On Compassion and its Benefits
A man and a young teenage boy checked into a hotel and were shown to their room. The receptionist noted the quiet manner of the guests and the pale appearance of the boy. Later, the man and boy ate dinner in the hotel restaurant.
The staff again noticed that the two guests were very quiet and that the boy seemed disinterested in his food.
After eating, the boy went to his room and the man went to ask the receptionist to see the manager. The receptionist initially asked if there was a problem with the service or the room and offered to fix things, but the man said that there was no problem of the sort and repeated his request.
When the manager appeared, he took him aside and explained that he was spending the night in the hotel with his fourteen-year-old son, who was seriously ill, probably terminally so. The boy was very soon to undergo therapy, which would cause him to lose his hair. They had come to the hotel to have a break together and also because the boy planned to shave his head that night, rather than feel that the illness was beating him. The father said that he would be shaving his own head too, in support of his son.
He asked that staff be respectful when the two of them came to breakfast with their shaved heads.
The manager assured the father that he would inform all staff and that they would behave appropriately.
The following morning the father and son entered the restaurant for breakfast. There they saw the four male restaurant staff attending to their duties, perfectly normally, all with shaved heads.
“True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.” — Daniel Goleman
The happenings everywhere can be overwhelming and convince us that there is little good left in the world. But if we take it upon ourselves to show compassion, even in little ways, we can make a tremendous impact in the lives of others.
Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
No matter what business we are in, we can help people and we can make a difference. There is no substitute for kindness and even one small compassionate act goes a long way. Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates an endless ripple.
“Our human compassion binds us 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
“Humanity’s collective mission in the cosmos lies in the practice of compassion.” — Dalsaku Ikeda
Scientific research suggests that practising compassion benefits our health.
1) Protects from stress
A 2010 study from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology indicates that participants who showed more compassion also showed lower blood pressure, heart rate and levels of cortisol in comparison to less compassionate counterparts.
2) Faster recovery from disease
Researchers Ed Diner and Martin Seligman, who specialize in positive psychology, suggest that in order to benefit from better mental health, increased physical health and a faster recovery from disease, we must connect with others in a meaningful way.
3) Decreases cellular inflammation levels
Enriching our lives with greater meaning and compassionate service can make us healthier than those whose happiness stems from a hedonistic lifestyle, according to researchers Barbara Frederickson and Steve Cole.
4) Good for psychological health
From a neurological standpoint, a compassionate lifestyle yields greater psychological health, as the act of giving appears to be as pleasurable as the activity of receiving. It turns out, our brain’s pleasure centers are equally as active when we enjoy money and dessert as when we show compassion.
5) Increases lifespan
Research at the University of Michigan and Stony Brook University reveals that a compassionate lifestyle can help us live longer.
6) One feels good about oneself
According to University of Michigan researchers, volunteers are more likely to benefit from a compassionate lifestyle if their reasons were less self-serving and more altruistic. Do good deeds with the right intent and you’ll feel for others and better about yourself.
“Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” — Anonymous