DAY OF COMPASSION ACTIVITY
Students will be asked to participate in a Day of Compassion during which they will strive to practice compassion throughout their daily activities. Students will document their experience via notes, voice memos, photography, and/or video to be shared in a presentation with the rest of the class.
To complete this assignment, choose a day that will be your “Day of Compassion” and try your absolute best to live each minute of that day as compassionately as possible. In other words, for a full 24-hour period, do your best to reduce suffering of others, help those in need, be considerate and respectful, and avoid causing harm to any living being.
Part I: Participate in the Day of Compassion When carrying out this assignment, leave no behavior unexamined — from watching TV to eating lunch to decisions about giving time or money to others. That is, don’t limit yourself to simply holding the door open for a stranger or petting a lonely dog; think about all the unnecessary suffering in the world, and strive for the greatest impact and deepest level of compassion without being phony or insincere. It is up to you to define what compassion is and to decide how best to realize it.
If you are already quite compassionate, try being compassionate toward groups you don’t often focus on, and even if your actions don’t differ much from how you normally behave, be sure to carefully observe and analyze what transpires during the experience. If outside events make it difficult for you to participate on the day you chose, or if you feel dissatisfied with your performance of the assignment, feel free to repeat the exercise on a later day.
Note: To minimize any bias in social reactions, it is best if you do not tell others about the class assignment until after the Day of Compassion is over.
Part II: Present Your Experience Present a social psychological analysis of what the day was like. Here are a few sample questions you might address:
· How did you define compassion, and who were the recipients of your efforts?
· If your behavior was different than normal, which person did you like more: the “Day of Compassion you” or the “normal you”? If you preferred the “Day of Compassion you,” what are the psychological factors that prevent this “you” from coming out?
· What are the psychological costs and benefits of behaving compassionately? In your view, do the benefits outweigh the costs?
· How did others respond to your compassion? Do you think they noticed a difference in your behavior? What attributions did people make for your behavior, and why?
· If you wanted to encourage others to behave as you did during the Day of Compassion, what psychological techniques would you use? How can social psychology be used to foster a more compassionate society?
· If you were to predict your behavior one month from now, do you think it will be changed in any way as a result of participating in the Day of Compassion? If so, how? If not, why not?