COMPASSION & EMPATHY – KEYS TO GOOD HEALTH
By Dr. Partha Nandi
Compassion is a critical component of being a good doctor, but beyond my medical practice, compassion is an important element of all my relationships. Practicing compassion and empathy makes me a better husband, father, and friend. As an added benefit, it is good for my health.
Exercising empathy, and consciously incorporating compassion in your relationships, can improve your physical and emotional well-being.
HOW DOES COMPASSION IMPACT HEALTH?
Our bodies are interconnected systems. When we talk about health, we must not just consider physical functions. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves are all powerfully – and beautifully – linked.
Compassion is the emotional recognition of another’s suffering. When we exercise empathy, we acknowledge what others are going through. We stand in that pain with them. It is a powerful emotion; it can soothe the suffering of others as well as provide strong health benefits.
Those who practice compassion report less stress, and therefore a reprieve from the negative physical effects that stress can trigger or worsen – including high blood pressure and heart disease, gastrointestinal distress, and diabetes.
Additionally, research has shown that practicing compassion may lower inflammation and increase the body’s ability to fight disease by strengthening the immune system.
WANT HAPPINESS AND A LONG LIFE? TRY COMPASSION.
Research supports a correlation between compassion and happiness. When researchers gave money to participants, they found that those who spent money on others reported feeling happier than those who spent the money on themselves.
Research with children as young as two showed similar results.
Compassion involves a shift in the way we see others, and it can also affect the way others view us. In studies and surveys, compassionate people were rated as being more attractive and happier.
Being compassionate means connecting with others in deep, meaningful ways. When we feel connected with others, we are more at peace with ourselves. Our bodies heal more quickly from injury and illness. Research even suggests that compassionate people may live longer!
HOW DO I BECOME MORE COMPASSIONATE?
It’s a simple formula: Compassionate people show compassion. If you want to have more compassion in your relationships, make a conscious effort to practice it.
Be mindful in your relationships. Listen – really listen – to others. Forgive. Love. Model these behaviors for your children.
Volunteer in your community. Whether it be volunteering at a homeless shelter, visiting a nursing home, or getting involved with a tutoring program for disadvantaged youth, there are countless ways to make a positive impact in your community and to show compassion to those who may be suffering.
Practicing compassion makes us happier and healthier. Helping those in need helps us, too.