Photo by Ron Lach
Are people hard-wired for compassion, or do they lean more toward selfishness due to their evolution? Prioritizing oneself may bring people numerous self-serving advantages. But here’s how living life with new perspectives can bring more happiness.
There’s a belief out there that people are innately selfish. This belief was held by the economist Frederick Hayek. Hayek with his brother-in-law Milton Friedman and others who shared this belief pushed the idea that totally unfettered free markets will create prosperity. Former President Ronald Reagan and former Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Brian Mulrooney all championed the idea that we human beings are all rational, selfish individuals. Frederick Hayek who the Noble Prize for economics and was very successful in raising money to fund economic institutes and think thanks. Hayek argues that people like educators, journalists, and religious leaders have great influence. Hayek with Milton Friedman and James Buchanan worked to train armies of influencers to attack the very idea of the Common Good.
Increasingly our entertainers have created popular shows in which popular characters insist that putting ourselves first without considering others is normal because evolution favors ruthless people. Neo-Darwinists love to argue that nature favors “survival of the fittest.” For these people the most ruthless person is the strongest. They belief that by supporting a ruthless leader they and their families will also come on out on top. Those who believe in winner takes all also tend to believe that winning a war will resolve all our problems. Losing at war has frequently meant death for the survivors on the losing side and it is easy to see why so many of are concerned with how well our military are equipped and trained.
However, new theories and research results prove that nature supports helpful and supportive relationships. The term people use is Symbiosis. For example scientists are now learning that
Native Americans, our collective human ancestors and our Indigenous sisters and brothers are wise to value forests and trees and to view this as being Sacred. It seems that trees communicate and connect with each other through complex systems some people call “ The Worldwide web”.
Top scientists now teach that evolution doesn’t favor selfishness, and people don’t need
to be selfish to survive. Within a group including a family and any kind of organization , a ruthless person will often win. Such people may even go on to have enormous military success.
An example is Alexander of Greece. Spencer Boersma a great Christian writer for our times contrasts the stories surrounding Alexander of Macedonia and Jesus, Our Unlikely Messiah.
Although within a group it is very difficult to stand up successfully to a very ruthless and powerful person. However, when groups compete against each other the group that contains more unselfish people will win out against the group that contains more selfish people.
This is why caring for the morale of troops is always so vital. Ruthless troops who massacre and use rape and torture inflict dreadful suffering and can demoralize and destroy whole populations of people. Ruthless immoral troops will always be eventually defeated by troops who fight to protect the vulnerable members of their communities. Tragically much catastrophic suffering with evil consequences that last though many generations is caused by ruthless military commanders and the forces they command.
Still, we are learning that nature pays those who know how to empathize and work well with a team. It’s also been recently found that people are born with a capacity to care and that compassion and kindness are infectious although sadly the reverse is also true. Kindness and compassion are infectious. Tragically abuse and cruelty are also infectious . We need Fierce Kindness and Compassion to fight back against all who are ruthless champions of abuse and cruelty.
The Power Behind Compassion
On the subject of compassion, people might view it as a relatively feminine quality. Men are in charge of assertiveness. Women are commonly associated with compassion and kindness. Compared to self-serving and standing one’s ground, compassion makes people seem weak and vulnerable. This is one of the reasons why people are afraid of being compassionate. It entails being kinder and more accepting of others, which has the potential to expose us to people who seek to take advantage of us.
But, new perspectives point out how there’s power in compassion. This power doesn’t revolve around manipulating others or making them cower in fear. Instead, it’s more about touching people’s lives and cultivating a more personal and intimate change. Compassion isn’t only about empathizing and feeling deeply about others. It isn’t only manifested through someone’s vicarious understanding of another’s suffering. Compassion doesn’t stop there. It also empowers
us to make better decisions, live life using new perspectives, and alleviate our own and others sufferings.
Hence, compassion is powerful, but not for the same reason as strength. It’s powerful because it has more prosocial action in improving our own and other people’s lives. While it’s deemed innate for humans to be compassionate, the stressors we’re exposed to everyday can potentially suppress it. Social pressures and life experiences can make us act in ways contrary to these expectations. Instead of being kind and empathizing with others, we often react, act impulsively and, often, in frustration blurt out something very mean. Fortunately, we human beings are continually growing and changing. We can train ourselves to cultivate compassionate empathy.
Compassion Cultivation Training
There are numerous training courses available to teach people new skills. These includes motor and knowledge-based skills and also courses which teach people about living life with new perspectives by introducing them to values they do not yet embody. Cultivating compassion takes time and the resolve of wanting to be better. After all, while training courses about compassion suggest that it can be learned, people need ongoing support to continue to be kinder to sustain this value.
One way to grow our innate qualities of compassion, kindness, and compassionate empathy, is to sign up join a Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) group course. This eight-week course results in less reactivity to stress, improved awareness and sensitivity toward others, and an overall increased ease with oneself due to treating ourselves with more compassion and kindness. Using simple exercise and listening to recordings of guided meditation, in Compassion cultivation training, people learn and share how to safely empathize with others. Together we can also grow the strength to welcome and process suffering rather than avoiding it. In developing compassion cultivation together we build our stress resiliency and strength and we improve our ability to handle challenges.
A Trusted Compassion Cultivation Trainer
Dr. Frances Sully created compassion Be Compassionate NL to enable her to share this amazing course with as many other people as possible. Dr. Scully also is can be contacted to come in person or on Zoom to facilitate 60 or 90-minute sessions on explore the cultivation of compassion and kindness with any interested group.
Participants report improved awareness of our emotions and new more positive perspectives on life after these sessions. Participants note an increase in calmness, self-acceptance, and self-caring behavior, all because they now set their intention to be kinder to themselves and others.
Through Be Compassionate NL she will begin teaching three sessions later this month. Specific dates and additional requirements can be seen in the photo below.
Registering for a session is as easy as 1,2,3. People can visit Be Compassionate NL’s website at: https://becompassionatenl.ca/ and check available registration dates. They can even enjoy coupon codes to save money on their sessions. As Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Register now, and live a kinder, happier life through joining a Compassion Cultivation Training program with Dr. Scully as your certified CCT teacher.