When Compassion Takes Hold

ggsc_logoI love to keep my hand in the positive psychology and happiness pots. I found the Greater Good Science Center website and noticed they that had a course, The Science of Happiness” that had just started, and I signed up right away. It’s a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) run by edX.org and taught by esteemed psychology experts from the Center, Dacher Keltner and Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas. Thousands of people take the class from around the globe!

Here’s the Center’s mission:

The Greater Good Science Center studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.

Steeped in research and science, the Center has a different take on happiness and wellbeing. So far, what resonates with me the most is that the first half of the course focuses on our relationships with others and society at large that can play a significant role in having a more satisfying life.

Week three continued from the theme of empathy and into compassion, where we are not only moved by the suffering of others, but now what makes us compelled to act. The good news is that it’s hardwired into our brain as part of our survival mechanism. It’s also contagious. Seeing others being compassionate triggers out own desire to act. It releases those feel good chemicals that increases our happiness.

I’ve been living a bit in my own bubble, longing to feel more connected to something outside of myself. After taking this week of compassion study I was compelled to act!  I decided to volunteer at a local animal shelter and coincidentally enough, last week walked into a pet store that happened to have a mini-shelter on-site, CLAWS, the Closter Animal Welfare Society. I called the lady who runs the program and made a date to come in.

Katie the cat
Katie the Cat up for adoption

This weekend, I volunteered for CLAWS at the local Pet Valu store where the organization runs out of in Edgewater, NJ, and got a chance to learn the ropes. I also got a chance to play with the kitties and give them some well needed TLC. More than anything, I fulfilled on a promise to myself and was the better for it. Whatever way it is, I am inspired – and it fills a certain missing piece in my life.

I ask you this week, what are you moved or passionate about and how do you think can you contribute? Yes, you can make a difference, no matter how big or how small.



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