Have some compassion

I overheard a conversation from my apartment window last night. One guy was scolding his friend, telling him that he’d be a much happier person if he weren’t so sensitive, and it lead me to think…

If people weren’t so sensitive, feelings would never be hurt and hearts would never be broken. There would be much smaller ramifications for mistakes, less penalties, less punishment, less guilt.

If people weren’t so sensitive, we wouldn’t have to make special accommodations for those with certain needs. We could save so much money on the construction of infrastructure and vehicles, and on the manufacturing of clothing and goods specially designed for the physically impaired and for the mentally challenged.  They wouldn’t care and neither would we.

If people weren’t so sensitive, the time and energy invested in therapy, mentoring, and conflict resolution could go towards research, development and production that is all conducted with the incentive of increasing profit margins and capital.

This could be our universal standard for the measurement of happiness! It would be relatively cut and dry, because everyone would know exactly how to achieve it.

Too bad we’re not machines.

Robert Plutchik was a professor and psychologist who did extensive research on emotions, and is credited for having contributed one of the leading theories on the psychoevolutionary theory of emotion. According to Plutchik, there are 8 primary emotions and has its bipolar opposite: joy versus sadness, anger versus fear, trust versus disgust, and surprise versus anticipation. The emotions in the white space represent those that are a mix of the two “primary” emotions and the colors coordinate with the range of intensities.

taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Plutchik


I can’t find compassion on the diagram—but maybe that’s because Plutchik didn’t think that it is really a feeling so much as it is a state of mind. Perhaps he would agree that sensitivity is not code for “weak,” but is rather more synonymous with “compassionate,” and is the first requisite for experiencing any of the other beautiful colors.

Who wants to be yellow all the time, anyways?


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