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Empathy as a choice | The Moral Universe, Scientific American Blog Network

Empathy as a choice | The Moral Universe, Scientific American Blog Network | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

About 250 years ago, Adam Smith famously described the way observers might feel watching a tightrope walker.  Even while standing on solid ground, our palms sweat and our hearts race as someone wobbles hundreds of feet in the air (you can test this out here).  In essence, we experience this person’s state as our own.


Centuries later, this definition does a surprisingly good job at capturing scientific models of empathy.  Evidence from across the social and natural sciences suggests that we take on others’ facial expressions, postures, moods, and even patterns of brain activity.  This type of empathy is largely automatic.  For instance, peopleimitate others’ facial expressions after just a fraction of a second, often without realizing they’re doing so. Mood contagion likewise operates under the surface.  Therapists often report that, despite their best efforts, they take on patients’ moods, consistent with evidence from a number of studies.


One tempting conclusion about automatic behaviors is that are also “dumb:” occurring whenever the right stimulus comes along.  On this view, empathy is the emotional equivalent of a patellar reflex: while observing someone’s emotions, you can’t help but take those emotions on yourself.  Intuitive as it may be, a “reflex model” glosses a vital feature of empathy: it is often a choice.  Even if others’ emotions rub off on us automatically, this process is only set in motion if we decide to put ourselves in a position for empathy to occur.  And that decision is anything but automatic.  Instead, people frequently make deliberate choices to avoid others’ emotions, in attempts to stave off the discomfort or costs of empathy.

One of my favorite studies on this topic—a long forgotten gem from 1979—measured empathy by circumference.  Mark Pancer and his colleagues set up a table in a busy tunnel at the University of Saskatchewan, and secretly measured the distance people kept from the table while walking past.  They manipulated two features of the situation.  The first was whether or not the table had a box placed on it requesting charitable donations.  The second was who was manning the table: (i) no one, (ii) an undergraduate, or (iii) an undergraduate sitting in a wheelchair.  Both the request to donate and the presence of a handicapped person were considered triggers to empathy.  Instead of approaching these triggers, however, students avoided them: walking a wider arc around the table in the presence of either trigger, and keeping the greatest distance in the face of both the handicapped student and donation box.


In a more recent study along the same lines, Daryl Cameron and Keith Payne examined the well-known “collapse of compassion.” Cameron and Payne told participants about the suffering of children in the wake of Darfur’s civil war, and showed them pictures of either one or eight of these children.  Critically, they told some participants that—after viewing these pictures—they would have a chance to donate money to help these children.  Participants who believed they would be put on the spot to donate felt less empathy for eight children than for one, consistent with the idea that they purposefully “turned down” their empathy when empathizing could prove costly.


Together, these studies suggest that instead of automatically taking on others’ emotions, people make choices about whether and how much to engage in empathy.  Pancer and Cameron’s observations at first appear bleak—people shut down empathy when it might cost them—but I think they paint a more encouraging picture.  For instance, Paul Bloom recently argued that empathy is a bad guide for decision-making, precisely because it is a slave to triggers such as images of others’ suffering.  On Bloom’s reasoning, this means that empathy will often drive irrational choices based on emotions: for instance, helping a single suffering child we see on television while ignoring countless others who receive less press.  Although Bloom is right in many cases, if empathy is a choice, then people can presumably learn to use it when they know it is most important.  For instance, people could decide to “turn up” empathy for victims with whom they might not immediately connect (a suggestion made earlier by Daryl Cameron as well).  Broadly speaking, empathy we can control is empathy we can co-opt to help others as much as possible.

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Connecting With Compassion

Dreaming in Giraffe

I recently received an email from someone sharing their NVC dreams, hopes and goals. She asked, "what are some of the NVC leadership dreams that some other people have?" This stimulated in me the following response:

When I let myself dream really big, I see hundreds of thousands of practice
groups in the world. Like AA, you can arrive in any city of the world, consult a guide and find a place to practice NVC in a community of support.

I see a million certified trainers (or trainers with that skill and
consciousness, regardless of affiliation with CNVC)

I also see NVC TV, movies, music, media.

I see a Criminal and Civil Justice system based on a restorative model, not a punitive model.

I see a world where ALL people's basic needs are met with relative certainty. Meeting needs is the sure path to a peaceful model of conflict revolution.

I see the opportunity to live an immersion experience, a Global NVC Training
Center where people can come and learn to integrate NVC more deeply into their lives.

I see a network of NVC Communities around the planet.

I see a network of NVC based Senior Citizen centers, tapping the consciousness
and social change potential of Baby boomers done with accumulation and ready for

I see a network of schools at all levels teaching and living NVC.

I see a vibrant and acive online community of learning, support, contribution and integration.

I see what is happening in Germany, happening everywhere! Germany leads the world in trainers per capita and getting NVC into the consciousness of Everyman. I've heard that bookshops throughout Germany prominently display the German translation of Marshall's book.

I see a network of synergy between CNVC and other like-hearted groups contributing to meeting needs.

I see us going past the tipping point of awareness of and focus on Needs.

And I see a more active presence of the NVC community in world affairs. Where is the NVC voice concerning Lebanon, Syria, and the other hot spots? Where is the NVC consciousness in the White House, the UN, in politics in general? Where is the NVC consciousness in the "Anti-War" movement?

I see Marshall receiving the Nobel Peace prize. I see Marshall or another "senior Giraffe" as the Secretary of the new US Department of Peace. I see Department of Peace as common as Miistries of War or Defense.

I see Marshall on Oprah, and Leno, and Letterman, on PBS.

And I see what is happening now continuing to grow and blossom. I'm celebrating over 200 Certified Trainers, many registered cert-candidates, and a quarter million folks touched by NVC in the past few years.

And I dream of undreamed of possibilities emerging from our connection to Needs and Request energy!

I'm looking forward to hearing other's dreams!



Jim Manske's insight:

What fun to re-discover this today after receiving a comment on my old blog.  I felt so inspired reading my dream from 9 years ago that I wanted to share it with you!  Let's all dream big!

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It’s Time to Build an Army of Compassion and Here’s How We Do It

It’s Time to Build an Army of Compassion and Here’s How We Do It | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

After the recent attacks in Paris, the Dalai Lama said: “Unless we make serious attempts to achieve peace, we will continue to see a replay of the mayhem humanity experienced in the 20th century.” It’s easy to feel helpless when watching the news or thinking about how deeply rooted the suffering is in this situation and in many other situations of conflict around the world today. When a person watches a relative die in a conflict, their contempt for the other side can last a lifetime. There are so many powerful people and strong forces at play, what can we really do?


One answer I came up with is be a force that helps build an army of compassion.


The fact is I can do this and you can too.


Life is full of actions and reactions. This is what makes up the world around us from the trees we see, to the relationships that are kindled and to the babies that come from them. Every single thing we do matters. When Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” underlying that was the simple assumption that everything we do matters. Now we know the science behind the wisdom of his words, and why all the compassionate acts we do can have a significant impact on our mental health and a potential healing in the world.


Part of understanding the science isn’t a whole lot different than the understanding of neuroplasticity. How we pay attention and what we pay attention to influences the way our brain grows throughout the lifespan. So if we have a continuous series of moments where we are paying attention to helpless thoughts and worrying, so goes the brain. If we have a continuous series of moments where we are cultivating compassion, joy and curiosity in life, so goes the brain.


