As a result a more empathetic brain will have more difficulty behaving in a violent way. While attending the sleep over party, my brain pathways likely fired in a way that found it too difficult to be mean to the new girl.
Various versions of interesting studies reveal that babies as young as 5 months old can demonstrate empathy skills. However, due to a variety of situations and circumstances some children do not experience the ideal serve and return relationships early in life. A child that does not experience the give and take of a relationship is simply not going to develop the brain connections for seeing things from another person’s point of view.
How mindfulness training helps build a foundational social and emotional skill
I wanted to reflect a bit on empathy and mindfulness. Humans are social beings and positive relationships are important for our happiness. Empathy is a capacity that allows us to understand the minds of others and to resonate emotionally with those states.
Empathy forms a cornerstone of social cooperation.
As you probably have heard, mindfulness has been linked to a range of positive effects and is being integrated into medicine,2 mental health3 and education.4 Here, I address two important questions:
First, what’s the relationship between mindfulness and empathy?
When I asked Roman Krznaric, author of Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It, his thoughts on the intersection of management and empathy, he said:
“Empathy in the modern workplace is not just being able to see things from another’s perspective—it’s the cornerstone of good teamwork, smart leadership and innovative design.
With increasing automation, the real comparative advantage of the human worker will be their capacity to create relationships, both inside and outside firms—and that means empathy will count more than ever. Let’s forget recruiting employees simply on the basis of their professional qualifications or their Myers-Briggs scores: give them an empathy test and fill your organization with emotional intelligence.
Daniel Reisel studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). And he asks a big question: Instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn’t we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate?
Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury … could we help the brain re-grow morality?
Increased Grey Matter/Cortical Thickness in the following key areas: • Anterior Cingulate Cortex: Increased grey matter changes were noted in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which is a structure located behind the brain’s frontal lobe. It has been associated with such functions as self-regulatory processes, including the ability to monitor attention conflicts, and allow for more cognitive flexibility.
• Prefrontal Cortex: Increased grey matter density was also found in areas of the prefrontal lobe, which are primarily responsible for executive functioning such as planning, problem solving, and emotion regulation.
• Hippocampus: Increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus has also been noted. The hippocampus is the part of the limbic system that governs learning and memory, and is extraordinarily susceptible to stress and stress-related disorders like depression or PTSD.
Decreased Amygdala Size: Studies have shown that the amygdala, known as our brain’s “fight or flight” center and the seat of our fearful and anxious emotions, decreases in brain cell volume after mindfulness practice. Diminished or enhanced functionality in certain networks/connections:
Not only does the amygdala shrink post mindfulness practice, but the functional connections between the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex are weakened. This allows for less reactivity, and also paves the way for connections between areas associated with higher order brain functions to be strengthened (i.e. attention, concentration, etc.).
Reduced activity in the Brain’s “Me” Center: Mindfulness practice has been implicated in the decreased activation and the stilling of our Default Mode Network (DMN), which is also sometimes referred to as our wandering “Monkey Minds.”
Stepping into other people’s shoes has been a catalytic force for social change throughout human history.
You can always tell when a good idea has come of age: people start criticising it. That’s certainly the case when it comes to empathy.
Empathy is a more popular concept today than at any time since the eighteenth century, when Adam Smith argued that the basis of morality was our imaginative capacity for “changing places in fancy with the sufferer.” Neuroscientists, happiness gurus, education policy-makers and mediation experts have all been singing its praises.
As a business leader, here are some ways to harness empathy and make it your superpower, too:
1. Use empathy to create your vision. Empathy is commonly explained by the phrase "walk a mile in someone else's shoes." But it's more than just that. It's walking side by side with someone, listening with intent, and using the knowledge gained to create your vision.
2. Use empathy to become mission-driven....3. Use empathy to inspire loyalty....4. Use empathy as a your default communication tool....
Aggression should be weeded out of the human race and replaced by empathy, according to renowned physicist professor Stephen Hawking.
"The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory, or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.
"A major nuclear war would be the end of civilisation, and maybe the end of the human race. The quality I would most like to magnify is empathy. It brings us together in a peaceful, loving state."
A romantic relationship is a fitting harbor for empathy.
According to attachment theory, in a relationship, both partners regulate each other’s blood pressure, heart rates, breathing, and the levels of hormones in one another’s blood.
When two people join together and become attached, they establish one physiological unit and are no longer separate entities in this regard (Levine and Heller 2010). Moreover, we are constantly in tune with our partner whether we like it or not...
Getting to a place where you can genuinely empathize with your partner may not always be easy or feel natural, especially if you are experiencing your own obstacles. Yet if you keep in mind the effects – relationship stability, being completely in sync with your partner, and receiving appeciation in return – you may see that demonstrating empathy becomes effortless.
Can you feel that? It's called empathy and it's having a moment. Experts have discovered that putting yourself in someone else's shoes is not just an important life skill, it's also intrinsic to happiness.Author Brene Brown calls empathy a 'sacred space' where you climb down into another person's hurt.
This is crucial because it fosters connection – something sympathy alone can't do. If that seems a little touchy-feely, stay with me, because the virtue traditionally associated with shoulder squeezes and self-sacrifice is more powerful – and surprising - than you think.
