Tennessee earns national recognition for compassion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State and that willingness to lend a hand has earned some national recognition.

A list of the most compassionate cities in the U.S. has Nashville ranked second.

The factors included giving to social causes, number of nonprofit organizations and number of volunteers, says Barbara Nicholson, co-founder of Nashville-based Attachment Parenting International.

“And I just see that there’s a lot of interest in helping families,” she adds. “So, I think it kind of reflects our motto for the whole state and maybe that mantra has really deeply permeated the people of Tennessee, and of Nashville.”

Washington is named the most compassionate city in the country. Also in the top five are Minneapolis, Denver and Birmingham.

When it comes to bringing up a child to be compassionate, Nicholson says it starts with a parent being attentive and responsive.

“And that is deeply imprinting on our babies that, you know, ‘My needs are important, that they’ll be met, that I’m comforted,'” she says. “And when you are treated in a compassionate way like that, it wires the brain to want to be compassionate with others.”

Nicholson notes it’s wonderful to be honored for compassion – when she says all too often, those underlying qualities are passed over when determining a city’s quality of life.

“I think that’s what’s really exciting to me and hopefully will be a big cultural shift,” she adds, “that we’re moving away from who’s the richest community to looking at other qualities that are equally, if not more important, in society.”