The Science of Compassion

What is Compassion?

Compassion enables kindness and is crucial in maintaining and building social relationships and developing social awareness. Though compassion is closely linked with empathy (to feel for another), compassion is the desire to act to prevent other people’s suffering when confronted by it.

Why Compassion Matters

  • Compassion enables loving behavior, is fundamental in building social connections, and improves relationships between children and parents. People with healthy, compassionate relationships live longer, are healthier, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, including substance use.

  • Compassion is connected with a higher level of self-esteem, well-being, and happiness. It improves stress resilience, strengthens the immune system, and may lead to a longer life. It is also linked with increased learning and improved academic performance.
  • Compassion is “the glue that holds the world together.” It makes people help those in need and contributes to the development of humanity.
  • Compassionate behavior such as volunteer work benefits both the giver and the receiver. Research suggests that the act of giving can be even more rewarding than the act of receiving.

Did You Know? Compassion for others starts with self-compassion: to avoid self-criticism and treat ourselves kindly.

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“Compassion is an essential part of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).”

Made possible with the generous support of France.