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How Compassion is Creating a Healthier, Happier, More Peaceful World in 2023
As we approach the end of year, it can be a powerful time to reflect upon how we inspire hope in each other and make a positive impact in the world.
Here, at Compassion Institute (CI), we’ve been looking back on the many tangible ways our work, our vibrant community, and invaluable partnerships have helped advance compassion as a guiding principle and driving force for change in 2023.
If, like us, you’ve been feeling heartbroken by recent global events — we want to share some news that may help lift your spirits during this challenging time.
Even though it may not be topping the headlines, compassion is spreading across the globe. And working together, we’re making strides towards creating a movement for mass well-being.
Since 2017, Compassion Institute has offered more than 500+ compassion training programs — and that’s just a drop in the “compassion bucket” of what we believe is possible.
This year, we’ve been particularly focused on multiplying the impact of our courses through the compassionate actions of every doctor, nurse, law enforcement officer, and teacher we train. That’s because we believe that implementing compassion-based approaches in key fields — including health, law enforcement and public safety, and education — is crucial for spreading the values that create a healthier, happier, and more peaceful society.
Since 2018, Compassion Institute has been supporting critical sectors that serve us — with a high priority on healthcare, public health, and medical education. And as you can imagine, widespread burnout and staffing shortages during the height of the pandemic required us to rapidly expand our online compassion trainings and cultivate collaborative partnerships.
Fast forward to 2023: We’ve continued to offer these programs that amplify self-care and compassion among health professionals — so they can stay connected with their purpose, motivation, and wellbeing — even during the most challenging of circumstances.
Of her experience with Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT™), Karen Mott says,
“As a registered nurse for over 30 years, I have personally experienced ’empathy fatigue.’ Compassion Cultivation Training has given me the ability to stay present with the suffering that I encounter on a daily basis — without being overwhelmed by it.”
We want to extend our gratitude to our small, but fiercely passionate, health team who facilitated 21 compassion trainings, webinars, and customized offerings this year alone.
As a result, we’re excited to share:
· 145 Public health professionals (in public health and healthcare) took one of our compassion training programs for the first time.
· Course participants represented 18 organizations, and included health professionals who attended our first-ever Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT™) for the Health Sector offered to the general public.
One of our health sector highlights this past spring was a series of fruitful meetings with our esteemed partner T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion at UC San Diego Health Sciences. This collaboration is intended to bring innovative compassion education frameworks to healthcare and medical education.
Our team’s visit included an observation of Compassionatomy — an exciting anatomy laboratory class that incorporates short compassion training exercises for first year UCSD medical students at the start of each anatomy lab. The positive initial outcome from the pilot resulted in the expansion of compassion training to coincide with every anatomy lab session this academic year.
In other partnerships with El Rio Community Health (Arizona) and California Primary Care Association (CPCA), we’ve been offering compassion training to several health workers at Federally Qualified Health Centers which serve impoverished and underserved communities.
“The virtual facilitated sessions led by the Compassion Institute with El Rio clinicians has had profound healing effects on our Community Health Center staff — one healer’s heart at a time,” shared Doug Spegman MD, MSPH, FACP, and Chief Clinical Officer at El Rio Health.
Caring From the Inside Out
Something that has really inspired us this year are our research findings from our 2022 Caring From the Inside Out (CFIO) program (based on a sampling of 454 participant surveys across 4 organizations).
Before taking this program, the majority of health professionals reported feeling that their work stressed them out to the point of feeling emotionally or physically drained a few times each month.
CFIO participants cultivated self-care and emotional regulation techniques in their workplaces, as well as an increase in compassion for themselves and others. They found that even just a few minutes of self-care during the workday can help to re-center and ground them so they are more aware and available for their patients.
After our program, the majority of participants reported experiencing an increase across ALL major program focus areas including:
- · Acceptance of emotions, self-acceptance, & self-compassion
- · Self-awareness & intentionality regarding self-care
- · Calmness, stress management, & improved gratitude
- · Compassion for others and openness to receiving compassion from others
- · Improved happiness, focus, & job satisfaction
It wasn’t surprising to discover that a majority of the participants indicated they would recommend the program to others. We also received an incredible number of positive responses, including these survey snippets:
“CFIO, has improved my awareness and focus on self-compassion and compassion to others during tough situations.”
“It [CFIO] has helped me to remain calm in stressful situations by being mindful of my emotions.”
Just imagine the ways we could completely transform our healthcare systems if we had the resources to offer every health clinic, hospital, and health professional compassion training like this. And picture how the benefits could ripple out to you and your family as well as your community at large.
More Courage in 2023
The health sector is not the only area that has experienced powerful benefits from compassion training. To answer the critical need to prioritize wellness and resilience for law enforcement and public safety professionals, Compassion Institute created Courageous Heart: The Human Behind the Badge™ (CH) in 2018.
“This training is not what you think it will be. It will make you a better police
officer, and a better person.”
— Courageous Heart Student
We’d like to applaud our dedicated team who works with esteemed partners to help deliver the only resilience and compassion training designed and tailored specifically for individuals in these professions.