In the same way, we can have this impact not only on our mental health, but on the relationships that surround us and the world as a whole. You may not be a single force in solving the Middle East conflict or in reversing global warming, but everything you do matters. In order to better understand why everything you do matters, it’s important to understand how emotional contagion works:


The social scientists Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD, and James Fowler, PhD, conducted a study to look at the effect of social networks. To determine if there was a causal relationship for obesity, they mapped the relationships of 12,067 people who had more than 50,000 connections to other people that were assessed repeatedly from 1971 to 2003 (not online social networks such as Facebook but physical networks of people). They found that, indeed, “birds of a feather flock together.” However, they found something much more interesting: obesity doesn’t start and stop with immediate friends and family; it is “contagious” by up to three degrees of separation.


They also went on to find that loneliness and happiness are contagious by three degrees and that each person you have in your life that feels well boosts your chance of feeling well by 9%. In other words, the way people behave is contagious and causes a ripple effect across friends of friends of friends.


It stands to reason that our compassionate acts will do the same, slowly building an army of compassion.


Think of it this way, “When carbon atoms are arranged in a specific way, they make a diamond, but the diamond is not in each carbon atom. In the same way, each of our roles in mindfully engaging life can create a much larger social effect that is greater than each of us alone, having a significant influence on shaping our culture for the years to come and providing enormous healing.” ~ The Now Effect


Starting right now, get clear on what you can do to boost your experience of compassion in this world. What is something you care about that is greater than yourself? Maybe it’s the planet, or helping distressed people within your country or outside your country, or making a political impact.


Something simple is to begin with a lovingkindness practice, holding all the people who have been traumatized around the world by these attacks (maybe including you) and sending them intentions of peace, ease, health and relief from fear and suffering. May we all someday be at peace.


Anybody that says that a practice this is new age nonsense and of no use, is ignorant to the current science and neuroscience of not only this practice, but how powerful our minds truly are. Compassion-based meditations have the power to reduce fear and diffuse anger which are often the antecedents to the brain making decisions around violent actions.


However, you can also look into other ways to help the victims of the attacks.


Taking action alongside these values not only will make you feel good, but will also have reverberations that make this world a better place. It’s important to focus on what we can do, not only what we can’t do.

Compassion starts with us and one-by-one we can build an army of compassion that spreads  through emotional contagion, impacts political systems and creates a greater sense of safety, connection and well-being.


As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can or can’t, you’re right.” Belief is a very powerful thing here.


Believe it!



Elisha Goldstein, PhD

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Seven Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World Forever

Seven Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World Forever | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

When someone asks me what I do, and I tell them that I’m a futurist, the first thing they ask “what is a futurist?” The short answer that I give is “I use current scientific research in emerging technologies to imagine how we will live in the future.”


However, as you can imagine the art of futurology and foresight is much more complex. I spend my days thinking, speaking and writing about the future, and emerging technologies. On any given day I might be in Warsaw speaking at an Innovation Conference, in London speaking at a Global Leadership Summit, or being interviewed by the Discovery Channel. Whatever the situation, I have one singular mission. I want you to think about the future.


How will we live in the future? How will emerging technologies change our lives, our economy and our businesses? We should begin to think about the future now. It will be here faster than you think.


Let’s explore seven current emerging technologies that I am thinking about that are set to change the world forever.


1. Age Reversal

We will see the emergence of true biological age reversal by 2025.

It may be extraordinarily expensive, complex and risky, but for people who want to turn back the clock, it may be worth it. It may sound like science fiction but the science is real, and it has already begun. In fact, according to new research published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, Professor Jun-Ichi Hayashi from the University of Tsukuba in Japan has already reversed ageing in human cell lines by “turning on or off”mitochondrial function.


Another study published in CELL reports that Australian and US researchers have successfully reversed the aging process in the muscles of mice. They found that raising nuclear NAD+ in old mice reverses pseudohypoxia and metabolic dysfunction. Researchers gave the mice a compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD for a week and found that the age indicators in two-year-old mice were restored to that of six-month-old mice. That would be like turning a 60-year-old human into a 20-year-old!


How will our culture deal with age reversal? Will we set limits on who can age-reverse? Do we ban criminals from this technology? These are the questions we will face in a very complex future. One thing is certain, age reversal will happen and when it does it will change our species and our world forever.

2. Artificial General Intelligence


The robots are coming and they are going to eat your job for lunch. Worldwide shipments of multipurpose industrial robots are forecast to exceed 207,000 units in 2015, and this is just the beginning. Robots like Care-o-bot 4 and Softbank’s Pepper may be in homes, offices and hotels within the next year. These robots will be our personal servants, assistants and caretakers.


Amazon has introduced a new AI assistant called ECHO that could replace the need for a human assistant altogether. We already have robots and automation that can make pizza, serve beer, write news articles, scan our faces for diseases, and drive cars. We will see AI in our factories, hospitals, restaurants and hotels around the world by 2020.

3. Vertical Pink Farms


We are entering the techno-agricultural era. Agricultural science is changing the way we harvest our food. Robots and automation are going to play a decisive role in the way we hunt and gather. The most important and disruptive idea is what I call “Vertical PinkFarms” and it is set to decentralise the food industry forever.


The United Nations (UN) predicts by 2050 80% of the Earth’s population will live in cities. Climate change will also make traditional food production more difficult and less productive in the future. We will need more efficient systems to feed these hungry urban areas. Thankfully, several companies around the world are already producing food grown in these Vertical PinkFarms and the results are remarkable.


Vertical PinkFarms will use blue and red LED lighting to grow organic, pesticide free, climate controlled food inside indoor environments. Vertical PinkFarms use less water, less energy and enable people to grow food underground or indoors year round in any climate.


Traditional food grown on outdoor farms are exposed to the full visible light spectrum. This range includes Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Violet. However, agricultural science is now showing us that O, Y, G and V are not necessary for plant growth. You only need R and B.LED lights are much more efficient and cooler than indoor florescent grow lights used in most indoor greenhouses. LED lights are also becoming less expensive as more companies begin to invest in this technology. Just like the solar and electric car revolution, the change will be exponential. By 2025, we may see massive Vertical PinkFarms in most major cities around the world. We may even see small Vertical PinkFarm units in our homes in the future.

4. Transhumanism


By 2035, even if a majority of humans do not self-identify as Transhuman, technically they will be. If we define any bio-upgrade or human enhancement as Transhumanism, then the numbers are already quite high and growing exponentially. According to a UN Telecom Agency report, around 6 billion people have cell phones. This demonstrates the ubiquitous nature of technology that we keep on or around our body.

As human bio-enhancements become more affordable, billions of humans will become Transhuman. Digital implants, mind-controlled exoskeletal upgrades, age reversal pills, hyper-intelligence brain implants and bionic muscle upgrades. All of these technologies will continue our evolution as humans.


Reconstructive joint replacements, spinal implants, cardiovascular implants, dental implants, intraocular lens and breast implants are all part of our human techno-evolution into this new Transhuman species.

5. Wearables and Implantables

Smartphones will fade into digital history as the high-resolution smart contact lens and corresponding in-ear audio plugs communicate with our wearable computers or “smart suits.” The digital world will be displayed directly on our eye in stunning interactive augmented beauty. The Ghent University’s Centre of Microsystems Technology in Belgium has recently developed a spherical curved LCD display that can be embedded in contact lenses. This enables the entire lens to display information.