Practice committed, non-reactive listening by tuning in to the deeper levels of their message.Move away from right and wrong thinking.When you notice judgments in the mind, remind yourself about “different strokes for different folks.”Become more tolerant and accepting of the values and styles of others.Make room for the full range of intense feelings in yourself and others: fear, hurt, confusion, anger, sadness, grief, shame, guilt, joy, and happiness.Resist giving advice even if it’s solicited.Bring forth warmth, affection, and your open heart....
In order to live a meaningful, purposeful, positive life, it is imperative to cultivate empathy - here are 3 ways you can boost your empathy levels now.
Many recent events have caused me to think a bit more deeply about empathy, and more specifically, on how, though the decline in empathy is increasingly concerning, we possess the ability to cultivate empathy and evolve as human beings.
Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings, which is not a simple immediate choice, but a consistent set of choices and deliberate effort to educate ourselves and look closer and beyond. In fact, it takes looking in the mirror.
When we experience empathy we feel what we believe are the emotions of another. Empathy promotes prosocial behavior. For social beings, negotiating interpersonal decisions is as important to survival as being able to navigate the physical landscape.
Empathy motivates individual behavior that aids in solving communal challenges as well as guide group decisions about social exchange. Its influence extends beyond relating to someone else’s emotions, it correlates with an increased positive state and likeliness to aid others.
What is Empathy?Is Empathy a Sign of Maturity?Can Empathy be Learned?Methods that Increase EmpathyDr. Jeffrey Rubin
Daniel Goleman talks with Greater Good about his new book, A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama's Vision for Our World.
The Dalai Lama has a long history of meeting and collaborating with social scientists—psychologists, neuroscientists, economists, and others looking to understand the science of human emotions and behavior. Through these collaborations, he has learned about the research in this area and has encouraged scientists to pursue fields of inquiry more directly aimed at serving the public good.
Compassion is the most transforming energy in the universe with everything we all long for – kindness, caring, loving. It is a courageous state of mind and heart, with far-reaching consequences in terms of how we experience ourselves and reality…
Does research supports the value of practicing Compassion?
Yes. Scientific research shows that being compassionate can improve health, well-being, relationships and sense of purpose.
Compassion can be cultivated by meditation practice and offers many benefits:
Strengthens brain circuits for pleasure and reward and leads to lasting increases in self-reported happinessReduces risk of heart disease by boosting the positive effects of the vagus nerveMakes people more resilient to stress; lowers stress hormones in the blood and salivaBoosts the immune responseIncreases Positive emotion, decreases ruminationDecreases negative emotions such as: hatred, jealousy, angerEnhances communication and connection with others so better relationshipsMore compassionate people / parents / workers / societies have better social skills, take care of their most vulnerable members, assist other nations in need, and perform more acts of kindness.
Via Edwin Rutsch
As we turn our awareness to the shift from “me” to “we,” we are faced with the joys and sorrows of maintaining healthy relationships. Supported by both Buddhism and Western psychology, the keys to healthy relationships include not only empathy and compassion, but also the assertive strength and boundaries that allow us to keep our heart open. These states of mind are based on underlying states of your brain. The emerging integration of modern neuroscience and ancient contemplative wisdom offers increasingly skillful means for activating those brain states--and thus for cultivating a caring heart, effective communication, balance during upsets and more fulfilling relationships.
Empathy is getting a lot of press these days. But with a culture of extreme individualism where online interactions outnumber in-person conversations, it can be hard to cultivate an empathetic mind-meld.
But the benefits of strong empathic skills are legion: first, you’ll understand the motivations and needs of people around you. People’s actions, no matter how wacky, will start to make sense (“Well, duh, if that happened to me I’d probably act like that, too.”), which will in turn make you less judgy and defensive - and that will make you less stressed out....
So how can we build our empathetic muscle? Here are 6 ways to practice:
Method #1: Read More (Especially Literature)...Method #2: Be a Mirror...Method #3: Question the Golden Rule...Method #4: Turn the Tables...Method #5: Use These 3 Magic Phrase (But Only if They're True) ...Method #6: Let Your Heart Break...
Starts talking about empathy and empathic listening at 40:30, discusses presence from 42:00 to end. Transcript: "You've heard much in this conference about the skill of empathic listening. I simply want to underscore what has been said because I believe that it plays a large part in our future. I come to believe that a very sensitive listening is one of the most powerful forces for growth that I know.
When I can let myself enter softly and delicately, the vulnerable inner world of the other person. When I can temporarily lay aside my views and values and prejudices. When I can let myself be at home in the fright, the concern, the pain, the anger, the tenderness, the confusion, which fills his or her life. When I can move about in that inner world without making judgments,. When I can see that world with fresh unfrightened eyes. When I can check the accuracy of my sensing's with him or her being guided by the responses I receive.
Then I can be a companion to that inner person, pointing to the felt meanings of what is being experienced. Then I find myself to be a true helper, a welcome companion, and aid to growth and help.
Listening seems such a easy word, I find it a lifetime task to achieve true listening and a task well worth the effort.
There is another very subtle factor in the healing relationship which I have experienced and that I would call presence. It is certainly known to physicians. ..... I to have experienced this. When I am at my best as a group facilitator, or a therapist, I discover this characteristic. I find that when I am closest to my inner intuitive self, when I am somehow in touch with the unknown in me, when perhaps I am in a slightly altered state of consciousness, then what ever I do seems to be full of healing. Then simply my presence is releasing and helpful....
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