Compassion has two parts - feeling and action. One has to feel something in order to act. We cannot have compassion for something or someone if we do not see their suffering.
Compassion is not some passing emotion. It is rooted deep in the soul. It is a Christ-like characteristic that we inherit when we become sons and daughters of the Most High.
You can feel sorry for someone but not want to act on it. For example, you can see a town devastated by a tornado on the news and certainly feel sad for those affected. Taking it to the next level might be texting the Red Cross number and donating. But to feel real compassion, you must be so moved by the devastation and loss that you book the next flight to that state and jump right in serving and loving on people.
While that may be an extreme example, let's switch instead to everyday life.
You are in the grocery store. Ahead of you is a young, frazzled mom. It's 3pm and she is still in her slippers. The baby is screaming. Her two-year-old is running up and down the aisle screaming about Power Rangers. She's running her hands through her hair and looking desperate. Here is where compassion kicks in. You kneel down to her two-year-old and ask him if he loves Power Rangers as much as you do. Glance up at the mom and say, "Do you mind if I help you? I have little ones, too." You ask her how much shopping she has left to do. Walk through the store with her and by the time you reach the checkout she is smiling and ready to tackle the rest of her long day. You've made a new friend who is 2-years-old. You have encouraged a mom who was at her breaking point. You have loved on her with the love of Jesus and she might not even know it. What she does know is that someone cared. That's compassion.
When we take the focus off of our busy-ness and instead start looking around us to see if there is anyone who needs some compassion, then the real purpose of our lives begins to shine through. If you don't feel brave enough to help a person face-to-face yet then start small:
open a door for a stranger
pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru
pick up things that have fallen on the floor at the store and put them back
put someone's cart away for them in the parking lot
let someone go ahead of you in line at the checkout
These are all compassion builders. You have to start feeling for your fellow humans again. We have become so calloused and self-centered that we don't want to be bothered.
You've got to get bothered in order to get compassionate!