Tag Archives: wellness

Compassion as an innate human capacity

In the video below, Emma Seppala, Associate Director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University reviews some of the latest scientific research on compassion at the Empathy in Society Conference last October in London.

Among the major points she touches on are:

  • measuring the real life impact of compassion interventions on subsequent behaviour;
  • compassion as an evolutionary adaptive development;
  • the incompleteness of the economic model of agents informed by rational self-interest; and
  • applications of compassion development and interventions in the work place.
(Hat-tip: Dorothy Della Noce)

Consider This on Self-Awareness

“If we were to make a list of people we don’t like – people we find obnoxious, threatening, or worthy of contempt – we would find out a lot about those aspects of ourselves that we can’t face. If we were to come up with one word about each of the troublemakers in our lives, we would find ourselves with a list of descriptions of our own rejected qualities, which we project onto the outside world. The people who repel us unwittingly show the aspects of ourselves that we find unacceptable, which otherwise we can’t see […] They mirror us and give us the chance to befriend all of that ancient stuff that we carry around like a backpack full of boulders.”

[Chodron, P. (2001). Start where you are: a guide to compassionate living. (pp. 176). Boston: Shambhala Publications. Retrieved from http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/isbn/978-1-57062-839-9.cfm?utm_medium=email&utm_source=HA%208/31/11%5D

To live well

‘Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.’ Thus concluded John Stuart Mill, the ninetheenth (sic) century British philosopher, after a period of profound unhappiness. He realized that to pursue happiness directly is a mistake. Rather happiness is a by-product of a life. It comes with the air we breath. Or as he also put it, happiness is like a crab: it approaches us sideways, not head on.

It is perhaps like the Olympic runner whose target is to get fit, improve their technique, gain experience, and perhaps win – from which happiness may follow, or not. What the runner doesn’t aim for is felicity. They aim to run well.

But if it is a mistake to aim for happiness as if it were a target, then what might we aim for? And, more darkly, what might get in the way?