A Look at the Evolution of Compassion

We have shared much this month on compassion that I thought you might find this evolution of compassion video fascinating. I stumbled upon it as I was reading an article in The Greater Good Science Center’s magazine titled Compassion: Defined. This article is broken down into three sections: What is Compassion? Why Practice It? How Do We Cultivate It?

The article shares this as part of their explanation of compassion: “While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started 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 down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, caregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people.” Hopefully that is enough evidence to convince you to lead a more compassionate life.

Wondering how to go about that? Check out the practical strategies offered here taken from Greater Good article’s section on How Do We Cultivate It?:

  • Feeling supported: Think about the people you turn to when you’re distressed and recall times when you’ve felt comforted by them, which research says can help us to feel more compassionate toward others.
  • Compassion meditation: Cultivate compassion toward a loved one, yourself, a neutral person, and even an enemy..
  • Put a human face on suffering: When reading the news, look for profiles of specific individuals and try to imagine what their lives have been like.
  • Eliciting altruism: Create reminders of connectedness.