“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama
On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate our love for others through gifts, flowers, or other expressions of our feelings. Daily, we may observe acts of love and compassion, but not fully appreciate how important these traits are to our feelings of fulfillment and belonging. We are fortunate to work in an environment that celebrates the human-animal bond, which at its core is a mutually beneficial relationship between animals and people, reflected in emotional, psychological, and physical interactions. Scientific research has verified the physiologic effects on both pet parents and dogs who are bonded. Anyone who has been emotionally touched by their pets understands the depths of our love for animals.
Dean Lairmore surrounded by students at the Knights Landing One Health clinic.
We extend our compassion to our community in a variety of outreach programs such as our student-run Mercer and Knights Landing Clinics. These clinics provide healthcare for pets of those in need, but who lack adequate resources. I recently visited our Knights Landing One Health Clinic on a busy Sunday morning. The clinic was a hub of activity with more than thirty students, volunteers, and clients gathered in the local community center. The compassion and dedication of our students was on full display as they interviewed clients and examined anxious pets on make-shift exam tables. Our students’ desire to serve the underserved of our society is a clear expression of their humanity.
Another form of compassion is expressed for our co-workers in their times of need. We express sympathy towards our co-workers following the loss of a family member or in times of severe stress. In addition, while less obvious, we show we care in small acts of daily kindness. The affirmative effects of kindness are experienced in the giver and to those that witness the act of kindness, spreading good feelings and positively influencing the work environment. As we envision our future, we must acknowledge the importance of compassion in solidifying the bonds between us that bring satisfaction in our work and warmth to our souls.
Compassion and love do not always extend to others, but may be just as important when inwardly directed. We must also forgive ourselves and have sympathy for our faults. We need to be aware of our own feelings to be in touch with our thoughts and moods. Self-awareness and the ability to forgive ourselves promote positive feelings and improves our resilience to life’s demands. Taking the time to pause our lives for health and wellness serves to bring self-compassion into our daily routines. When love and compassion become incorporated into our habits, we view them not as isolated gestures, but vital components to our productivity, and critical to our work satisfaction.