Why do so many in the West, with their basic needs met, feel impoverished, lonely, depressed and anxious?
Is there an antidote for the epidemic of misery in modern society? An article by Inc.com says there is.
Research by world-renowned neurosurgeon James Doty and other scientific evidence have revealed the solution and it is what we have always learned through religion and Eastern philosophies.
The antidote for misery in modern society is compassion.
Doty, author of the New York Times best seller Into the Magic Shop, is director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. He explains in his Huffington Post column:
“Compassion is the recognition of another’s suffering and a desire to alleviate that suffering. Often brushed off as a hippy dippy religious term irrelevant in modern society, rigorous empirical data supports the view of all major world religions: compassion is good.
“Our poverty in the West is not that of the wallet but rather that of social connectedness.”
How do we benefit from practicing compassion?
Being actively compassionate and socially connected to those we come in contact with, boost our health, and contributes to our happiness and wellbeing. Importantly, it gives us a sense of purpose and meaning.
Compassion is also beginning to find expression in the workplace in the form of Servant Leadership.
Servant Leadership is defined as “a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world,” writes Marcel Schwantes.
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Jack Ma as servant leader
Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba and self-made billionaire, is a proponent of what he calls “love quotient” or LQ which he says is superior to EQ (emotional intelligence) and IQ.
According to Ma’s love quotient model, you measure success not by your worth (or company’s worth) but by the compassionate modus operandi of how many problems you solved and how many people you helped in the world, writes Schwantes.
Ma says, “You can become a money machine, but what’s the use of that? If you’re not contributing to the rest of the world, there’s no LQ…your love is you have to be principled. That’s the bottom line.”
The Dalai Lama on (secular) compassion
“If we say, ‘oh, the practice of compassion is something holy,’ nobody will listen. If we say, ‘warm-heartedness really reduces your blood pressure, your anxiety, your stress and improves your health,’ then people pay attention.”
But there is a crucial difference between compassion and empathy. Empathy lets you actually feel the suffering of another and renders you unable to help, but compassion will put you in that person’s shoes and help you see what you can do to alleviate their suffering.
Put another way, says Schwantes, compassion is a more objective form of empathy.
This ability to see things clearly through another person’s perspective is quality that makes for really successful leaders.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner Weiner’s agrees: It is better to go through the world as a compassionate person, able to confront the plights of others without being crippled by their weight. Therefore, it is better to lead with compassion, not empathy.