A Call to Compassion: Session recordings


A Call to Compassion was held December 6 to 10, 2021. It was a week-long event where experts across diverse disciplines shed insight on how compassion can transform your well-being, relationships, pursuit of meaning and inner peace, and your positive impact in the world.


Compassion to yourself and others has a ripple effect. Showing compassion motivates others to be compassionate and spread generosity and kindness to others. Further, studies show that compassion shifts how you view yourself and the world and can improve your physical health.

The week’s sessions include compassion’s power for changing lives, the connection between gratitude and compassion, compassion and emotional intelligence, awakening compassion, the science behind compassion, and overcoming self-judgment with compassion.

You can watch the recorded sessions below. BeWell wants to offer a special thank you to the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) for their partnership on the event.



James R. Doty, M.D.
Adjunct professor of neurosurgery, Stanford University
Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), Stanford University

The Power of Compassion to Change Lives

Scientific studies have now demonstrated that being compassionate has a profound effect on not only others but also on oneself. When one is self-compassionate, it changes how one views the world, but more importantly, it has a huge positive effect on a variety of physiologic parameters, including cardiac and peripheral vascular functions, the immune system, the production of inflammatory proteins and the immune system. It also changes how one views the world and its possibilities and has a ripple effect so that when one views another being compassionate, it motivates them to be compassionate.


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Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D.
Professor emeritus of psychology, University of California, Davis

Gratitude as a Wellspring to Compassion*

Gratitude, the affirmation and recognition of benefits received, is both a personal and social good. It’s valuable for the person who possesses it and for society at large. This way of being in the world encircles much of what we do and who we are. The power of gratitude derives from a need that is deeply entrenched in the human condition—the need to give thanks. Two decades of research has verified that gratitude generates a positive ripple effect through every area of our lives, potentially satisfying some of our deepest yearnings, including our desire for happiness, pursuit of better relationships, ability to make meaning out of suffering, and our ceaseless quest for inner peace, health, wholeness and contentment. Most importantly, gratitude for kindnesses received motivates and inspires even greater acts of kindness, compassion and generosity.

*This presentation contains content involving suicidal ideation which can be upsetting and may cause unique stress or discomfort for individuals with experiences of these or other forms of trauma. This is a voluntary engagement and if you feel you may have difficulty completing this presentation due to past or current traumatic experiences, please consider viewing other available presentations. 

If at any time you feel like you need to talk to someone you can contact the following suicide and crisis hotlines:

  • Santa Clara County: (855) 278-4204
  • San Mateo County: (650) 368-6655

Warm line for non-urgent mental health support: 1-855-845-7415

Faculty Staff Help Center at helpcenter@lists.stanford.edu or call 650)723-4577.


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Emma Seppala, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Yale School of Management
Faculty director, Yale School of Management’s Women’s Leadership Program

Compassion and Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to have self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and compassion. These qualities are key to success in both your personal and professional life. It is critical to develop in these chaotic times of human history. With greater emotional intelligence, we can learn to connect with one another in optimal ways that will lead to the greatest good for all.


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Monica Worline, Ph.D.
Faculty director, engaged learning and innovation, Center for Positive Organizations, University of Michigan
Research scientist, Center for Compassion and Altruism Research, Stanford University

Awakening Compassion at Work

While compassion is an innate human capacity that becomes visible early in life, it is also a skilled practice that can and must be honed and developed across our entire lives and careers. Leadership and work practices to awaken compassion often require artful ways to activate the undeveloped capacity for emotional awareness, self-awareness and relational connectedness that lie fallow in our work. Our workplaces can make the impulse to awaken compassion easier or harder through their structures and cultures. The pandemic has drawn attention to the need for workplaces to change their approaches to compassion and well-being and to remove the obstacles that get in our way of addressing our own suffering as well as that of our patients, clients, students and colleagues. This session will suggest new ways to think about organizational change through the lens of compassion and to remove what gets in the way of our being at our best together.


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Meag-gan O’Reilly, Ph.D.
Staff psychologist and program coordinate for outreach, equity and inclusion; counseling and psychological services (CAPS), Stanford University
Adjunct faculty, School of Medicine, Stanford University

Creating Fresh Possibilities Out of Impossible Fragile Conversations

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are proliferating for all the right reasons after this year of racial strife. However, the ideals of DEI and belonging begin with safety and trust in relationships. This presentation taps into the human part in all of us that replays missed connections in conversations and that wishes we could do it over.

Well, now you can! Or at least you can watch us demonstrate how to embark on difficult conversations and model personal authenticity within a framework of organizational accountability. Active listening is featured, and our panelists will illustrate the vulnerability, humility and empathy skills needed for one person to be entirely listening and for another to be completely heard. Our goal for this session is for participants to see in real time how respect, curiosity and connection heals from the inside out and is the prerequisite for the equitable world we are building together.


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Al’ai Alvarez, M.D.
Director of well-being, clinical assistant professor, emergency medicine, Stanford University
Fellowship director, Stanford Emergency Medicine Physician Wellness
Co-chair, Stanford WellMD Physician Wellness Forum

Overcoming Self-Judgment With Self-Compassion

In medicine, even with the best care and intentions, medical harm and bad outcomes still occur. Unfortunately, these affect not only the patients. Physicians and the rest of the care team experience vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma often leads to guilt or shame, which exacerbates one’s sense of being an imposter and the feeling of being not good enough, which leads to further isolation. Self-compassion allows for the creation of connections that help overcome isolation and loneliness in medicine.


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