The bridge to the smart contact starts with smart glasses, VR headsets and yes, the Apple watch. Wearable technologies are growing exponentially. New smart augmented glasses like Google Glass, RECON JET, METAPro, and Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses are just the beginning. In fact, CastAR augmented 3D glasses recently received over a million dollars in funding on Kickstarter. Their goal was only four hundred thousand. The market is ready for smart vision, and tech companies should move away from handheld devices if they want to compete.

The question of what is real and augmented will be irrelevant in the future. We will be able to create our reality with clusters of information cults that can only see certain augmented information realities if you are in these groups. All information will be instantaneously available in the

augmented visual future.

6. Atmospheric Water Harvesting


California and parts of the south-west in the US are currently experiencing an unprecedented drought. If this drought continues, the global agricultural system could become unstable.


Consider this: California and Arizona account for about 98% of commercial lettuce production in the United States.Thankfully we live in a world filled with exponential innovation right now.


An emerging technology called Atmospheric Water Harvesting could save California and other arid parts of the world from severe drought and possibly change the techno-agricultural landscape forever.


Traditional agricultural farming methods consume 80% of the water in California. According to the California Agricultural Resource Directory of 2009, California grows 99% of the U.S. almonds, artichokes, and walnuts; 97% of the kiwis, apricots and plums; 96% of the figs, olives and nectarines; 95% of celery and garlic; 88% of strawberries and lemons; 74% of peaches; 69% of carrots; 62% of tangerines and the list goes on.


Several companies around the world are already using atmospheric water harvesting technologies to solve this problem. Each company has a different technological approach but all of them combined could help alleviate areas suffering from water shortages.


The most basic, and possibly the most accessible, form of atmospheric water harvesting technology works by collecting water and moisture from the atmosphere using micro netting. These micro nets collect water that drains down into a collection chamber. This fresh water can then be stored or channelled into homes and farms as needed.


A company called FogQuest is already successfully using micro netting or “fog collectors” to harvest atmospheric water in places like Ethiopia, Guatemala, Nepal, Chile and Morocco.


Will people use this technology or will we continue to drill for water that may not be there?

7. 3D Printing


Today we already have 3D printers that can print clothing, circuit boards, furniture, homes and chocolate. A company called BigRep has created a 3D printer called the BigRep ONE.2 that enables designers to create entire tables, chairs or coffee tables in one print. Did you get that?

You can now buy a 3D printer and print furniture!


Fashion designers like Iris van Herpen, Bryan Oknyansky, Francis Bitonti, Madeline Gannon, and Daniel Widrig have all broken serious ground in the 3D printed fashion movement. These avant-garde designs may not be functional for the average consumer so what is one to do for a regular tee shirt? Thankfully a new Field Guided Fabrication 3D printer called ELECTROLOOM has arrived that can print and it may put a few major retail chains out of business. The ELECTROLOOM enables anyone to create seamless fabric items on demand.


So what is next? 3D printed cars. Yes, cars. Divergent Microfactories (DM) has recently created a first 3D printed high-performance car called the Blade. This car is no joke. The Blade has a chassis weight of just 61 pounds, goes 0-60 MPH in 2.2 seconds and is powered by a 4-cylinder 700-horsepower bi-fuel internal combustion engine.


These are just seven emerging technologies on my radar. I have a list of hundreds of innovations that will change the world forever. Some sound like pure sci-fi but I assure you they are real. Are we ready for a world filled with abundance, age reversal and self-replicating AI robots? I hope so.

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The Radical Humaneness of Norway’s Halden Prison

The Radical Humaneness of Norway’s Halden Prison | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
“ The goal of the Norwegian penal system is to get inmates out of it.”
Via Wendy Jason
Jim Manske's insight:
From punitive to restorative...
Laura Lee Smith's comment, September 7, 7:30 PM
I'm going to look more into this prison as I find the information given to be very interesting, I hope it is as successful as it appears.
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Sowing Seeds of Gratitude to Cultivate Wellbeing: Deepak Chopra

Sowing Seeds of Gratitude to Cultivate Wellbeing:  Deepak Chopra | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Gratitude, along with love, compassion, empathy, joy, forgiveness, and self-knowledge, is a vital attribute of our wellbeing. While there are many definitions of gratitude, at its foundation, gratitude is a healing, life-affirming, and uplifting human experience that shifts us from focusing on the negative to appreciating what is positive in our lives.
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Altered States - Celebrating Oliver Sacks, MD

Altered States - Celebrating Oliver Sacks, MD | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

“Neurochemistry was plainly ‘in,’ and so—dangerously, seductively, especially in California, where I was studying—were the drugs themselves.”

Jim Manske's insight:

Oliver Sacks recently died, leaving behind a legacy of clarity and lucidity about the Mind.  This long read from the New Yorker gives some insight into the unquenchable curiosity of an explorer of human consciousness, who never found another nervous system that he could not enjoy and learn from.

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How to Begin Each Day: A Recipe for Unshakable Sanity and Inner Peace from Marcus Aurelius

How to Begin Each Day: A Recipe for Unshakable Sanity and Inner Peace from Marcus Aurelius | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

“Take everything that’s bright and beautiful in you and introduce it to the shadow side of yourself,” the wise and wonderful Parker Palmer counseled the young in his superb Naropa Unviersity commencement address. Only by accepting our own interior contradictions and dualities, he argued, are we liberated to put the shadow’s power in service of the good in the exterior world.

This seems like a particularly timely message, urgently needed in a culture intolerant of duality, where we hasten to polarize everything into good and bad, unfailingly placing ourselves in the former category and the Other — whether their otherness is manifested in race, gender, orientation, or sports team preference — in the latter. And yet the message is a timeless one, most piercingly articulated two millennia earlier in the writings of Marcus Aurelius — the last of Ancient Rome’s Five Good Emperors and one of the most influential Stoic philosophers.


In his Meditations (public library | free ebook) — the same indispensable proto-blog that gave us the philosophic emperor on what his father taught him about honor and humility — Marcus Aurelius, translated here by Gregory Hays, offers a remarkable recipe for how to begin each day in order to live with maximum sanity and inner peace:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own — not of the same blood or birth, but of the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.

Meditations, it bears repeating, is a requisite read in its entirety. Complement it with Seneca, a fellow Stoic, on how to fill the shortness of life with greater width of aliveness and Richard Feynman on the choice between good and evil.

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6 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Highly Empathetic People

6 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Highly Empathetic People | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
The truth is that being empathetic is one of the most worthwhile traits a person can have. To not only be able to acknowledge one another's wellbeing, but to actually feel what someone else is experiencing, and to truly connect at that core level, is unprecedentedly powerful.


It's something we all need to develop a bit more, especially on a mass scale. But, like most things in the world, it's stigmatized to an unfair degree (if not disregarded completely).


Here are all the things people tend to get wrong about empaths, and the truth that may make you realize you are one (but perhaps in denial):

Highly Empathetic People Usually Come From Difficult, If Not Abusive, Pasts



Via Edwin Rutsch
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Concerts to benefit Fukushima Kids Hawaii

Concerts to benefit Fukushima Kids Hawaii | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Fukushima Kids Hawaii is a project of Aloha-Keiki that hosts children from the island of Honshu in the Kona area. Children range in ages from 10 to 17 years of age are hosted during winter and summer vacations. In addition to being a reprieve from the tumultuous events, they come to find healing and joy in the landscape and aloha that is so much a part of Hawaii.

Jim Manske's insight:

NVC in Action on the Big Island of Hawaii, with HI-NVC Board Members Yumi and Gen!  Mahalo mahalo for your compassionate social change!

christopher cyril's curator insight, August 10, 10:47 AM

NVC in Action on the Big Island of Hawaii, with HI-NVC Board Members Yumi and Gen!  Mahalo mahalo for your compassionate social change!

