COMPASSION AND HAPPINESS

Compassion, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. When we experience compassion, we create activity shifts in our brain that are associated with resiliency and well-being. At the National Institute of Health, Jordan Grafman, conducted a brain-imaging study that demonstrated the pleasure centers in our brain (parts of our brains that are active when we experience pleasure from things such as yummy foods, money, sex) were just as active when observing people giving money to charity as when receiving money for themselves. Happiness stems from compassion because it contributes to broadening our perspective beyond ourselves. When we focus on others and perhaps helping them, our attention shifts from our own issues. This shift in attention can improve our mood and may also lend insight into our own situation. Acts of compassion can be done for those you know, those you do not know, the Earth, or even for yourself!