Finding Compassion




How many times have you watched people on a city street or observed someone in a doctor’s office, and wondered what their thoughts were?

I often try to see beyond a person’s expression. When I notice a sad face, I feel the energy of loss or grief. When I catch a smile, I smile back, wondering if the person just finished a good conversation with a friend, or was reminiscing over last night’s date. When I see wonder light up another person’s eyes, I give thanks for innocence. 

The multiple faces of emotions are a marvel.

I encourage you to watch this YouTube video on compassion, created by the Cleveland Clinic. Some of you may recall that my husband, Paul, had his heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. My friend, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom, recently sent it to me.


The video reminds me to tread lightly when entering someone else’s emotional or physical space. We see others, but do we really see what’s going on inside? Would we interact with them differently if we could? To me, compassion is about looking through the eyes of the heart.

Henry David Thoreau poses the question, too: “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

May you find your own ways to see beyond the surface.

What does compassion mean to you?
What does it feel like to look into another’s face and try to feel what they are feeling?

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23 Responses to Finding Compassion

  1. Rebecca Weil says:

    Eileen, this is a wonderful video, thank you for sharing it. I will be passing it along.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Dear Rebecca, I’m embarrassed that I only now saw your comment – 7 months later! This was such an unusual year. I’m glad you enjoyed the video. hugs. Eileen

  2. Barb B says:

    What a powerful video. Thank you for sharing it.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      You are welcome! Sorry these comments somehow got lost to me until now. All the best, Eileen

  3. Steven Locke says:

    Loved the video. Will pass it along…

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      So glad you enjoyed it. Aren’t you coming skiing soon? We’d love to see you if we are here. All best, Eileen

  4. Phyll says:

    One of the most sensitive and touching videos I’ve ever seen. Thank you for sharing it, Eileen. Compassion, to me, means respect and acceptance of a person, pet, critter or any living being for who they are AS they are. When I look into the eyes of a person or furry friend, I see a soul sister (or brother); someone who is sharing the Earth with me, now, at this moment. Over millennia of time, we both happen to be right here, right now. That, in itself, is a miracle deserving of compassion, empathy, understanding and love.

  5. Chris C says:

    It was amazing how you could remember almost all the stories of each of the people when you saw them again at the end of the video. What impact personla stories have on us! Thank you, Eileen, for sharing!

    • Deenie says:

      I agree Chris! And thanks for sharing this, Eileen. You touched our hearts today 🙂

      • eileenrockefeller says:

        Hi Deenie, you may have forgotten this video by now, but thanks for your comment in July! I was just moving to my summer residence and somehow forgot to look who wrote, until very recently. I hope you’re enjoying the snow!

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      You may have forgotten the video by now because you saw it about 7 months ago! But thank you for writing then. I just looked at it again and it had the same effect. All the best, Eileen

  6. Steve Kieselstein says:

    Simply brilliant, Eileen.

    Many of the hallways, waiting room chairs, and other sights and circumstances portrayed in the video were intimately and vividly familiar to me from the weeks I spent at the Clinic with my late wife Michele two years ago. Compassion would definitely be a lot easier if people’s troubles and feelings somehow floated in text above them, but my experience from the hundreds of kindnesses we received and tried to reciprocate while there is that true compassion is almost always within reach when we watch and listen more mindfully to one another. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I can imagine many of those places were familiar to you Steve, as they were to me when we were back there last week. I’m glad you enjoyed the video. — Warmly, Eileen

  7. This was very powerful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. Ellie Byers says:

    Absolutely magnificent! Touched my heart very deeply. What a special place the Cleveland Clinic is for showing this side of medical care! Thank you so much, Eileen, for sharing this with all of us.

  9. crea lintilhac says:

    Thanks for the video Eileen. It’s often not easy to take the time to really see one another. The ability to relax, take a moment and empathize with life’s circumstances and each other would bring a lot more love and gratitude into our lives

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I agree with you Crea. Yet, I see how hard it is to really know what’s going on inside anyone else. I guess the key is, as you say, taking a moment to look. Thanks for writing. I just returned from the Cleveland Clinic 3 days ago for Paul’s check up. He’s doing great. I’ll be writing about it for next Tuesday. Warmly, Eileen

  10. Mary R. Morgan says:

    Great work Eileen . Such a powerful touching video too.
    Love, cousin Mary

  11. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Hi Eileen, Thanks for sharing the video. Yes, compassion is a BIG word and those who incorporate compassion into life have a big heart. To dream about a truly compassionate
    society leaves me feeling kinder, warmer, more hopeful and stronger than to see it “the other way
    around”. When I walk down the hall to visit my doctor at a “SATELLITE” site of Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania, I am awed by the colorful artistic paintings on the walls painted by members of the Delaware Art League. Many of the artists are ordinary people who have expressed a feeling, thought, idea on a canvas,

    The trustees of the hospital understand how uplifting these paintings are to all who visit.
    These small examples of compassion provide hope, too.

  12. eileenrockefeller says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. It really does make a difference to have art on the hospital walls. I was just in Cleveland this past week and took some pictures of their art. I’ll be writing about my trip for this coming Tuesday. Stay posted! All best, Eileen

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