Making a Difference Through Applied Compassion

Making a Difference Through Applied Compassion


Feeling the urge to heal division in the world? Become an Ambassador of Compassion.

“We live in a world with so much division and suffering. Just wishing for a more compassionate world is no longer sufficient. Taking deliberate action to apply compassion that effects change and alleviates suffering is how we can heal this world.” —James R. Doty, MD | Founder & Director of CCARE at Stanford University

As we emerge from the long shadow of the pandemic, many people feel a calling to heal the division and suffering that is ever-present in today’s world. While we all have ideas of how we’d like to bring more compassion and kindness into our lives, we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure about how to effect real change.

The Applied Compassion Training (ACT) at Stanford University is for anyone seeking to bring compassionate action into all aspects of their life. At once an educational training and a profound, transformational experience, this Stanford training teaches participants how applying compassion can lead to tremendous personal and professional growth.

Graduates of this program are creating meaningful change in the world by bringing their compassion training back to their communities, workplaces, and families, setting an ever-expanding circle of change into motion.

ACT is the flagship program of CCARE, Stanford Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. CCARE was born in 2008 when the Dalai Lama made his largest donation to a non-Tibetan cause. Dr. James Doty, clinical professor of neurosurgery, established the center to study the physiological and psychological impact of compassionate behavior through rigorous scientific research and collaboration.

“In the busy modern world, it’s easy to forget what is at the core of our humanity, and what’s at the core is compassion,” Dr. Doty said. “And when that is always at the surface of everything we do as humans, it profoundly affects every aspect of our lives.” Research has shown that compassion has a tremendous impact on education, business, healthcare, and other endeavors, Dr. Doty said. “When we apply compassion, it has a significant impact on the greater good.”

The ACT program’s hi-touch live online format attracts participants from all walks of life and professions, and from all around the world. Participants in this year’s cohort come from more than 40 countries.

For many participants, ACT is a personal transformation journey, a chance to walk their talk, as they deliberately practice seeding compassion where they work and live.

What ACT participants share is a deep desire to grow both personally and professionally and then to use that growth to positively impact and inspire the people around them. Through this ripple effect, ACT graduates, who become known as “Ambassadors of Compassion,” apply compassion throughout their professions, organizations, communities, and lives.

During the 11-month training, ACT participants learn to apply evidence-based compassion principles and practices towards themselves and others. Each participant designs and delivers an Applied Compassion Project in a setting where they would like to effect change. Participants are guided every step of the way by an ACT mentor and a small group of ACT peers who support the development of their project and provide appreciative feedback.

Some compassion projects are intended to reach larger audiences, while others are aimed at smaller or more intimate audiences, but each project is celebrated and infused with the principles and pillars of applied compassion. From helping 20,000 people within the largest healthcare system in South Africa, to supporting new mothers navigate the challenges of parenthood, to working with burnout in corporations, to supporting students dealing with unprecedented anxiety, our Stanford ACT Ambassadors of Compassion have found their calling as an immense force of good in the world.

Professionals, parents, retirees, and advocates from all walks of life have participated in ACT. People from Google, Salesforce, Stanford Hospital, and Genentech are among those who have received training, along with representatives of the European Commission.

Since the start of ACT, nearly 400 participants from over 40 countries have completed the program and embarked on their unique journeys to infuse their lives with compassion and experience the personal rewards of living a more compassionate life.

The Applied Compassion Training is for anyone seeking to impact the lives of people they interact with every day, including those at work, in their communities and in their families.

If you’d like to make a significant difference in the world, consider becoming an Ambassador of Compassion through Stanford’s Applied Compassion Training and see your impact grow! Visit to learn more.


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