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Controlling Intrusive Thoughts – Suppress, Repress or Accept? | Brain Blogger

Controlling Intrusive Thoughts – Suppress, Repress or Accept? | Brain Blogger | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The minds of those both with mental health problems and those without can be invaded by unwanted intrusive thoughts often on a daily basis. Finding the best strategy for when a nasty intrusive thought comes to mind is a challenge many of us share, and for some of us it can ultimately make the difference between happiness and despair.


Suppression of intrusive thoughts

Quite simply, as defined in a recent review paper:

“Thought suppression is a conscious process whereby an individual attempts notto think about something… Acts of thought suppression are, by definition, conscious and volitional attempts to push a thought from one’s mind”

With this in mind, try not to think about the grime under your toilet seat. Haha, gross but gotcha! It’s near impossible NOT to think about it—YUK! This is the problem with attempting to prevent thoughts. Both experience and research are in agreement that suppressed thoughts can rebound. By trying to suppress intrusive thoughts, you can actually think about it more rather than less.


In fact, research has gone so far as to say that suppression of intrusive thoughts can actually lead to them being hyper-accessible. This hyper-accessibility in turn makes any stimuli related to the thought hyper-salient. Basically, like the word toilet, anything related to the poorly suppressed thought becomes more noticeable. The final nail in the coffin is that these heightened intrusive thoughts and their triggers make it even harder to control related unwanted behaviours.


This is not good news for those with mental health problems, like obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD), depression, anxiety or addiction. For example, while almost all addicted smokers wishing toquit report attempting to suppress thoughts of smoking, multiple studies suggest this suppression actually increases thoughts of smoking, cravings and the act of smoking itself. Moreover, successful quitters were shown to use less thought suppression in day-to-day life than failed quitters.


Considering the sadly predictable aftermath of thought suppression’s rebound effect, it’s no surprise that people who frequently suppress thoughts are at higher risk of developing a wide range of psychopathologies. Thought suppression is certainly not a prime example of the easiest answer to a problem being the best one—it’s an awful solution! If you want to manage intrusive thoughts, don’t bother with suppressing your thoughts!

Repressive coping with intrusive thoughts

Wait, you might be thinking, I’m quite good at not thinking about stuff if I don’t want to. Well, you may be a “natural suppressor”, otherwise known as a repressor. Rather than actively trying and (likely counterproductively) suppressing a thought alone, repressors also intentionally avoid the negative intrusive thought. This often involves distracting attention elsewhere, and if need be, enhancing positive moods, dampening the thought suppression rebound effect.

Here’s what the authors of the review paper had to say:

“In general terms, repressive coping seems to be an effective short term strategy for exercising control over negative or threatening thoughts, though the longer term consequences of repressive coping do not seem to be adaptive, being associated with increased mortality and poorer health outcomes amongst various cohorts.”


The example given in the paper is that of heart attack patients receiving a psychological stress intervention. Poorer health was found for patients using repressive coping strategies than anxious patients, presumably because their problem avoiding strategies were foiled by the inherently problem-focused nature of interventions.


Moreover, this is likely related to reports of repressor’s superior self-deception abilities, involving unrealistic optimism and overly positive self-evaluation. This is reflected well in a study that showed that physiological signs of anxiety measured in the lab (like heart rate and muscle tension) are out of touch with how anxious repressors claim to feel.

Mindful management of intrusive thoughts


So how can we stop thinking certain intrusive thoughts without trying to stop thinking about them? One answer is mindfulness.


Mindfulness, i.e. non-judgemental present moment awareness, by definition and as proven through experimentation, is negatively correlated with thought suppression. In fact, the success of mindfulness practices in managing and reducing the occurrence of intrusive thoughts is partially mediated by inhibiting thought suppression. The goal is not to suppress or repress these unwanted thoughts as they arise, but to accept their place in your mind and make no effort to control, analyze or change them.


This is a lovely example of how the least obvious answer to a problem is sometimes the best one. For example, when comparing mindful management of intrusive smoking thoughts to suppression, only mindfulness had beneficial effects on reported nicotine dependence and emotional functioning over the course of the study.


Mindfulness trains a more effective way of dealing with and reducing intrusive thoughts, likely through enhancing executive control brain functions (willpower one could say). With mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for example, mindfulness-based acceptance and lack of judgement have been suggested to facilitate both reductions in intrusive thoughts, as well as reframing thoughts and changing related behaviors.


Ultimately, mindfulness creates the space for the cognitive restructuring of how we think and behave, perfect for the control of intrusive thoughts.



What can we say with confidence from scientific findings? Suppression alone is a big fat no no; repression may provide a patch-up job allowing you to happily go about your day relatively unscathed, although may come with a catch; while mindful management of thoughts may provide the fastest route to blasting those intrusive thoughts from mind with no negative ramifications reported thus far.

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The Learned Attitude That Makes Children More Anxious and Violent

The Learned Attitude That Makes Children More Anxious and Violent | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Children who expect others to be aggressive are more aggressive themselves, new international research concludes.

Professor Kenneth A. Dodge, who led the study, said:

“When a child infers that he or she is being threatened by someone else and makes an attribution that the other person is acting with hostile intent, then that child is likely to react with aggression.

This study shows that this pattern is universal in every one of the 12 cultural groups studied worldwide.”


The research compared 1,299 children in the US, Italy, Jordan, Kenya Thailand, China — 12 countries in all.


Children were given scenarios to read involving common situations that could be interpreted ambiguously.


For example, when someone bumps into you it could be an aggressive move, but it’s more likely to be an accident.

Professor Dodge explained the results:

“Our research also indicates that cultures differ in their tendencies to socialize children to become defensive this way, and those differences account for why some cultures have children who act more aggressively than other cultures. It points toward the need to change how we socialize our children, to become more benign and more forgiving and less defensive. It will make our children less aggressive and our society more peaceful.”


Countries where children were the least aggressive included Sweden and China.


The most aggressive children were found in Italy and Jordan.

Professor Dodge thinks the way children are socialised is key:

“The findings point toward a new wrinkle to the Golden Rule,

Not only should we teach our children to do unto others as we would have them do unto ourselves, but also to think about others as we would have them think about us. By teaching our children to give others the benefit of the doubt, we will help them grow up to be less aggressive, less anxious and more competent.”


The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dodge et al., 2015).

- See more at: http://www.spring.org.uk/2015/07/the-learned-attitude-that-makes-children-more-anxious-and-violent.php#sthash.oaetGcYj.dpuf

Jim Manske's insight:

Once again, a reminder of the power we adults have to influence the world we want to live in with our warmth and modeling!

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Pathways to Bliss: Joseph Campbell on Why Perfectionism Kills Love and How to Save Your Relationship

Pathways to Bliss: Joseph Campbell on Why Perfectionism Kills Love and How to Save Your Relationship | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
"Perfection is inhuman... What evokes our love ... is the imperfection of the human being."

“Where the myth fails, human love begins,"
Jim Manske's insight:

I am so grateful for the insights I have received in the last few years that have helped me to heal from thoughts of perfectionism...and thus I continue to deepen in to self-acceptance, self-compassion, and Love.

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Why Your Brain Loves Negativity and How to Fix It

Pretend you’re a caveman.


You’re in your cave preparing for a hunt, but something outside seems dangerous, violent sounds you don’t understand.


