According to researchers, compassion is a natural instinctive behavior, and not necessarily only a learned or cultivated behavior. Compassion is not just an emotional response to the perception of another's suffering. Compassion goes beyond that and is the action that is motivated by this emotion. Many people confuse the terms empathy and compassion. Empathy is feeling the pain "with" and "for" someone else who is experiencing suffering or a negative situation, but compassion is the action of actually attempting to alleviate that suffering. Therefore, compassion can be OBSERVED and actually quantified in human behavior.
Because it is an "action" one would think that compassion is a learned behavior, but interestingly enough, researchers have found that compassion has been demonstrated by infants who have no expectation of behavior models from which to have learned this, and they have no expectation of reward. According to an article in the Association of Psychological Science, "Michael Tomasello and other scientists at the Max Planck Institute, in Germany, have found that infants and chimpanzees spontaneously engage in helpful behavior and will even overcome obstacles to do so. They apparently do so from intrinsic motivation without expectation of reward. A recent study they ran indicated that infants’ pupil diameters (a measure of attention) decrease both when they help and when they see someone else helping, suggesting that they are not simply helping because helping feels rewarding. It appears to be the alleviation of suffering that brings reward — whether or not they engage in the helping behavior themselves."
Wow! That's good news for humanity, because the converse of that is that one would have to make the conscious choice to NOT show compassion. In other words, we have a better chance of being compassionate than not. Not showing compassion runs counter to our human nature, and what a wonderful thought to ponder; When we are showing compassion, we are being more true to ourselves than ever. Is there someone hurting around you today, this week, this month? Go ahead and put that empathy into action, exercise compassion, and be true to your own God-given human nature.