It's a powerful word. Among researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
Today there are many people and places, near and far, where a touch of compassion can be life changing. Simply knowing that someone cares about your suffering changes everything. And the news is also good for you when you reach out in compassion.
What research is showing is that compassionate outreach not only benefits the recipient; it benefits the giver in profound ways. Studies show this act of reaching out activates the reward center in the brain. That is the same center that activates when you have rewards such as food, water, positive events, and on the dark side, drugs and sugar.
I'm going to be thinking about that the next time I reach out to someone with compassion. It's sure to feel better than a brownie ever could.
Check out this illustration of how events trigger brain activity