When you are in a conversation, do you listen with your own autobiographical filter? Or do you listen to actually understand the speaker?
When I say empathic listening, I mean listening with intent to understand. I mean seeking first to understand, to really understand. It's an entirely different paradigm. Empathic (from empathy) listening gets inside another person's frame of reference. You look out through it, you see the world the way they see the world, you understand their paradigm, you understand how they feel.
Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is a form of agreement, a form of judgment. And it is sometimes the more appropriate emotion and response. But people often feed on sympathy. It makes them dependent. The essence of empathic listening is not that you agree with someone; it's that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually.
Empathic listening involves much more than registering, reflecting, or even understanding the words that are said.
Let me ask you something… How are you? I have a point, I promise. Again, how are you? To answer, you might say, “fine,” “good” or “well thanks for asking.” The exchange is more of a casual ice-breaker of sorts and not necessarily a genuine invitation to share any form of emotional depth. The question is often relegated to a verbal handshake, a necessary ritual to begin a conversation. That’s my point. Today, organizations in large part, take emotion for granted. “How was our service today?” It’s a superficial exchange that sets impressions for the moment rather than investing in long-term experiences. Now, what if I asked you, “how are you feeling?” Add one word and you unlock a vault of emotion and valuable dialogue. In a social economy where paying it forward and reciprocity serve as the currency of relationships, emotional exchanges form strong ties. It takes asking, listening, and responding to instill trust and a sense of meaning into any engagement. What you walk away with however is priceless; for you now have felt empathy. And, empathy is the secret ingredient to feeling the need for transformation…the inspiration to find a creative or passionate spark to design new and significant experiences. The key for you however, is to package what it is you feel and translate it into a set of relatable and relevant objectives, pragmatic steps in how to achieve them, and defined metrics that demonstrate progress and performance. Your inspiration will at some point inspire others around you and they will feel it as a result of your work. The truth is that the answers you seek lie in engagement, listening, and the empathy that surfaces as a result. Leadership unfolds in how you translate what you learn and feel into appreciation and understanding. The state of sentiment as experienced and expressed by those that matter to you directly correlates to the state of relationships. Leadership begins with a vision for not only where you want to go, but why it’s important to those you care about.
"The most successful entities will reflect integrated yin and yang leadership styles. This means integration of great analytics and logical rigor (yang) with perceptive intuition, compassion, mindfulness of relationships, and an emphasis on happiness and subjective well-being (yin). One or the other is not enough; both are required for true quality growth."
In The Story of Change: Annie Leonord, who was a judge in our Possible Futures Film Contest, encourages us to be, as Gandhi said, the change we wish to see in the world.
There are three things you find whenever people get together and change the world:
1. They share a BIG Idea + they go right to the heart of the problem to change systems 2. They shift from "me" to "WE" 3. They took ACTION.
The piece we are currently missing in creating “a new economy that puts safe products, happy people and a healthy planet first” is the action element. We need to work together to create a brighter future, and we all are an important part of the solution. The Story of Change highlights six different types of change-makers:
Ancient Buddhist stories tell of Mara, the Buddhist personification of temptation and distraction, approaching the Buddha. Each time, the Buddha simply says, “Mara, I see you,” and Mara flees. Because the Buddha knew Mara thoroughly, his act of clear seeing was effective in bringing freedom.
Anyone who practices mindfulness knows that there are forces in the mind that can make it difficult to be mindful. Beyond the 5 Hindrances (cloning, aversion, sleepiness, restless, and doubt), simple inherited beliefs about the nature of the world obscure our minds from seeing the truth. En route to discovering my authentic self, I'm working to cut through clouded perspectives with a little scientific inquiry.
Luckily, the editors over at Edge.org asked some of the most influential thinkers in the world — including neuroscientists, physicists and mathematicians — what they believe are the most important scientific concepts of the modern era.
The result is "This Will make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts To Improve Your Thinking," a compilation of nearly 200 essays exploring concepts such as the "shifting baseline syndrome" and a scientific view of "randomness."
Be sure to wrap your head around these very important concepts:
Important Scientific Concepts for Truth + Beauty:
Our brains can only hold so much information at once before we stop retaining what we're learning. It's true. Accept it.
Contingent Superorganisms ￼"Biologists have joined with social scientists to form an altruism debunkery society" — pushing the belief that every altruistic act is done in self-interest. But a new concept, "contingent superorganisms," says that we live life on a few different hierarchies. The idea is that when you reach a higher level, you are willing to put the success of the group or a higher cause above one's own. This is what drives militaries, fire departments, and rock bands. Imagine how this could apply if we all acted for a common good on the planet.
