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10 Research-Based Reasons Compassion is Transformative

10 Research-Based Reasons Compassion is Transformative

“The formula for true success includes being consistent, courageous, clear, compassionate and focused.” ~ Helen MacMillan

Compassion may be the single most important attribute for achieving success and happiness in your life.

There are many research-based findings that bear this out. Here is what science has learned that backs up what we already know in our heart.

  1. Compassion makes us happy – as happy as receiving money!

Jordan Grafman, Neuroscientist at the National Institute of Health found that pleasure centers in the brain – (i.e. the parts of our brain that experience pleasure like money, sex and dessert) are equally active when we observe someone showing compassion as when we experience receiving money ourselves!

  1. Compassion makes us happier than spending money on ourselves.

It’s true – giving to others increases our feelings of well-being beyond spending money on ourselves!

Researchers at Harvard Business School found that people reported feeling “significantly happier” when they spent money on others than spending it on themselves. Even toddlers as young as two years old demonstrate increased happiness when giving a treat to others over receiving treats themselves.

  1. Compassion makes us more attractive to others.

Both men and women agree that a major secret to attractiveness is a kind heart. In a study on dating preferences, researchers found that one trait both genders agree on that is important in a life partner is kindness.

  1. Compassion is uplifting to those around us.

Why are people like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela so inspirational to us? Researchers at the University of Virginia have found that witnessing people helping others creates a feeling of “elevation.” Have you ever felt moved by seeing someone express love and compassion for someone else? This the feeling of “elevation” that inspires others to be helpful. Furthermore, the research indicates that being helpful can set off a chain reaction of giving.

  1. Compassion is contagious.

Social scientists James Fowler of UC San Diego and Nicolas Christakis of Harvard demonstrated that helping others influences others to be compassionate too. You may have been a recipient or seen news coverage of people paying for coffee or fees for the people behind them at a drive-through or tollbooth. People will keep the generosity going on for hours.

  1. Compassion improves our health and helps us live longer.

Helping others has been proven to contributing to our health, longevity and happiness. In a study of over 400 elderly people, a researcher at the University of Michigan found that people who helped others more often reported being happier, healthier and lived longer than others. The research showed that positive emotions and social connections have a positive and protective impact on health. In another study at Carnegie Mellon University people with more social connections were found to have a higher immunity level and are less likely to get sick.

  1. Compassion can help with depression.

Depression and anxiety are associated with a state of self-focus. When we practice compassion, we are taking the focus off of ourselves and placing our attention on the other person. Rather than feeling depressed, we begin to feel energized and, before you know it, you feel great!

  1. Compassion is a natural state of being.

Many spiritual traditions teach us that, at our core, we are loving, generous and kind. Research with infants back up these claims. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute have found that infants naturally respond with helpful behavior. Research at the Stanford Business school found that adults are also naturally wired to help others. The difference between children and adults is that adults will often hold back from expressing their natural tendency to be compassionate because they worry that others will think they are acting out of self-interest as opposed to being truly altruistic.

  1. Compassion gives us more time

That’s right! A recent study found that practicing compassion gives us a sense that we have more time in our lives. Cassie Mogilner of Wharton Business School examined the perception that people feel when wasting time, spending time on oneself or spending time on others. Interestingly, participants clearly felt they had more time when they spent time helping others, another way in which compassion makes us feel better.

  1. Compassion is good for everyone

Being kind, caring and empathetic to your neighbors, family, colleagues, clients, friends and even strangers you meet just makes sense. It’s not only good for you, but it’s good for our society, community and the world around us. And since compassion is contagious, why not spread it around wherever you go?

Do you think compassion helps you to be a happier, healthier person? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Source: Seppala, Emma. “10 (Science-Based) Reasons Why Compassion Is Hot.” The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, 27 June 2017, ccare.stanford.edu/the-huffington-post/10-science-based-reasons-why-compassion-is-hot/.

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