Did you know that happiness goes hand in hand with compassion? When you’re happy you’re more likely to notice when others are suffering and more likely to offer your support. The converse is true, too – your mood is lifted when you do something kind for someone else. The effect lasts even longer if you make compassion a way of life.
If you’re suffering, it makes all the difference to know that somebody cares. Compassion is therefore the key to social happiness, because it links us with one another and allows ripples of happiness to spread from one person to another.
November 12 next week will mark the launch of the Charter for Compassion, a document designed in the hope of promoting compassion as a value in societies around the world. The idea is that people of any or no religion can unite in caring about other people, regardless of whether those people are the similar to themselves or different.
The Charter is based on the simple concept often known as the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated. Don’t do anything to somebody else that you wouldn’t like done to you.” Karen Armstrong, who founded the Charter, consulted with leaders from the five major world religions, all of which embrace the Golden Rule.
Unfortunately, not everybody wants to be compassionate – some people would rather be right. But Ms Armstrong’s hope is that when the compassion aspect of religion is emphasised, people will no longer be able to quote religious texts to justify atrocities and terrorism.
A video of Karen Armstrong explaining how she came up with the idea can be found at http://www.ted.com/talks/karen_armstrong_makes_her_ted_prize_wish_the_charter_for_compassion.html.
To find out more about this worthwhile project, visit http://charterforcompassion.org/.