"All the 'magic' of cognition depends, just as life itself does, on cycles within cycles of re-current, reflexive information-transformation processes, from the biochemical scale within the neuron to the whole brain sleep cycle, waves of cerebral activity and recovery revealed by EEGs."
The belief that there is much more time before us than has already elapsed. This creates a more expansive view of the world and the potential of the universe. "Our sun is less than halfway through its life. It formed 4.5 billion years ago, but it's got 6 billion more years before the fuel runs out."
Failure Liberates Success
"Failure is not something to be avoided but something to be cultivated. ... It is a sign of weakness and often a stigma that prohibits second chances. ... Yet the rise in the West is in many respects due to the rise in tolerating failure.
Fixed Action Patterns
Some behaviors we exhibit we blame on instinct. But what we believe to be instinct may, in fact, be learned behavior over time — or a "fixed-action pattern." This has many implications, including the fact that, as rational creatures, we can change what we believe to be instinctive. "Given an understanding of our fixed-action pattern, and those of the individuals with whom we interact we — as humans with cognitive processing powers — could begin to rethink our behavior patterns."
We often believe that a certain, different set of circumstances would dramatically change our lives. But the truth is, factors like income and health are less indicative of overall happiness. "The mismatch in the allocation of attention between thinking about a life condition and actually living it is the cause of the focusing illusion."
"Holism is colloquially described as 'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.' ... Perhaps the most impressive is that carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, and a few other elements, mixed in just the right way, yield life. ... There is a kind of awesome synergy between the parts." Just look at DNA, and other much broader systems, like cities, that operate only if each individual element does its part. "Holism does not come naturally. It is an appreciation not of the simple but of the complex."
Kaleidoscopic Discovery Engine
The greatest insights and inventions are the product of multiple people. It's never just a single person; everyone's standing on someone's shoulders. "In hindsight we often find that if one scientist did not make a particular discovery, some other individual would have done so within a few months or years of the discovery. ... We are reluctant to believe that great discoveries are part of a discovery kaleidoscope and are mirrored in numerous individuals at once." Let this be encouragement to collaborate and cooperate!
In zero-sum games, there's a clear winner and a clear loser. In positive-sum games, "everyone wins." "In a positive-sum game, a rational, self-interested actor may benefit the other actor with the same choice that benefits himself or herself." Some competition will always be zero-sum — such as the competition for mates.
Pessimism Meta-induction Theories from bygone eras have turned out to be wrong, we must assume that most of today's theories will eventually prove incorrect as well." Accepting the belief that many of our theories are "fundamentally provisional and quite possibly wrong," we can better listen to and empathize with others' ideas. Don't get attached to what you think you know!
Shifting Baseline Syndrome
The belief that what we perceive is what's normal, not taking into account the full extend of the past nor potential for future events. The syndrome is named after scientist Daniel Pauly, who said that each generation accepts "as a baseline the stock size and species composition that occurred at the beginning of their careers, and uses this to evaluate changes. When the next generation starts its career, the stocks have further declined, but it is the stocks at that time that serve as the new baseline." Therefore what is "normal" is constantly changing.
Subselves and the Modular Mind
The belief that we have a single self is false. In fact, we have multiple identities, or "subselves." "Each of us has a set of functional subselves — one dedicated to getting along with our friends, one dedicated to self-protection, one dedicated to winning status, another to finding mates.
Umwelt is the idea that we blindly accept the reality of the world around us. "It would be useful if the concept of the umwelt were embedded in the public lexicon. It neatly captures that idea of limited knowledge, of unobtainable information, of unimagined possibilities."
Understanding these concepts not only allows you to improve your thinking, but more importantly, see the world as it truly is and possibly even liberate ourselves from cycles of chasing illusions and avoiding statistically improbable fears. So go melt your umwelt and chase your wildest dreams in a reality of true possibility!
“Content curation is the natural evolution of our globally networked consciousness. This sounds like a bunch of hippie drivel, but we really are creating a global brain, of sorts, by encoding human knowledge and tracking human activity. Using the human nodes of this network to strengthen some of these connections while weakening others (by choosing either to pass along i.e., ‘curate’ information or not to pass it along) helps this global brain function better as a system, which in turn increases its power whenever any of us need to tap into it."
I practice meditation because it keeps me centered, brings me back to my intention and joy, and enhances my capacity to be present with people I love. Don't take my word for it though, check out the studies:
"Both of these studies appeared in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal's most recent issue - online and open access. The first study looks at how mindfulness, each brief sessions, can improve attentional control. The second study looks at how mindfulness practice improves the recall of positively-associated memories, with a corresponding decrease in depression and anxiety."
Give it a try! If you're a beginner, just sit and count your breaths slowly for 2 minutes. See how that feels!