You have two choices: Skip the hunt, spend the night hungry but live another day. Or risk death and go outside.


Hold onto that thought. We’ll be getting back to that.


Now imagine you’re driving to work. While getting off the highway, someone cuts you off. You slam on your brakes.


You know the feeling that’s coming. That tense anger rises up. Your fingers clench the steering wheel.


It’s enough to set you on a path to feel horrible all day. You might be less productive at work, distracted during meetings. You might try to counterbalance the feeling with a quick shot of endorphins from junk food, mindless web surfing or time-wasting YouTube videos. This only compounds the problem. This is like taking short-term unhappiness and investing it in a long-term, high-yield unhappiness investment plan, ensuring belly flab and career stagnation for years to come.


So why does this one minor thing, getting cut off, have such a powerful effect on us? Why does one negative experience ruin an otherwise great day?


The answer has to do with our friend, Mr. Caveman. Research shows that our brains evolved to react much more strongly to negative experiences than positive ones. It kept us safe from danger. But in modern days, where physical danger is minimal, it often just gets in the way.


It’s called the negativity bias.


What is the negativity bias

It isn’t entirely Mr. Caveman’s fault. The neurological roots of the negativity bias started long before that.


In Dr. Rick Hansen’s excellent book on this topic, “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence,” he writes that humans share ancestors with “bats, begonias and bacteria that go back at least 3.5 billion years.”


Hanson describes these ancestors as living in a world of carrots and sticks, carrots being rewards (food, sex, shelter) and sticks being punishment (predators, disease, injury).


“Over hundreds of millions of years, it was a matter of life and death to pay extra attention to sticks, react to them intensely, remember them well, and over time become even more sensitive to them.”

How the negativity bias hurts our productivity

The negativity bias can be seriously detrimental to our work productivity.


Not only does negative stimuli trigger more neural activity, but research shows negativity is detected more quickly and easily. The amygdala — the brain region that regulates emotion and motivation — uses about two-thirds of its neurons to detect bad news, Hanson wrote.


Think about this, two thirds of your motivation regulator is designed to focus on negativity. That seems problematic. Also, economic studies have shown people are more likely to make financial and career decisions based not on achieving something good, but on avoiding something bad.


Older workplace models may have supported this behavior — 20th Century assembly line workers were not expected to “fail fast” or innovate. Being a good employee was following a series of don’ts. Don’t show up late, don’t talk back to the boss, don’t touch that button.


Most of us aren’t working that way anymore. We need to focus on growth and progress, behaviors that inherently need action, not avoidance.


Furthermore, values like openness and transparency are celebrated in workplaces more than ever. But we’re often not taught how to deal with a simple reality: sometimes transparency hurts our feelings.


Picture a team meeting.


“I think our UI could be better, feels a little clunky,” says one employee.

It’s a great example of transparency and openly sharing insights.


However, employee Josh designed the UI. And even though Josh welcomes criticism and is on board with the company’s culture of transparency, his feelings are hurt.


Outwardly, he plays it cool. But deep down, some ancient part of Josh’s brain is stirring, latching onto this comment like an octopus.


His negativity bias is kicking in. He will be distracted and upset. We might as well send him home for the day.

5 ways to beat the negativity bias

Thankfully, there are things we can all do to minimize the negativity bias. We won’t erase it. It took 3.5 billion years to develop, it’s going to stick around for a while. But there are specific steps we can take to fight back, and research even shows we can physically change our brain to minimize the negativity bias. Here are a few exercises that can help.

1. Re-frame the language behind your goals

Even Pixar Animation Studios has felt the effects of negativity bias. Company leaders began to notice that employees were hesitant to share honest opinions in meetings, wrote Pixar Founder Ed Catmull in his book, “Creativity, Inc..”

People were afraid. Afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings, afraid of having their own feelings hurt.


So leadership introduced a new word: candor.


Pixar drives its teams to embrace candor through the Pixar Braintrust, a small group of well-respected creative leaders in the company who oversee a film’s development process.


The Braintrust strives to demonstrate candor by stressing that the film, not the filmmaker, is under the microscope.

By establishing this distinction early and often, creative workers are less likely to take feedback personally.


And the word candor, in Pixar’s hallways, became associated with analyzing projects, not people.

It worked. “Candor,” as Catmull put it, freed Pixar’s teams from “honesty’s baggage.”


This also helps workers buy in to the process early on, ensure creative momentum instead of negativity bias quicksand.

“Filmmakers must be ready to hear the truth; candor is only valuable if the person on the receiving end is open to it and willing, if necessary, to let go of things that don’t work,” Catmull wrote.

2. Be aware of the negativity bias

Hanson suggests being mindful of the negativity bias and recognizing that your brain wants to cling to these events like your life depends on it. It’s up to you to decide how dangerous, if at all, these experiences really are.


“Then you won’t be so vulnerable to intimidation by apparent ‘tigers’ that are in fact manageable, blown out of proportion, or made of paper-mache,” Hanson wrote in The Huffington Post.


So be aware when you feel yourself drawn to negativity. Tell yourself you’re smarter than your brain thinks you are. Develop a mantra. Try this: “I am not a caveman and this is not a tiger.” Repeat it in your head a few times.


And now that you know the immense power of negativity, you’ll be less likely to invite it into your environment.


The Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird financial services firm landed on Fortune magazine’s list of the “100 Best Places to Work” in large part thanks to CEO Paul Purcell’s ruthless aversion to hiring jerks.


As the CEO put it to author Robert I. Sutton: “During the interview, I look them in the eye, and tell them, ‘If I discover that you are an asshole, I am going to fire you.’ Most candidates aren’t fazed by this, but every now and then, one turns pale, and we never see them again — they find some reason to back out of the search.”

3. Keep a gratitude journal

For years, one of the richest and most powerful women in the world found herself struggling to feel happiness.


“I was stretched in so many directions, I wasn’t feeling much of anything,” Oprah Winfrey wrote in 2012.


That’s when she realized what had changed, her years-long habit of recording what she was grateful for each day had fallen by the wayside.


After picking up the habit again, the positive feelings returned.


Don’t take Oprah’s word for it. There’s plenty of research showing that gratitude journaling pays great benefits.


“As we’ve reported many times over the years, studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike,” wrote Jason Marsh for the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.


Robert Emmons, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, and a leading expert in positive psychology, has offered several tips on keeping a gratitude journal. They include:

 Focus on people rather than thingsSavor surprise eventsWrite only once or twice per week, but write with depth4. Work on a challenging puzzle

Do you ever notice how working on a challenging problem can make you forget about minor aches and pains? It turns out, we may be able to shake off negative emotions by diverting our mental energy elsewhere, like on a puzzle or memory game.


In 2010, a group of Israeli researchers found that “the intensity of both negative and positive feelings diminished under a cognitive load.”


Or as it was put in Psychology Today:

“New research suggests that this phenomenon occurs because emotions are mentally taxing; they take up brain resources.


When you focus your brain on something challenging, mental resources that were being previously devoted to producing and experiencing the negative emotion are now being pulled away to solve the puzzle or remember the poem.”


The author suggests a few different techniques:

Try to remember the lines of a poem memorized many years ago.Count backward from 100 in increments of 7.Multiply two numbers like 14 and 23 in your head.5. Take in the good

Hanson also suggests “taking in the good,” by spending more time soaking in positive experiences, even small ones.


“Most of the time, a good experience is pretty mild, and that’s fine. But try to stay with it for 20 or 30 seconds in a row – instead of getting distracted by something else,” Hanson wrote.


