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Learn & Practice

Tuesday Tip: Recognize Your Innate Compassion

By The Healthy Minds Team

In this week’s Tuesday Well-Being Tip, tips to cultivate your innate skill of compassion.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

There is a bond that we share as human beings – something fundamentally good about human nature. This is innate compassion.

From the time we learn to crawl, we move toward happiness. We seek out caring interactions and express a genuine interest in the well-being of others.

Scientists have discovered that babies are naturally drawn to caring interactions. When they observe someone helping another person, even when they’re just watching and the person isn’t caring for them directly, they seek that person out. They also tend to avoid people if they see them acting in an unfriendly, or unkind manner. These good-natured instincts are present long before we can think, plan, and reason. So it’s not that the babies are somehow calculating what’s good for them. It’s a natural impulse.

Dr. Richard Davidson

Knowing that we all share this natural impulse can help you feel closer to strangers, support challenging relationships, and give you a sense of connection to the greater world.

Our thoughts, beliefs, and ideologies all change, but compassion is always with us. It is a core element of who we are as living beings on this planet. Compassion is the wish to avoid suffering and hardship. The insight here is to recognize compassion, in the moment as it is happening. 

The practice here is simple – notice compassion in the moment to strengthen a skill you already have – from birth!

As you go throughout your day can you pay attention to times when you are stressed, or reactive? What do you do in these moments to reduce your suffering? Notice the compassion you give yourself.

What about your family or colleagues? Can you notice when they do something to reduce their own suffering? Pay attention when their own compassion is on display.

After you’ve done this for several days, you will start noticing it more and more. Now, can you extend compassion to all beings, even those with whom you don’t interact? Try out this 10 minute meditation when you have a moment. You may shock yourself at how much your compassion has grown.

Get more practices and tips by downloading the Healthy Minds Program App, freely available thanks to the generosity of our donors wherever you get your apps.

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