Want a happy life? Try com­pas­sion

It’s not in chas­ing hap­pi­ness that we find it, but by prac­tis­ing grat­i­tude and com­pas­sion, that makes us feel deeply con­nected and ful­filled, and that is what re­ally makes us happy.

Living Now - - Personal Development - By Julie Ann Cairns

Alot is said these days about the power of grat­i­tude. And rightly so – prac­tis­ing grat­i­tude for the good things we al­ready have in our lives cre­ates a pow­er­ful foun­da­tion for hap­pi­ness. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Dr Amit Sood, a Pro­fes­sor of Medicine from the fa­mous Mayo Clinic, if you want to re­ally turbo-power your hap­pi­ness, then grat­i­tude is only part of the story. The other key ingredient is com­pas­sion. While em­pa­thy is the abil­ity to put your­self in an­other per­son’s shoes – to un­der­stand their sit­u­a­tion and share their feel­ings – com­pas­sion is the con­cern and pity for their plight. It’s the abil­ity to feel their pain, and to want to soothe it – just as you would want to soothe that pain if it were your own.

Com­pas­sion and grat­i­tude work syn­er­gis­ti­cally. When they are com­bined, they can feed into and sup­port each other in a way that boosts the power of both.

If we are com­pas­sion­ate to­wards oth­ers, it can help us to have a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion and grat­i­tude for our own bless­ings in life. For in­stance, when we em­pathise with some­one who is sick, it helps us to ap­pre­ci­ate the great bless­ing of our own health.

And if we have a strong sense of ap­pre­ci­a­tion and grat­i­tude in our own life, it can in turn help us to have a greater ca­pac­ity for em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion to­wards oth­ers be­cause a strong grat­i­tude prac­tice puts us in a men­tal po­si­tion of re­siliency that can for­tify our abil­ity to em­pathise.

Dr Sood says, based on re­search find­ings about the brain: “Be­cause of the way that your brain op­er­ates, the pur­suit of grat­i­tude and com­pas­sion will make you hap­pier than the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness.”

Wow. That is quite an in­sight. And frankly, it ex­plains a lot!

So many of us are pur­su­ing hap­pi­ness, and yet it re­mains elu­sive. Why is that? Of­ten the things that we think are go­ing to make us happy, ac­tu­ally don’t. Or, they give us a tem­po­rary boost of hap­pi­ness, but then the ef­fect wears off quickly.

It’s like we have a set point, or base­line, of hap­pi­ness and we keep re­turn­ing to it. This is ac­tu­ally a the­ory about hap­pi­ness, called the ‘set point the­ory’, which has been sup­ported by psy­cho­log­i­cal stud­ies.

Our hap­pi­ness set point is of­ten de­ter­mined by the hap­pi­ness we ex­pe­ri­enced (or didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence) grow­ing up, and is af­fected by both our en­vi­ron­ment and in­her­ited ge­netic fac­tors. It can also be af­fected by trau­matic events at any time in life.

So what if we want to in­crease our hap­pi­ness set point? How do we do that?

Dr Sood’s in­sight shows that the quick­est way to greater hap­pi­ness is

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