Compassion involves recognizing our shared human condition, flawed and fragile as it is.Compassion is a term that is both familiar and foreign to me. While I find myself using it more and more, I am not totally confident that I know what it really means. I associate it with Mindfulness and Buddhist practices, which have gained in popularity in recent years. Trying to apply this concept to myself feels even more awkward. Self-Compassion, the recently released self-help book by Kristin Neff, PhD, has been a nice introduction for me.
Neff defines self-compassion in terms of three major factors: self-kindness, a common humanity, and mindfulness. She describes the role of self-criticism in people’s lives. In addition, she goes out of her way to differentiate self-compassion from self-esteem. The book draws on research as well as Neff’s experiences.--One of the most interesting ideas for me is that a person can help regulate the level of oxytocin, the love hormone, in their body.--The book also includes exercises for the reader to try.
This book has a lot of great ideas to ponder. It also includes good references to other books on compassion and happiness. While the book works well as an overview, I personally would have liked more focus on applying the ideas to my own life. Those of us whose family motto was “There is no excuse for not doing things right the first time” need more repetition, more stories, and more practice. The author also went off on some tangents, which I am not sure were helpful. It is still a very worthwhile book.