CLIMATE CHANGE is staring us in the face. The science is clear, and the need to reduce planet-warming emissions has grown urgent. So why, collectively, are we doing so little about it?
Yes, there are political and economic barriers, as well as some strong ideological opposition, to going green. But researchers in the burgeoning field of climate psychology have identified another obstacle, one rooted in the very ways our brains work. ...
We have trouble imagining a future drastically different from the present. We block out complex problems that lack simple solutions.
... energy monitors that displayed consumption levels in real-time cut energy use by an average of 7 percent, according to a study in the journal Energy in 2010. Telling heavy energy users how much less power their neighbors consumed prompted them to cut their own use, according to a 2007 study in Psychological Science. And trading on our innate laziness, default settings have also conserved resources: when Rutgers University changed its printers’ settings to double-sided, it saved more than seven million sheets of paper in one semester in 2007.
Brendan Griffen created a giant network of people, using every profile on Wikipedia that had an "influenced by" or "influences" field. Each node represents a person and is sized by the number of links going in and is colored by genre.
It really is fascinating (to me at least) to start at one node and bounce along the connections to a distantly related someone else. People in philosophy influencing fantasy writers who influence comedians. It shows one thing above all: the evolution of ideas is a non-linear process. We too, are somewhere in this web, albeit at a smaller scale. We too, are the sum of many.
Contrary to popular belief, there are no rules for revolutionaries…just as there are no leaders who don’t continually strive to earn a position of leadership. It takes courage to be a change agent, to rise up and lead the way when others are filled with fear. It takes courage to walk in a different direction when others walk along a contrasting path. Most important, it takes courage to drive persistence to overcome resistance…to find comfort outside your comfort zone when the promise of reward is ambiguous. For, it is the vision to see where you need to go and the conviction to shepherd the march toward relevance that earns the greatest rewards of all, leadership, significance, and advocacy. This is your time…
In Evolutionary Enlightenment, we win our spiritual liberation through the experiential recognition that who we really are is not separate from the primordial energy and intelligence that created the universe. We experience that energy and intelligence as what I call the evolutionary impulse—the life-positive, perpetually creative inspiration that compels human beings to strive to give rise to new potentials. The realization that “I am the energy and intelligence that created the universe and not merely a psychological ego” is the fundamental insight that liberates the self in the new evolutionary spirituality.
Traditional mysticism, in contrast, is fundamentally about the experience of transcendence. Enlightenment, as the great traditions teach it, is about cultivating the experience of freedom from the body, freedom from the mind and emotions, freedom from the world. In the new evolutionary mysticism, we no longer seek freedom from this incarnate existence because the source of spiritual liberation is the realization that “I am the energy and intelligence that created the universe.” We find that we want to be here, as ourselves, in the world, so we can consciously create the future as an agent of that impulse itself.
Nothing incredible is accomplished alone. You need others to help you, and you need to help others. With the right team, you can form a web of connections to make the seemingly impossible practically inevitable.
In a near-future science fiction novel, human intelligence evolves into a hivemind that makes people the violent cells of a collective being.
Adam Roberts inquires into the phenomenon we call "hive mind":
"Are our electronic technologies on the verge of enabling truly collective human intelligence? And if that happens, will we like the results?… In short, [soldiers equipped with advanced electronic communications technologies] behave like a slime mold, which changes size, splits and combines, according to need, in such a way that it's hard to say whether the slime mold is one big thing or a bunch of little things. Slime molds and social insects behave with an intelligence that ought to be impossible for such apparently simple organisms, but, as Steven Johnson points out in his fascinating book Emergence, simple organisms obeying simple rules can collectively manifest astonishingly complex behavior…. New Model Army presents us with a question: What happens when human beings, not just slime molds or ants, submit themselves to collective will and become part of an immense shared intelligence? If complex behavior can simply "emerge" through the simple decisions of simple creatures, what might happen if much more complex creatures become absorbed into a collectivity?... The first answer that science-fiction fans are likely to give is: The Borg. Which is to say, the prospect of any single human intelligence being lost in a collective mind fills us with fear. We fear that the transcending of human intelligence will also mark the transcending of human feeling, that all of our familiar and deeply-treasured ideas about what constitutes human flourishing will be simply cast aside by a superior intelligence that has other and supposedly greater concerns…. What if this is the Singularity? Not simply our machines becoming smarter than we are, but the machines we use to communicate with one another enabling our own translation to a supposedly "higher" sphere of being?"
In this article, author Alan Jacobs makes a case for the importance of cultivating wisdom and consciousness to match our technological capacities. As we grow in the strength of our technological tools and weapons, can we expand our empathy, apply the intelligence of the heart-mind, and strengthen our integrity even more?
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