I wondered today whether compassion is an antidote to a kind of lack of motivation, given that it remedies fear in the suttas, and often approach and avoidance are seen as opposite (e.g. fight or flight), and that in psychology compassion is linked with the reward system:
They [the researchers of the study] point out that a heightened sensitivity to suffering causes people to avoid that suffering because it doesn’t feel good; however, because the compassion training also seemed to strengthen the brain’s ability to regulate emotions, people may have been able to sense suffering without feeling overwhelmed by it. Instead, the care for others emphasized by the compassion training may have caused them to see suffering not as a threat to their own well-being but as an opportunity to reap the psychic rewards from achieving an important goal—namely, connecting with someone else and making him feel better.
“When your goal is to help another person, then your reward system will be activated when you’re meeting that goal,” says Weng.
By contrast, the reappraisal group’s goal was to decrease their own negative emotions, making them less inclined to be altruistic when confronted with someone else’s pain. “When you’re focused on decreasing your own negative emotions,” she says, “I think that makes you less focused on other people.”
I thus wonder whether compassion is said in the Buddhist tradition to increase motivation in general. I feel the Mahayana,which emphasizes compassion as primary quality with emptiness, appeals to householders historically in part because of this worldly quality of compassion.
Is there any evidence for compassion -- in the suttas or Buddhist tradition -- increasing motivation and energy aside from towards compassionate aims? In other words, does compassion increase drive in general?