Closer to Compassion Part 1: Why Do We Need Compassion?

Our model of compassion, and how it has evolved to help us face our fears.


“We need compassion because life is hard.”

This deceptively simple idea really hit home. Compassion is a human capacity that has evolved with our species to fulfill a specific function – the alleviation of our suffering, and the cultivation of the courage needed to face the challenges of life. As we will see, the way I’m putting it just now is a bit of an oversimplification. Nevertheless, we can find the roots of compassion in our evolved tendency to feel soothed in the presence of others. We can also see the ramifications of compassion in our ability to maintain a secure base, from which to face difficult situations and move toward valued aims.