By doing this, you’re reinforcing positive patterns in your brain. And your brain learns from experiences, building new neural pathways, researchers call this neuroplasticity.


The key here is give yourself time to let those thoughts settle in. Don’t just push them aside.


“People tend to be really good at having that beneficial state of mind in the first place, but they don’t take the extra 10 seconds required for the transfer to occur from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage,” Hanson told Fast Company. “Really get those neurons firing together so that they wire this growing inner strength in your brain.”


The negativity bias is powerful and fighting it will take time. But it’s well worth the effort. Practice these things consistently, and you’ll notice your negativity bias shrinking.


You just have to work for it.



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If you want to be more generous, gratitude isn’t enough

Expressing gratitude is a November tradition. By giving thanks, we help others feel appreciated and remind ourselves of how fortunate we are.



But if we want to promote a spirit of generosity, we need to add another custom to the Thanksgiving repertoire.



Although gratitude is a powerful emotion, it’s also a fleeting one. Research shows that when we say thanks, we become motivated to pay back or forward what we’ve received. Then the emotion fades and the giving stops.


A few years ago, Jane Dutton and I asked people to donate a portion of their money to relief efforts for the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The base rate of giving in a control group was 13%. When we randomly assigned a second group of people to list three things they had received from others, donations climbed to 21%.

Not bad… until we saw that a different exercise spiked the giving rate above 46%.



Instead of reflecting on what they had received, we asked a third group to write down three things that they had contributed to others. Now they saw themselves as givers, and here was a chance to earn that identity by helping victims of a natural disaster.



Gratitude is a temporary emotion. Giving is a lasting value.



In another experiment, we asked university fundraisers to keep a daily journal about what they had received from others or contributed to others. Over the next two weeks, the fundraisers who reflected on giving increased their total effort by 25%—and put in 13% more hourly effort than their colleagues who wrote about receiving. Having reminded themselves that they were the kinds of people who cared about others, they became invested in giving more.



According to a popular mantra, we should give without remembering and receive without forgetting. Our research suggests otherwise: we should take the time to remember both what we’ve given and what we’ve received.



So this Thanksgiving, don’t just count your blessings. Count your contributions too.



This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. 

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At UR, Sotomayor says justices are 'members of this society': “That for me is the work of empathy"

At UR, Sotomayor says justices are 'members of this society': “That for me is the work of empathy" | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Sotomayor said she attempts to bring empathy to her decisions by seeing herself “in the other person’s shoes.”


“It is that empathy, in my judgment, that is necessary for judges to have in their written opinions,” she said.

She cited as an example a case involving a 13-year-old girl who successfully sued her school after she was subjected to a strip search because she was reported to have taken an aspirin.
During arguments, some justices questioned how such a search was any different from undressing in a locker room.

That prompted Ginsburg to later comment that some of her male colleagues might not understand the sensitivity 13-year-old girls have about their bodies, Sotomayor said.

“It’s not the conclusions we draw but how we express ourselves,” she said. A ruling should not demean the losing party even when the court disagrees.

“That for me is the work of empathy,” she said.

Via Edwin Rutsch
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The Power of Gratitude: 5 Small Tips for a Lighter and Happier Life Starting Today

The Power of Gratitude: 5 Small Tips for a Lighter and Happier Life Starting Today | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”

Lionel Hampton


“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Marcel Proust


Maybe the simplest and most effortless habit for living a happier life is to take one or a few minutes every day to focus on what is already here and that you can be grateful for in your life.

It can help you to…


Lift your mood and boost motivation very quickly.

Find the things in your life that you want to focus even more of your time and energy on.Not just take things for granted and to find joy even during the tougher times.


It is simply an awesome habit to cultivate that demands little but gives much back.


So this week I’d like to explore 5 small tips that you can use to cultivate more gratitude and happiness in your life.


1. Pause and look around yourself.

A first simple step to build the gratitude habit is simply to pause in your everyday life and to ask yourself questions like:

What can I be grateful for in my life today?Who are 3 people that I can be grateful to have in my life and why?


If you cannot come up with several things or people every day then that is OK. If you find one thing or one person then that is great too. Don’t get hung up on the numbers. Just take a few minutes and see what you come up with.


Try to not repeat the same things too often. Instead, try to think of more things and people you can be grateful for in your life.


2. Look towards yourself.


Don’t just look outward.


Take a look at yourself too. A habit of being appreciative and grateful towards yourself is a simple way to improve self-esteem and self-confidence.


Ask yourself:

What are 3 things I can be grateful for about myself?

It could be that you were a good father in a moment of crisis this week. It could be that you finally got done with that task you had been procrastinating on.


Your self-gratitude does not have to be all about achievements at work or in school for example. You can simply be grateful for your good sense of humor or that you help people out a lot by being a good listener from time to time.


3. Take a closer look at the very smaller things or what you may take for granted.


Don’t just focus on the big and obvious things you can be grateful for.

Think about what very small things you can be grateful for too.


Like the plant just in front of my laptop that I am writing these words on.

It is not a remarkable plant. But its simple beauty in the vibrant green color, how it keeps growing on just a little water and sunshine and the faint smell of nature is something simple I feel grateful for.


Another thing that I am grateful for today – that I may sometimes take for granted – was my lunch. It was a few potatoes with some grilled chicken and a dollop of sauce. It was delicious. And, more importantly, I don’t have to go hungry. I am in the very fortunate position of being able to eat lunch every day.


Ask yourself:

What is one very small thing that I can be grateful for today?What is one thing I may usually for granted that I can be grateful for?


Opening your eyes to the small and daily things you can appreciate lets you truly see more of the simple beauty in life.


4. Do it early or late in your day.


But how do you get the gratitude habit to stick and not just become one of those things you forget about or abandon after a few days.


Two things that I have found effective are:

Take 1 minute in the morning to get a good start to your day by finding 3 small or big things you are grateful for in your life.Take 1-2 minutes each evening and use a journal to write down maybe 3 or 5 things you are grateful for about your day, about yourself or about your life.


Try one of these tiny time commitments every day for a week and see how it impacts your life.


5. Express your gratitude.


Don’t just keep the gratitude on the inside. Express it.


Make other people happier too – and help them to perhaps pay it forward later on – by expressing how you are grateful for having them in your life. Plus, their smile and the joy in their eyes when you tell them this will make you happier too.


Now, that gratitude could just be a small sentence. But it can have a big impact on someone’s day, week or even life sometimes.


So tell the people in your life.


Tell them in person tonight. Or write an email or a letter to someone a little further away in the world. Or send a small text message right now.

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How Many Types of Happiness Exist?: Todd Kashdan, Ph. D.

How Many Types of Happiness Exist?:  Todd Kashdan, Ph. D. | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Seven years ago, my colleagues and I wrote an article(link is external) that committed heresy. We disagreed with Aristotle. This is not something mere mortals are supposed to do. After all, he is one of the smartest men in human history and beyond reproach (at least according to reviewers who disliked our article so much that they asked to write commentaries - read the first(link is external), second(link is external), and third(link is external), and then our response to them(link is external)). What is our point of departure? It is the concept of eudaimonia. According to modern psychologists who translate Aristotle's work, eudaimonia is one of two types of happiness; the other type of happiness is hedonism. For definitions, read the descriptions of the so-called two types of happiness by Dr. Alan Waterman(link is external) (an outspoken, highly cited psychologist on this topic):


"Within hedonism, happiness in the form of “hedonia” is the goal to be sought, and the greater the extent of pleasure experienced the better. Within this context, no consideration is given to the source of happiness. In contrast, according to Aristotle, the goal of a good life is excellence in the pursuit of fulfillment of personal potentials in ways that further an individual’s purposes in living. Happiness in the form of “eudaimonia” is a positive subjective state that is the product (or perhaps a by-product) of the pursuit of self-realization rather than the objective being sought."


