Strengthening Your Compassion Muscle - Practice 1

Compassion is a stance or orientation toward yours or another's suffering that includes: recognition of the suffering, feeling for the sufferer, and a desire leading to action to lessen the suffering. Contrary to popular belief, compassion is a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capacity that can be strengthened with practice. 

However, most of us have never received any formal training in how to be compassionate. Instead, we have seen compassion modeled for us by parents, teachers, mentors, friends, and the society at large. Or, in contrast, we have seen compassion's opposites on display, often wreaking havoc in our lives and our world. 


Given the informal compassion training we have received, what might formal compassion training look like? This article is the first of several, introducing you to specific compassion strengthening exercises you can try for yourself or as a team. 

Just as with any recommended practice, notice how it impacts you personally. Just because a practice works for participants in a research study does not mean it will work for you. 

Each practice is from Greater Good In Action 


For reflection alone or together:

Practice 1: Feeling Connected

Bring to mind a time when you felt very connected to someone. It may have been through an especially meaningful interaction, memorable conversation, or experience of a life-changing or historical event. 

Take 5 minutes to write down the details of the interaction what happened and what was said and done that fostered this deeper sense of connection to the other person.  

Next week: Strengthening your compassion muscle - part 2