Compassion is Good for You

March 14 2011, by Martin Boroson

A friend of mine once remarked that when he is feeling most compassionate, he feels the best. Or in other words, “Nothing feels better than compassion.”

I like this idea, for two reasons:

First, it suggests that compassion is something to do for our sake, rather than for someone else, or because we think it will make us into “good” people. That is a nice twist. Just do it because it feels good.

Second, most people can relate to this, in that most of us have experienced some moments in which our heart was really open wide, where our feeling for someone else, or for other people, so dominated our consciousness that our ordinary preoccupations with self were just not so loud. So most of us have had some evidentiary proof of this proposition. Yes, compassion feels good.

And if that weren’t good enough, I then stumbled upon this extraordinary article by David Hamilton, summarizing recent research suggesting that compassion may actually help you live longer. It does this by reducing inflammation (by increasing the fitness or tone of the vagus nerve).

I like the idea that scientists are discovering that love is good for us.

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