What is Compassion?

Compassion is a sensitivity to the suffering of self and others with a commitment to try to prevent and relieve it (Gilbert, 2017). A compassionate awareness involves recognizing pain as part of the human experience and aspiring to alleviate it. Compassion is comprised of multiple attributes and skills, and research consistently shows that compassionate motives organize the mind in ways that promote flourishing, connectedness, and well-being.

We can be compassionate toward other people; we can be open and receptive to compassion from other people toward us; and we can learn to be compassionate toward ourselves. Paul Gilbert, Ph.D., a leading researcher in the science of compassion, has shown that when we are in the flow of compassion (feeling it toward others; receiving it from others; and generating it toward ourselves) we become oriented toward caring, responsive and engaged behavior, all of which are essential in healthy relationships.

Depending on your life experience, you may believe that compassion is a weakness, an indulgence, or even foolish. Research indicates otherwise; overwhelming evidence suggests compassion is vital to good health.

If you would like to learn more about Paul Gilbert’s research, please visit compassionatemind.co.uk