What Is Compassion?


Compassion literally means “suffering together”. Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when confronted with another person’s suffering and motivated to alleviate that suffering. Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, although the concepts are related. While empathy generally refers to our ability to take another person’s perspective and feel their emotions, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include a desire to help. Compassion without acting, and altruism is not always motivated by compassion.

While cynics may dismiss compassion as sentimental or irrational, scientists have begun to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows, we release the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and brain regions associated with empathy, caring, and joy light up, often resulting in our desire to reach out to ourselves to take care of others.

Self Compassion

Self-compassion means being just as caring and understanding as you would a good friend when you’re going through a hard time, failure, or noticing something you don’t like about yourself.

Self-compassion means treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who is going through a difficult time, even if your friend has screwed up or is feeling inadequate or just facing a difficult life challenge. As a self-compassion researcher and the first to define the term academically, describes self-compassion with three elements.

  • Being kind to yourself or avoiding harsh criticism of yourself.
  • Acknowledging your humanity, or the fact that all humans are imperfect, and all humans experience pain.
  • Mindfulness, or maintaining an unbiased awareness of experiences, even those that are painful, rather than ignoring or exaggerating their impact.

Embrace Compassion in your life

Embrace compassion in your life and pass that righteousness on to your children. Compassion begins with looking within. By finding the opportunity to discover your own feelings and reactions to life changing situations and developing a confidence in yourself that is better prepared to feel sympathy for other people. You can help your children in this way by helping them understand how they feel when people act a certain way towards them.

Give your kid’s opportunities to connect with people from the Horde Foundations. Get your kids and whole family involved in local projects and chores that show them a little more about what the world is like outside your home. Compassion requires activity. It’s far from an experience that can basically be mastered by watching. While you can and should show empathy at home, give your children ways to show empathy effectively.

Train them to see things from the perspective of others, and then practice sympathy and empathy. One of the most sensible ways to show compassion is towards creatures. The creatures cannot bear their feelings or verbally express their pain. A child dealing with a living being needs to learn empathy. If you can’t keep an animal at home, have your child contribute to a nearby animal shelter or help out on a ranch to learn empathy for the animals that live there.

Source: Greater Good Magazine; gostrengths.com

Photo: BetterHelp


Leave a Reply