We used to talk about big love and true love, yet we frequently forget that situational, compassionate, and caring love is also love, something like “small love” or a small action of love. This kind of love seems to be omnipotent in our lives, but it isn’t. However, it seems that we have no time for love and compassion.
The compassionate and caring thoughts and actions of small love help the well-being of another person. This kind of small love puts the other person’s well-being first, even in small, everyday situations.
“Small love” even means occasional actions of care and help to our neighbor or another person we encounter in everyday situations. “Small love” also means not being a “bystander” when another person is in need.
There Is No Time for Anything, even for Compassion
With life moving faster than ever, we have a lack of time for many things, sometimes even for love.
Nowadays, a lack of time is one of the biggest problems for our interpersonal connections, friendship, and love. We often experience a “time famine” because we often have too much to do and not enough time to do it.
We can’t connect because we don’t have time or because we think we don’t have time.
We strive to prioritize time when deciding what to do—one task or another. We try to select the value of a job, personal life, and relationships. Another dilemma is whether to accomplish a task well or spend time helping others. Hunger, fatigue, and injury are some of the other factors that influence how compassionate we are willing to be, but time is the most valuable resource today.
This is a particularly difficult problem in medicine: healthcare clinics are so understaffed that employees believe they cannot adequately care for even one patient, let alone all of them.
Compassion for a Patient
Modern medical doctors often complain that they do not have the time to interact compassionately with patients. In one study, 56% said that they lack the time to treat patients with compassion.
It’s important to note that our subjective experience of a “time famine” rather than an objective scarcity of time often motivates this mentality. If you want to establish a fast connection, you need to overcome that perception.
Teaching Medical Doctors “Small Love”
Can we teach physicians how to show compassion even with a shortage of time? A study conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health showed that it is possible.
Here is a script that cancer doctors can use to bookend their patient encounters.
“At the start of the appointment, the oncologists say, “I know this is a tough experience to go through and I want you to know that I am here with you. Some of the things that I say to you today may be difficult to understand, so I want you to feel comfortable stopping me if I say something that is confusing or doesn’t make sense. We are here together, and we will go through this together.”
Then, at the end of the appointment, the doctors said: “I know this is a tough time for you, and I want to emphasize again that we are in this together. I will be with you each step along the way.”
Patients whose doctors shared these words with them perceived their doctors as more friendly, compassionate, and caring. Perhaps more importantly, these patients have significantly lower anxiety levels than patients whose doctors did not say these words.
Does Compassion Matter?
The point of this study was not to show that kindness and compassion matter. It was to show how quickly you can show compassion and care for a patient. The average time it took to read the script was only forty seconds. However, each patient felt a lot less anxious after reading just 99 words.