Compassion during times of Pandemics – Why bother?

When you are sensitive to the distress and needs of those in pain and suffering it is easier to work out how best to alleviate their suffering. Our thinking has evolved over millennia to include new types of self-awareness, ways to think, and reason to work out the impact of our behaviour on ourselves years ahead.

Evolutionarily, humans cannot survive on their own. The group we are part of, the world we are part of, needs to survive for us to thrive. To the compassionate person, this is an intrinsic wisdom hardwired in their neurophysiology.

We have health and care workers, volunteers of all kinds – delivering or cooking food for those in need, donating to food banks, supporting those in isolation and the list goes on.
We know when the giving is done to boost one’s selfish ego the reward is immediate, glorification, and adoration of the self, even if it is a shallow and false self. The apparent wellbeing and happiness obtained from this is also shallow and false. However, when you give selflessly, what do you get in return? Why bother?

As a neuropsychologist, I got curious and set out to carry out my research and reading in the usual fashion. The research is clear. Compassion focused activities and actions have a significant impact on a range of psychological and neurophysiological systems in the brain including the frontal cortex, amygdala sensitivity, heart rate variability, and immune functioning to name a few. The intensity and depth with which happiness and wellbeing are experienced by a compassionate person far exceed that of someone with less or no compassion.

I would like to let everyone out there serving humanity to know that the age-old saying, ‘what goes around comes around’ is true in every way. Keep serving with a wholesome selfless service and the natural by-product for you will be a deeper, richer, and more colourful life. A small caveat though, remember to practice compassion on yourself too, look after yourself, you are part of humanity too.

May we all find peace and keep well.