Compassion and Resilience

Compassion is a state to be cultivated. The ability to foster social bonds through aiding others, though taking effort in the short term, is what makes us, both as individuals and as societies, more resilient in the long term.


When you think of compassion, what other words come to mind? For many, it’s words related to softness and nurturance. In fact, look in almost any thesaurus and you’ll find the primary synonyms to be softheartedness, tenderness, mercy and consideration. Although these are certainly virtuous qualities, they also seem to share other unfortunate connotations: weakness and passivity. They’re traits you might expect to find in individuals who are followers, not leaders. They’re attributes you might guess characterize groups more likely to be cowed than to be hardy. But nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, compassion equals strength and resilience.

David DeSteno Northeastern University professor