Fierce Excerpts: On why compassion is necessary for the survival of the human race.

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Now Listening | Just a Little Nicer, the TED Radio Hour.

Whenever I travel, I try to catch up on podcasts from NPR’s This American Life or Planet Money or from my new favorite series, the TED Radio Hour. The latest episode I listened to was all about compassion titled, “Just a Little Nicer.” The title drew my attention because kindness is a core value at Fierce—we strive to keep it at the center of everything we do because we believe it’s a corporate difference maker. We’re always in search of new insights and understanding on how kindness can make a difference both in our personal lives and in business. Each of the speakers represented in the podcast, some who have given their whole lives to study compassion and know of its transformative power first hand, shared their personal struggle to live it out in the day to day. Compassion is complicated but as Sally Kohn reiterates in her TED talk, it’s critical to our survival.

Below are just a few excepts from the podcast.

First, from Sally Kohn, CEO of Movement Vision Lab and Fox News contributor: 

Compassion is the ability to appreciate and validate someone else’s experience even if it isn’t your own.

There is emotional correctness and then there is political correctness. Forming a connection first through emotional correctness leads to conversations that can truly effect change.

From Krista Tippett, host of On Being:

Our cultural imagination about compassion has been deadened by idealistic images. 

Compassion is a core virtue that has within it many other virtues. Compassion’s kindred and component parts are kindness, curiosity, empathy, presence, generosity, hospitality, listening, and redemptive capacity.

Compassion is making a choice to honor other people’s humanity. It’s something we can decide we’re going to practice much like throwing a ball. The choice to be compassionate can become instinctive with practice.

Compassion is a “spiritual technology”. Humanity needs compassion as much as it needs all the others virtues that have combined to connect us into one society. 

From Karen Armstrong, British author:  

Karen Armstrong found in her years of study at Oxford (post being a nun) that at the core of each faith is compassion. According to her, you transcend yourself and dethrone yourself as the center of your universe when you practice true compassion. She believes that religion is a fault line and that religion has been hijacked in our culture, mostly due to human greed and ego. She believes that we are addicted to our pet enemies—we speak of them so we can live vicariously through other people’s unkindnesses because it gives us some sort of selfish satisfaction. 

From Daniel Goleman, the first to coin the term “Emotional Intelligence”, the ability to evaluate other people’s emotions.  

Goleman feels that when we see a beggar, it’s not about what they need from us or if their need is legitimate as much as it’s about what their state evokes within us. He goes on to say that mindfulness is how you prepare yourself to be compassionate and he states that empathy starts with the simple act of noticing. 

He discusses social neuroscience which is the study of how two people interact and according to science, we are wired to care and to be naturally compassionate. But if we act on it or not depends on where we are on the scale of noticing, caring, feeling empathy, and acting.

He shares that we are less likely to be compassionate when we communicate digitally. When you don’t communicate face to face you’re being deprived of critical information. 

You can listen to the entire episode here.