We've all heard things like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “It’s better to give than receive,” and of course the classic, “Mean people suck.” But did you know there are actually measurable health benefits to being compassionate and kind?
It's true. In fact, compassion has been proven so beneficial that actual programs exist called “compassion training.” As CNN reports, these programs involve intensive exercises in mindfulness, with the goal being to provide a framework for compassion in participants. Everyone from soldiers to school children to the Chicago Cubs have practiced some form of compassion training. The results have lead to things like being more resilient and experiencing less stress.
What qualifies as compassion? When translated literally, compassion means, “to suffer together.” It’s similar to empathy, but not quite the same thing. Where empathy is the ability to share in someone’s feelings, compassion has the added element of wanting to alleviate another person’s pain. Essentially, compassion is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and going, “Oh, these shoes hurt. Let’s find you less painful shoes.”
Some psychologists say the desire to take care of each other is one of the defining characteristics of being human. There is certainly a greater feeling of being connected to our humanity when we receive compassion from another person. But because it’s always better to give than to receive (scientifically speaking), here are seven ways showing compassion makes you a happier, healthier person.