I recently read an article called The Compassionate Instinct. I found at fascinating, as I do with most articles about human beings and social behaviors. I decided to put together some interesting facts I learned from the article about compassion as an instinct. Enjoy!
1. Helping others can bring us pleasure.
A study was done at Emory University that entailed participants helping someone else while their brain activity was recorded. It turned out that helping other people triggered the brain activity associated with pleasure and reward. They were able to determine that indeed, helping others DOES bring us the same pleasure we get from gratification of personal desire.
2. Compassion as an emotion has physical side effects.
When you feel compassion for someone or something your heart rate goes down. This is the opposite of what happens when you are in a threatening situation and your heart rate kicks up and you feel the fight or flight response. So with compassion, the feeling you get is to approach and sooth. That's why when a baby cries, a mother comforts it rather than panics and looks around wondering what made it cry.
3. When you show people compassion your body produces more oxytocin.
A warm smile, friendly gesture, or affirmative body signal to another person actually triggers your body to produce more Oxytocin, causing a chemical reaction in your body that actually motivates you to be MORE compassionate. Now you can see why starting off your day with a positive attitude towards others makes it easier to continue doing so for the rest of the day.
4. Touch can trigger the release of Oxytocin.
When you are crying and a friend comforts you by rubbing your back or holding you as you cry, you tend to feel better and more releived inside. That's because your body is producing Oxytocin which makes you feel a bit better.