The Science of Compassion

In July 2012 researchers studying the science of compassion gathered in Colorado to discuss new discoveries about how and why humans help each other.  In her article for The Greater Good, Simon-Thomas summarizes three key points from the conference.

First, in order to maximize compassion it helps to feel safe and secure – physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially. 

Second, mindfulness – the moment-to-moment awareness of your body and thoughts – is a common tool taught in compassion training programs.  The opposite ‘mindwandering’ – automatic thoughts which generate worry – e.g., “woulda, coulda, shoulda”, “if only”, “what if…” – are likely to decrease happiness. 

Third, apparently brains find it more valuable – and rewarding – to do what’s in the interest of the group than to do what’s most profitable for the individual.

Finally, according to keynote speaker – Richie Davidson – philosophical thought and current research suggests that compassion is both fundamental and beneficial to human survival. 

The article has two embedded videos which feature presenters from the conference.

Read the article

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty ~ Albert Einstein


Dr. Martin Phillips-Hing s a registered psychologist in private practice in Langley, BC.


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