Compassion for a Cockroach

A few weeks ago I witnessed a beautiful encounter of compassion between our three year old Ethan, 20 month old Huw and a cockroach that I thought others may enjoy hearing.

On Friday morning, Ethan and Huw had woken up and we were taking the usual walk down a few stairs into the lounge when we saw a cockroach upside on the floor.

My natural instinct was to scoop it up and put it in the bin. Ethan and Huw however were very concerned that the cockroach wasn’t moving and Ethan said “Let’s make him happy again mummy’. How could I resist not trying to now save the cockroach?!

We scooped the coackroach up carefully (or bug as Huw was saying) and placed him / her on the side away from the floor. There was a bit of movement (which showed me the roach wasn’t dead) and then stillness again. Ethan then took a sultana left over from a snack the night before and put it next to the cockroach as he said the bug might be hungry.

Huw was chanting “happy bug, happy bug” when my husband Owain came home from his gym session. We then moved the cockroach outside to see if there was enough strength for it to run into the wild. There was not much movement and Ethan wanted to put his blanket over the cockroach as it was cold and share his toy cars. Eventually the bug managed to move away back into the wild.

I was very touched by this natural act of compassion from the boys and it made me think how I’d really like to cultivate this as they grow and develop further.

Some people may wonder the difference between compassion and empathy. I like the distinction that empathy is walking in other’s shoes and then compassion is empathy into action.

This example of the boys and the cockroach made me realise that small daily acts of compassion in any facet of our lives can help inspire others to be more compassionate.

Earlier in the week I’d ironically listened to an Oprah Soulful Conversation (thanks for the recommendation Simone!) with Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linked In on the theme of compassionate leadership. Oprah shared she thinks Jeff is the leader to inspire compassion to be taught as mainstream in schools which I think would be fantastic. I know mindfulness practice in schools is now getting a lot of traction globally. It was great recently to see yoga postures being encouraged at Ethan’s daycare and breathing exercises. My sister who is a primary school shared how a quiet minute can make wonders to settle the children down too. How great for compassion to be an extension of this.

In the podcast interview which I highly recommend for anyone interested in this area, Jeff talks about leading compassionately and his journey to being a better human through meeting his wife.

He shared some thoughts on happiness from advice he received from his mentor Ray Chambers, a Wall Street giant who later walked away from financial success to study happiness and pursue a life of philanthropy.

Ray’s five principles of happiness that Jeff relayed were:

  1. Being in the moment
  2. It’s better to be loving than to be right.
  3. Be a spectator to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional, which is fundamental to compassion.
  4. Be grateful for at least one thing every day.
  5. Be of service to others, to help others every chance you get.

I thought this was a beautiful packaging of life lessons linking in compassion and a good way to finish this post.

Love to any thoughts and compassion stories from others.

2 Comments on “Compassion for a Cockroach

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