In case you think I am cherry picking, here is another description of the so-called two types of happiness (link is external)by a team of eminent psychologists, Drs. Richard Ryan and Ed Deci:

"In both traditional and current views, hedonia and eudaimonia are often juxtaposed as opposing perspectives on human wellness. The hedonic approach defines well-being as happiness, interpreted as the occurrence of positive affect and the absence of negative affect (Kahneman et al.,1999)...In contrast, the concept of eudaimonia, generally defined as living a complete human life, or the realization of valued human potentials (Ryan & Deci, 2001)..."

Aristotle (1985 translation of the Nicomachean Ethics by T. Irwin) emphatically rejected hedonism as a goal in life: “The many, the most vulgar, seemingly conceive the good and happiness as pleasure, and hence they also like the life of gratification. Here they appear completely slavish, since the life they decide on is a life for grazing animals.” (p. 7)


Granted, I have nothing more than an amateur's interest in philosophy and in no way do I necessarily have a better read on Aristotle's work than any one else. But there is one thing that I want to explain about Aristotle (as I interpret his words). I think that psychologists misinterpret Aristotle when they accuse him of dichotomizing happiness into two types. I dont think this is accurate. I think that what you read in the Nicomachean Ethics is Aristotle's rejection of Platonic 'forms' or one universal and eternal idea to represent any one thing. In other words, Plato thought there was one universal such as an eternal form of 'love' and the closer that our experience of love corresponds to that form then the closer it is to 'Truth.' I think Aristotle was moving away from Plato in this area by stating that the good life is that which is sought for its own sake (end). But, Aristotle qualified this by adding that to understand the good life we need to examine both forms and ends (means and ends) as elements of the good life. To say this differently, hedonic activities (e.g., cooking and eating lobster eggs benedict, getting and giving a massage) may be both means and ends, and as such are fundamental to living the good life. As means, hedonic activities may serve the end of virtuous activity (e.g., by giving a massage, you showcase your capacity to love another person) but virtuous activity may also produce hedonic feelings as a byproduct (e.g., by standing up to a bully to protect someone, we feel invigorated and prideful). Thus, pleasure is to be experienced ALONG WITH virtuous activity as elements of the good life.


What I'm saying is that splitting happiness into hedonic and eudaimonic activities and claiming that one is qualitatively better than the other is foolhardy and impedes scientific progress (and is probably a misread of what Aristotle intended).


At this point you might be asking, what is the evidence for one vs. two types of happiness? If so, I'm glad you asked. My colleagues and I recently conducted a study to test this very question. We are confident in this study because we sampled 7,617 people from 109 different countries from 6 of the 7 world continents. We asked a single question:

Is a person's hedonic well-being (e.g., satisfaction with life, subjective happiness, and amount of negative emotions) independent of their sense of eudaimonia (e.g., meaning and purpose in life, autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, self-acceptance)? Or do scores on measures of well-being tend to converge with other measures of well-being?


The answer was quite clear. The correlation between the so-called hedonic well-being measures and eudaimonia measures was .96! This might be a good time to mention that this is as strong of a correlation as you will ever get.


What is the take-home message? The same as what my colleagues and I wrote in 2009(link is external):

We remain steadfast in our original assertion that existing evidence does not support a conceptualization of two qualitatively distinct forms of happiness...Our reading of the research literature suggests that there is good evidence that eudaimonic and hedonic aspects of well-being can operate in tandem. Focusing research attention on specific dimensions of well-being allows for greater clarity in communication, facilitates comparison and promotes flexibility in the mixture of well-being variables used in research.

Source: Todd Kashdan

Can we please stop the rat-race between abstract, wastebasket terms? There is a better approach. Learn about yourself and other people by getting information on where they fall on different dimensions. With greater precision in our language and our measures, we can become more precise with what we want to target in improving our quality of life.

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Thinking Matters: Empathy

Jane Shaw, Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University, describes her Thinking Matters course on Empathy. This course will introduce freshmen to a range of ways of thinking about empathy.


How do we know and understand the other? How does knowledge of another’s experience and circumstances enable us to make moral decisions and take moral actions?

Via Edwin Rutsch
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U.S. scientists successfully turn human cancer cells back to normal in process that could ‘switch off’ disease

U.S. scientists successfully turn human cancer cells back to normal in process that could ‘switch off’ disease | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Cancer cells have been programmed back to normal by scientists in a breakthrough which could lead to new treatments and even reverse tumour growth.


For the first time, aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells by restoring the function which prevents them from multiplying excessively and forming dangerous growths.


Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Florida in the U.S. said it was like applying the brakes to a speeding car.


So far it has only been tested on human cells in the lab, but the researchers are hopeful that the technique could one day be used to target tumours so that cancer could be “switched off” without the need for harsh chemotherapy or surgery.


“We should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function,” said Prof Panos Anastasiadis, of the Department for Cancer Biology.


“Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising. It represents an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer.”


Cells need to divide constantly to replace themselves. But in cancer the cells do not stop dividing, leading to huge cell reproduction and tumour growth.


The scientists discovered that the glue which holds cells together is regulated by biological microprocessors called microRNAs. When everything is working normally, the microRNAs instruct the cells to stop dividing when they have replicated sufficiently. They do this by triggering production of a protein called PLEKHA7 which breaks the cell bonds. But in cancer that process does not work.


Scientists discovered they could switch on cancer in cells by removing the microRNAs from cells and preventing them from producing the protein.


And, crucially, they found that they could reverse the process, switching the brakes back on and stopping cancer.

MicroRNAs are small molecules which can be delivered directly to cells or tumours so an injection to increase levels could switch off disease.


“We have now done this in very aggressive human cell lines from breast and bladder cancer,” added Prof Anastasiadis.

“These cells are already missing PLEKHA7. Restoring either PLEKHA7 levels, or the levels of miRNAs in these cells turns them back to a benign state. We are now working on better delivery options.”


Cancer experts in Britain said the research solved a riddle that biologists had puzzled over for decades, why cells did not naturally prevent the proliferation of cancer. “This is an unexpected finding,” said Dr Chris Bakal, a specialist in how cells change shape to become cancerous, at the Institute for Cancer Research in London.

The research was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.


Daily Telegraph

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I often marvel at the Mind's power to focus on considerations that can lead to quantum leaps of well-being.


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The Amygdala Is NOT the Brain's Fear Center: By Joseph E. Ladoux, Ph.D.

The Amygdala Is NOT the Brain's Fear Center:  By Joseph E. Ladoux, Ph.D. | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

I’ve been studying the amygdala for more than 30 years. When I started this work, research on this brain region was a lonely field of inquiry. The hippocampus was all therage, and I sometimes felt jealous of the attention lavished on this brain region because of its contribution to memory.  These days, though, it is the amygdala that is in the spotlight.  This little neural nugget has gone from an obscure area of the brain to practically a household word, one that has come to be synonymous with “fear.” And for many people, my name, too, is practically synonymous with “fear.”  I am often said to have identified the amygdala as the brain’s “fear” center.  But the fact is, I have not done this, nor has anyone else. 


