Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
Compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and thoughts include the desire to help. Altruism, in turn, is the kind, selfless behavior often prompted by feelings of compassion, though one can feel compassion without acting on it, and altruism isn’t always motivated by compassion.
While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, care giving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people.
Importance of compassion
Compassion has an impact not only on the societal level, but also on a personal level: it forms kinder people. The admittance that you don’t know what is going on in everyone’s life and as such should give them the benefit of the doubt is at the basis of compassion and the stem of kind actions. Compassion is being part of everyone’s support network. Not necessarily a big part; a compassionate person can make someone’s day by complimenting them or offering them a smile. Leo Buscaglia once said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” A compassionate life is one in which you live like that every day; when you look at every person as someone who needs those little actions. Another reason why compassion helps people lead fulfilling lives is because compassion in its basic components is simply caring deeply about something or someone. Caring deeply about something gives your life purpose and use. A life full of love and deep relationships with people and activities you care a lot about is more fulfilling than one in which you breeze by life without caring deeply about anything. That empathy and thoughtfulness that compassion provides is rewarding and helps you think about and appreciate every aspect of your life more deeply. Compassion also helps a person fulfill a life that matters because it gives perspective to her own life and troubles. It makes you less self-absorbed and more focused on society and your role in it. Compassion can make you happier and can help you leave a positive mark on the world. Everyone deserves compassion because every life matters. And that is why compassion is so important-because my life matters just as much as everyone else’s. And thus compassionate people can stop thinking of their lives as more important than others and that fosters acceptance and forgiveness which adds up to a happier and more fulfilled person.
Compassion towards weaker section:
Compassion drives the civil servant to help people and ensure the welfare of people. Poor people, downtrodden, distressed women, farmers and children seek support of the civil servants & public services from them and compassion would help them. Compassion brings humanity in administration.
Compassion ensures a people-centric, humane, accommodative administration which is a pre-requisite for a multi-cultural polity like India with millions in distress. It can go long way in building trust in government.
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