According to the Greater Good Science Center “compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.”
The practice of compassion is about connection. It’s about feeling into someone’s story and feeling compelled to take action, to make a difference and to witness their suffering.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~ Dalai Lama
- Research shows that practicing compassion makes us feel good and that creates lasting changes in the brain that makes us happier overall.
- Several studies have shown the health benefits of practicing gratitude including, reducing our risk of heart disease, lowering stress hormones and improving our immune function.
- Research shows that compassion has a positive impact on our important relationships leaving us feeling more optimistic, supported and satisfied while making us less vindictive.
The Greater Good Science Center explains, “being compassionate can improve health, well-being, and relationships. Many scientists believe that compassion may even be vital to the survival of our species, and they’re finding that its advantages can be increased through targeted exercises and practice.”
Practice Mindfulness – Mindfulness is a foundational practice and has been found to have numerous benefits. Among these benefits it has been shown to help us expand our ability to be compassionate.
See Self as Similar – Spend time thinking about those around you and the similarities you share? What values, hobbies, or life experiences do you have in common?
What is Support – Think of a situation where someone showed you compassion in your time of need. What did they do? What did they say? How did you feel? Take a moment and jot down your thoughts. How can this experience help you to be more compassionate in the future.
Be of Service – Serving others is a powerful way to connect with your compassion. There are many ways to be of service including, small daily acts of kindness and larger community efforts.