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Staff Spotlight: Logan Smith, Digital Operations & Marketing Manager

    Logan Smith | May 3, 2024
    Logan Smith, Digital Operations Manager

    Compassion Institute is pleased to introduce our committed staff who drive our mission forward everyday: To advance compassion as a guiding principle and active force to foster a more caring world.


    Below, get to know Logan Smith, our Digital Operations & Marketing Manager, and his unique perspectives on compassion.

    Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

    I was born and raised in Minnesota, spending most of my years in South St. Paul around the Twin Cities. Growing up in school, we were always taught to follow the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Kindness as an effect was implied and this is probably the closest concept to compassion I was first exposed to. That and Minnesota niceness!


    In 2016, I graduated high-school and moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California (USC). I currently live and work in Culver City in L.A.

    What does compassion mean to you?

    Compassion is the answer to all of the moments I felt unheard, misunderstood, and unseen. Compassion provided me with strength like the roots of a tree—a foundation. It helped me develop a better relationship and understanding of myself and how I connect with others. Suffering is innate, but we have a choice to engage with compassion.

    What drew you to compassion training and working at CI?

    I previously worked for the e-learning platform, Engagez, that Compassion Institute utilizes to deliver our compassion training programs. I had always noticed the previous branding as a compassionate symbol—a bright and warm sun. It always evoked a sense of peace and belonging as did the impression of the courses themselves. Periodically, I imagined working with Compassion Institute, and then later I actually found a well-timed opportunity when I was facing a career transition that coincided with an expansion and new time at Compassion Institute.

    What is your background related to this work? What other studies, jobs, practices, or volunteer work prepared you for what you're doing now?

    My first major at USC was a B.A. in Theatre – Acting, so naturally my coursework and acting classes led to understanding the human spirit and points of view. In acting, you generally want to understand your character and their motivations. Why do they feel something is important? Why do they react the way they do? In that work, you suspend your judgements to give every character their authenticity and explore their suffering through storytelling.


    I’m also a pretty big digital nerd—having explored computers and video games since I was a kid! I used to stare at retail game boxes, and later websites, for hours on end. I utilized these passions when switching my major to Communication and later getting a Masters of Science in Digital Social Media, learning how to view marketing as a multi-faceted communication question. In the case of compassion: How can we introduce evidence-based compassion practices to more people? And to what extent can compassion be a digital interface for others?


    Later on in my studies at USC, I engaged with a minor called Performance Science—very similar to sports psychology. The central question is: How do you maximize your performance in any domain? This path led me to take courses on decision-making, happiness, and the mind-body connection—all tangentially related to the work of compassion and Compassion Institute.


    Maximizing performance in our lives goes hand-in-hand with compassion given that compassion helps improve feelings of ease. And the world’s top performers–from olympians to oscar award winning actors–have no doubt mastered the art of self-compassion as they ease their suffering as a means to perform at the highest level possible. A whole new world in mindfulness and contemplative science has opened up to me since coming to Compassion Institute.

    What is your biggest "Aha" moment with compassion?

    My “Aha” moment with compassion was simple yet effective. I came to understand that self-compassion allowed me to give myself what I was lacking—someone who could consistently be there for me—and allow me to turn that same behavior outwards towards others. This process doesn’t mean I’ve never had supportive people in my life, but my feelings of generally being alone and not being nurtured by others definitely began to melt away as I engaged in self-compassion and other compassion practices that foster connection. Since then, I have found I can more easily connect with others with ease and joy.

    What about compassion surprised you?

    I discovered that the idea that compassion is only about positivity is not true. Compassion is really about humanity—which includes everything about the human experience. These programs are not about telling you to think about being positive. Instead, courses like Building Compassion From the Inside Out provide tools and practices that help you to endure and relieve suffering with ease and heartfulness in your life and with others.

    What is the biggest impact compassion [training] has had on you, your life, and your community?

    I have tended to be a very anxious person and a perfectionist for much of my life. After taking compassion training courses from Compassion Institute, I learned how to manage the roots of that anxiety in the relationship between my suffering and my ability to relieve that suffering. For example, getting the perfect birthday present for someone at a party used to be a situation that could almost paralyze me. Now, I allow myself to think it over in a reasonable amount of time, put humanity into the gift and gesture, and let it go. In this practice, I’m better able to try to reach someone else in a positive way and feel good about connecting with others.

    What is an example or a personal story of impact that compassion [training] has had on you?

    Compassion training helped me to understand that kindness and positive treatment is not a score that needs to be balanced and reciprocated. Compassion need not be conditional. Instead, compassion is a renewable resource you can utilize to connect and uplift others.


    There were times I felt sensitive to how some friends felt unsupportive to me, so I’d only focus on fun times and pretend like our relationship problems did not exist. Now, I feel better able to connect with these same friends. This is because in their moments of struggle and suffering, I can now connect with the idea that they’re suffering and I can help without compromising my well-being. If someone says they’re having a tough day, I don’t feel burdened by their problems in any way. Instead, I view it as an opportunity to connect with them. That difference between taking on others’ burdens through empathy and getting fatigued vs. compassion and feeling renewed, as explained in this blog, has made a tremendously positive impact on my relationships.


    Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, compassion training constantly reminds me of new opportunities and ways to help and connect with others in my local community, networks, and anywhere. And that challenging myself to engage with these opportunities of compassion only improves my life.

    What would your friends, family, or co-workers say has changed about you?

    Most of my friends and family would say I have become more grounded and at ease in general—describing me as more “zen” or stable. Some others find it hard to believe that something like compassion training can have such a positive impact on you, but I welcome their skepticism and hope I can communicate how these concepts are universally human.

    How do you think the world could change if everyone had compassion training in school?

    Compassion training in schools could positively impact society and the world. In America, a lot of us have become very isolated with the suburban lifestyle and emphasis on individualism. Additionally, social media has created challenges for everyone in connecting with others. I believe compassion training would encourage community stewardship and would remind young people of their ability to connect with others and their humanity. We could balance out our hyper-competitive environments with the weight of others’ well-being. And finally, compassion offers us a unique opportunity in this unique global age to connect with others who seem incredibly different from us and learn that we are not so different after all.

    What component of CCT do you use most in your everyday life?

    From the 8-week Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT™) course, I often go back to two ideas I learned in these practices: finding a “compassionate image” and the Tonglen practice, a process of taking suffering from others and transforming it within ourselves.


    Finding a compassionate image like the vast ocean to use in meditative practice creates a psychological shortcut for me to feelings of calmness and peace. I also think of the sounds of nature like trees rustling in the wind or the ocean waves hitting the sand. Any of our inner senses works for me as someone who has a hard time visualizing. These thoughts help me ground quickly and feel connected to the present moment.


    And utilizing the practice of Tonglen at a basic level means I’m able to practice and place my feelings about people aside and engage with my heart on a human level. Wishing that others are free from suffering, regardless of who they are, is a relief for me. Something about this practice removes feelings of pressure and isolation because I am reminded others are going through suffering and that none of us are alone in having challenges in life.

    Is there anything else you'd like to share with others?

    Compassion is an incredible tool to fight loneliness, truly connect with others, and find common ground in an age where everything encourages us to do the opposite. Compassion helps us connect to our roots of what it means to be human.

    Explore the foundations of compassion in Building Compassion From the Inside Out, a 2-week self-paced course to help you find meaning, purpose, and joy.