C@W26 – March 2023, Compassion is Good for All

consciousness@work 26 – March 2023
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Compassion is Good for All

Written by: Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.

March 2023

Compassion research is at a tipping point: Overwhelming evidence suggests compassion is good for our health and good for the world. 

-Emma Seppala, Ph.D. 

Science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and the author of The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016)

    In the FAERF Institute’s upcoming Certificate in International-Humanitarian Assistance Response Programs (I-HARP)™ one of the five courses, “Caring for Employee Responders,” will focus on supporting company employees who step out of their day-to-day jobs to assist survivors of tragedies that occur in their workplace. Unlike EMT’s, nurses, and other first responders whose daily job involves assisting survivors in crises, company employees who volunteer for this caregiving role choose to help their employer by escorting and supporting customers and families during times of enormous distress - death and serious injuries. 

    Interviews with experienced Care and Special Assistance Team Members show clearly the why behind this volunteerism - their desire to help is based on compassion.

The new science of human goodness, or compassion as it is known, is an “evolved part of human nature, rooted in our brain and biology”.

- Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

    The study of compassion, like the field of positive psychology, is fairly new when compared to the decades of studies about pathology and illness. Researchers differentiate between compassion, empathy, and altruism. Emma Seppala defines empathy as the emotional experience of another person’s feelings. Altruism is an action that benefits someone else, and may not be accompanied by empathy or compassion. She defines compassion as the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help alleviate that suffering. 

Giving to others increases well-being above and beyond what we experience…

-Elizabeth Dunn, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, University of British Columbia 

    Employee responders featured in the course will provide numerous examples where their compassionate response to strangers has contributed to their lives, as well as those they have assisted. Their testimony is an example of research that shows that giving to others increases our well-being above and beyond what we experience when we spend money on ourselves. 

Compassion increases our sense of connection to others

    Numerous studies show that social connectedness improves health and increases longevity. Company responders describe the value of being on a team and the sense of belonging they experience in taking part in an organization’s overall response during a tragedy. Repeatedly employee responders describe the pride they feel when they see their corporate leaders providing a generous and compassionate response to survivors of crisis in their workplace. 

    The introductory course for the certificate in International-Humanitarian Assistance Response Programs (I-HARP) is due this month. Members will be able to work toward the certificate by taking this first course, followed by five others, including the one discussed in this article, i.e., Caring for Employee Responders.

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