mindfulness not only makes it possible to survey our internal landscape with compassion and curiosity but can also actively steer us in the right direction for self-care. “

Bessel van der Kolk

” Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival. “

Dalai Lama

“ Where there is no human connection, there is no compassion. Without compassion, then community, commitment, loving-kindness, human understanding, and peace all shrivel. Individuals become isolated, the isolated turn cruel, and the tragic hovers in the forms of domestic and civil violence. ”

Susan Vreeland

” To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. “

Howard Zinn

“ There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate. ”

Robert Frost

“ A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ”

Albert Einstein

” By developing a relationship with the painful parts of ourselves – parts we have often inherited from our family – we have an opportunity to shift them.

Qualities like cruelty can become the source of our kindness; our judgments can forge the foundation of our compassion. “

Mark Wolynn

” When compassion wakes up in us, we find ourselves more willing to become vulnerable, to take the risk of entering the pain of others. ”

Sue Monk Kidd

” The more traumas are treated and cleared in the individual, the more there is this opening of awareness, of inner space, of the capacity to have compassion for all of our parts. “

Lissa Rankin

” Being cut off from our own natural self-compassion is one of the greatest impairments we can suffer. Along with our ability to feel our own pain go our best hopes for healing, dignity and love.

What seems nonadaptive and self-harming in the present was, at some point in our lives, an adaptation to help us endure what we then had to go through.

If people are addicted to self-soothing behaviours, it’s only because in their formative years they did not receive the soothing they needed. Such understanding helps delete toxic self-judgment on the past and supports responsibility for the now. Hence the need for compassionate self-inquiry. “

Gabor Maté

“ In compassion, when we feel with the other, we dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and we put another person there. ”

Karen Armstrong

“ Strength and compassion are not mutually exclusive. ”

Robert Kiyosaki

“ Compassion is a verb. ”

Thich Nhat Hanh

” To embrace suffering culminates in greater empathy, the capacity to feel what it is like for the other to suffer, which is the ground for unsentimental compassion and love. ”

Stephen Batchelor

“ When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives. ”

Kristin Neff

“ We all have the seeds of compassion, forgiveness, joy, and non-fear in us. If we’re constantly trying to avoid suffering, there is no way for these seeds to grow. ”

Thich Nhat Hanh


  1. Darren (Duxy)
    2 January 2021

    I look forward to reading these, again again and again.
    Thank you.

    • stephen
      2 January 2021

      Thank you Darren – enjoy!


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