I read a magazine article today that encouraged practicing compassion. The author noted that although he believed we all had compassion in our hearts, it takes practice to truly use this spiritual gift. I love this concept and just happened to have recently made the same connection in a presentation called "The Art of Joyful Living".
It makes perfect sense to me that to get really good at something, you need to practice it. This is true with playing an instrument, singing, dancing, painting and just about anything else where we have a desire to create and perform at our best.
Compassion, as well as other gifts that may be under-used are love, joy, understanding, peace, patience and forgiveness. I suppose many of us are not practicing using these spiritual gifts since we are distracted by some negative things in our lives that demand our negative attention.
Ironic, isn't it, that most of us are well practiced in being stressed, frustrated, holding negative judgments, resentments and even anger, yet these elements are not part of our spiritual make-up? They tend to be part of our reaction to life rather than a response to living.
I've learned in my own life that whatever I focus on dominates my experience of living. If I focus on being victimized or resentful, the emotions I feel will not be very enjoyable. If I get hooked by the negative actions of others and practice feeling angry, then naturally my natural spiritual gifts of love, peace, compassion and forgiveness will not be felt or enjoyed.
Although being angry can often be justified and we can strongly defend our right to fight, what is also true is that when we demand to be "right" and insisting on someone else's suffering, we will always sacrifice peace.
I know it's not easy, but for me, living in a state of joy and peace with compassion and love are worth the practice.