Written by Sara from Institute of HeartMath.
com•pas•sion: noun \kəm-ˈpa-shən\ a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.
We reach out to those in pain, take in stray animals and dash off our checks to help strangers suffering across the globe. Humans are compassionate toward those in need. In fact, considerable scientific research suggests, we may actually be compelled to be compassionate.
“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” – Nelson Mandela
The Instinct for Compassion
That humans are instinctively compassionate is a viewpoint that has been expressed, hypothesized and tested in multiple studies over the last two decades. Some of this research is referenced in the widely circulated article, The Compassionate Instinct, by UC Berkeley Psychology Professor Dacher Keltner. He cited different studies that showed similar neurological reactions in mothers seeing pictures of their own or others’ babies and subjects asked to think about people being harmed.
The neurological reactions occurred in areas of the brain associated with positive emotions, said Keltner, founding faculty director of the school’s Greater Good Science Center.
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