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
- Paul Gilbert, Ph.D., Choden (2014), Mindful Compassion: How the Science of Compassion Can Help You Understand Your Emotions, Live in the Present, and Connect Deeply with Others
- Paul Gilbert, Ph.D. “How to Turn Your Brain from Anger to Compassion.” Greater good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. September 4, 2013. Web. September 4, 2013.
- Paul Gilbert, Ph.D. (2010), The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges
- Irons, Chris and Beaumont, Elaine (2017), The Compassionate Mind Workbook: A step-by-step guide to developing your compassionate self
- Keltner, Marsh, Smith The Compassionate Instinct: the science of human goodness. (2010)
- The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford School of Medicine