And in 2023, it’s our honor to share that 80+ different law enforcement and public safety agencies participated in the Courageous Heart courses which are fully-certified throughout the State of California through the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).
Additionally, this year, we’re proudly training more members of the law enforcement community to teach our POST-certified courses. Our hope is that we’ll have the support to exponentially grow these offerings in the upcoming years (and beyond).
Our Courageous Heart courses include a progression of compassion-based skills that can be beneficial personally and professionally. These courses also explicitly address inclusiveness and counteract cultural or racial bias by offering specific exercises to recognize our common humanity and increase personal capacity to navigate potential conflicts.
Why Compassion Training for Law Enforcement & Public Safety?
You may be surprised to discover that training that supports an officer’s inner well-being was not offered to the law enforcement community until very recently. Instead, the programs they received only addressed physical and dietary wellness.
- · Reduce the symptoms of stress & help avoid burnout.
- · Increase resilience, self-care & self-compassion skills.
- · Improve self-awareness & emotion regulation skills.
We think you’ll agree that all of the above are imperative when the wellbeing and safety of the public are in your hands.
Robert Jonsen, the current Sheriff of Santa Clara County, California (and retired Chief of Police for Palo Alto, California) says this of his experience with our seminal compassion program:
“I was introduced to CCT™ (Compassion Cultivation Training) and I immediately saw the value that it could bring to our profession. From that point on, I’ve been all in! I think that as we offer it to… our population of men and women serving our communities, it is going to help them not only regulate their own suffering and their emotions, but… be better prepared to serve our communities.”
And Public Safety Manager Karen McAdams shares this about her journey:
“After going through a difficult year professionally, the CCT™ class came into my life at the perfect time. I realized that I was severely lacking in self-care and compassion for myself… The tools I have learned at CCT™ will stay with me forever, and I can honestly say that CCT™ changed my life.”
We’re excited to be part of the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) Partner Program. In 2023, we were honored to join more than 350 law enforcement executives at the CPCA Annual Training Symposium in Monterey, California. Additionally, in 2023 we participated in the Women Leaders in Law Enforcement Conference (WLLE).
Compassion Training for the Public
Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT™)
As you heard in the quotes above, Compassion Cultivation Training can change lives. This 8-week course was developed at Stanford University by CI co-founder Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D, with contributions from our founding faculty.
To date, Compassion Institute’s global network of over 300 certified instructors in 25 countries and 27 U.S. states have taught CCT to more than 7,700 members of the general public! And this year alone, thanks to our hardworking team, Compassion Institute’s 6 online CCT™ classes reached 110 participants from 9 countries, including Hungary, Japan, and Portugal.
You can see why we don’t just think — but KNOW — that compassion is spreading around the globe.
A student in Lakiba Pittman’s 2023 CCT™ Class shared,
“This is a class [CCT™] that is immediately useful. It helped me remain resilient and calm in the face of an unexpected medical emergency before even finishing the 8-week course. Maybe more important, moving into the day-to-day, the practices have lent me a more tolerant and gracious way of being in the world.”
2023 CCT™ Teacher Training
We’re beyond proud to announce that 52 participants from 21 countries (including Azerbaijan, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, and Taiwan) graduated from our 2023 Compassion Cultivation Teacher Training program. These individuals from around the world were carefully selected from over100 applications based on the criteria of multiple dimensions of diversity, learning capacities for the program, and the strong intention of applicants to offer CCT™ to a global audience.
On the surface, our graduates are different from each other in many ways, but one clear trait they share is the fierce curiosity for compassion and the strong intention to bring compassion to the people in their workplaces, organizations, and communities through CCT™.
We’re Building Compassion From the Inside Out!
Alongside our sector-specific work and dissemination of CCT™, we offer broader compassion-based programs for a growing global audience through an online teaching platform.
This October, over 1,000 participants registered for “From Overwhelming to Restorative: Transform Your Emotions” — a live online event with Thupten Jinpa, PhD. Developed in response to the overwhelm our global community indicated they were experiencing this fall, this event marked the first-ever free “masterclass” of its kind offered directly through Compassion Institute.
But that’s not all!
Over 850 participants from more than 40 countries took Dr. Jinpa’s 2-week self-paced Building Compassion From the Inside Out (BCFTIO) program this year. The number of course participants more than doubled those enrolled in 2022.
The numbers don’t lie. It’s heartwarming to see that the desire for compassion training is growing in leaps and bounds.
As one student shared,
“I’m grateful for these insights (from BCFTIO), and I love the beautiful image of people all over the world becoming more equipped to sow seeds of compassion in our environments — creating a ripple effect that, hopefully, will extend far beyond our immediate reach.”
A Compassionate Future
Speaking of creating a ripple effect… we are at a critical turning point on the planet.
We can continue to grasp onto perspectives that polarize and divide. Or we can embrace compassion as a unifying value and driving force for positive change.
On the individual level.
On the institutional level.
On the societal level.
We are so grateful for our community members from around the world who are actively choosing compassion.
Together, let’s celebrate the ways we’ve personally and collectively amplified compassion throughout the year. And then let’s consider the many powerful ways we can contribute and keep growing the momentum in 2024, and beyond. Join the compassion conversation with us.