The idea that the amygdala is the home of fear in the brain is just that—an idea.  It is not a scientific finding but instead a conclusion based on an interpretation of a finding.  So what is the finding, what is the interpretation, and how did the interpretation come about?


The Finding:  When the amygdala is damaged, previously threatening stimuli come to be treated as benign.  The classic discovery was that monkeys with amygdala damage were “tamed;” snakes, for example, no longer elicited so-called fight-flight responses after amygdala damage.  Later studies in rats by me, and others, mapped out the amygdala’s role in a neural system that detects and responds to threats, and similar circuits were found to be operative when the human brain processes threats.


The Interpretation: Since damage to the amygdala eliminates behavioral responses to threats, feelings of "fear" are products of the amygdala. People are indeed less responsive to threats when the amygdala is damaged (in humans amygdala damage can occur as a result of epilepsy or other medical conditions or their surgical treatment). Yet, these people can still experience (feel) “fear.” In other words, the amygdala is an important part of the circuit that allows the brain to detect and respond to threats but is not necessary to feel “fear.”


Brain imaging studies of healthy humans (people without brain damage) suggest something similar. When they are exposed to threats, neural activity in the amygdala increases and body responses (like sweating or increased heart rate) result. This is true even if the threatening stimuli are presented subliminally, such that the person is not consciously aware that the threat is present and does not consciously experience (feel) “fear.”  Amygdala activity does not mean that fear is experienced.


The conclusion that the amygdala is the brain’s fear center wrongly assumes that the feelings of “fear” and the responses elicited by threats are products of the same brain system. While amygdala circuits are directly responsible for behavioral/physiological responses elicited by threats, they are not directly responsible for feelings of “fear.”


How did the interpretation come to be?  We humans frequently feel afraid when we find ourselves freezing or fleeing when in harm’s way. In other words, these two things (the feeling and the body responses) tend to be tightly correlated in our conscious introspections. These introspections are talked about and become shared experiences that are ingrained as natural truths. Most people thus believe that the feeling of fear is the reason an animal or person runs from danger; or that the classic facial expression we know as “fear” is driven by feeling afraid.  But when it comes to the brain, what is obvious is not always what is the case. The purpose of science is to go beyond the obvious to reveal the deeper truths that cannot be gleaned simply from observing nature.


One of the first things a scientist learns is that a correlation does not necessarily reveal causation.  The interpretation that the amygdala is the brain’s fear center confuses correlation and causation. Actually, there are two confusions involved: (1) because we often feel afraid when we are responding to danger, fear is the reason we respond the way we do; and (2) because the amygdala is responsible for the response to danger, it must also be responsible for the feeling of fear.


From the beginning, my research suggested that the amygdala contributes to non-conscious aspects of fear, by which I meant the detection of threats and the control of body responses that help cope with the threat. Conscious fear, I argued in my books The Emotional Brain (Simon and Schuster, 1996) and Synaptic Self (Viking, 2002), and most recently in Anxious (Viking, 2015), is a product of cognitive systems in the neocortex that operate in parallel with the amygdala circuit.  But that subtlety (the distinction between conscious and non-conscious aspects of fear) was lost on most people. 


When one hears the word “fear,” the pull of the vernacular meaning is so strong that the mind is compelled to think of the feeling of being afraid.  For this reason, I eventually concluded that it is not helpful to talk about conscious and non-conscious aspects of fear.  A feeling like “fear” is a conscious experience. To use the word “fear” in any other way only leads to confusion.


The amygdala has a role in fear, but it is not the one that is popularly described. It’s role in fear is more fundamental and also more mundane.  It is responsible for detecting and responding to threats, and only contributes to feelings of fear indirectly.  For example, the amygdala outputs driven by threat detection alter information processing in diverse regions of the brain.  One important set of outputs result in the secretion of chemicals throughout the brain (norepinephrine, acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin) and body (hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol).  In situations of danger, these chemicals alert the organism that something important is happening. As a result, attention systems in the neocortex guide the perceptual search the environment for an explanation for the highly aroused state.  The meaning of the environmental stimuli present is added by the retrieval of memories. If the stimuli are known sources of danger, “fear” schema are retrieved from memory.  My hypothesis, then, is that the feeling of “fear” results when the outcome of these various processes (attention, perception, memory, arousal) coalesce in consciousness and compel one to feel “fear.” This can only happen in a brain that has the cognitive wherewithal have the concept of “me,” or what Endel Tulving has called “autonoetic consciousness.”  In a later post, I will elaborate on the autonoetic nature of our conscious feelings. 


There’s nothing wrong with speculation in science (I just speculated about how feelings come about). But when a speculative interpretation becomes ingrained in the culture of science, and the culture at large, as an unquestioned fact, we have a problem.  This is problem is especially acute in neuroscience, where we start from mental state words (like fear) that have historical meanings, and treat the words as if they are entities that live in brain areas (like the amygdala).


In sum, there is no fear center out of which effuses the feeling of being afraid. "Fear" is, in my view, better thought of as a cognitively assembled conscious experience that is related to threat processing, but that should not be confused with the non-conscious processes that detect and control responses to threats.


Postscript:  Be suspicious of any statement that says a brain area is a center responsible for some function. The notion of functions being products of brain areas or centers is left over from the days when most evidence about brain function was based on the effects of brain lesions localized to specific areas.  Today, we think of functions as products of systems rather than of areas. Neurons in areas contribute because they are part of a system. The amygdala, for example, contributes to threat detection because it is part of a threat detection system.  And just because the amygdala contributes to threat detection does not mean that threat detection is the only function to which it contributes. Amygdala neurons, for example, are also components of systems that process the significance of stimuli related to eating, drinking, sex, and addictive drugs


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Leading with Emotional Intelligence: The Power of Empathy

Leading with Emotional Intelligence: The Power of Empathy | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The business community has embraced the concept of emotional intelligence and its importance ever since Daniel Goleman's best-selling book, Working with Emotional Intelligence(1998). The challenge is to demonstrate that such competencies significantly impact employee performance.


Ten Ways to Develop Empathy

1. Keep a note of situations in which you felt you were able to demonstrate empathy and a note when you felt you did not. Make a note of missed opportunities to respond with empathy.


2. Become aware of incidents where there may be some underlying concerns that are not explicitly expressed by others.


3. Make a note of possible emotions or feelings that the other person may be experiencing. Keep an open mind and never assume, merely explore the possibilities.


4. Develop a list of questions to ask at your next encounter with that person. Try to make the questions open-ended, that is, questions that can't be answered by yes or no.


5.  Practice listening without interrupting. Wait until the other person is complete with their point of view before offering yours.


6.  Avoid being defensive in order to create an open dialogue where possibilities can be explored freely.


7.  Allow creative time for people to express opinions and ideas without judgment.

8. Practice active listening: always check out the meaning of what was said with the person speaking. Paraphrasing what was said helps to clear up misconceptions and to deepen understanding.

9. Always bring focus back into the conversation. Remember that optimal effectiveness is achieved by a combination of focus and empathy.

10. Work on achieving an effective balance of focus, goal orientation and empathic listening.


Dr. Maynard Brusman 

Via Edwin Rutsch
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Don’t Believe These 7 Bullying Myths

Don’t Believe These 7 Bullying Myths | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Don’t Believe These 7 Bullying Myths

Two teenage boys bullying their classmate in school hall.
Bullying has been a favorite media topic since 2011 when President Obama launched his anti-bullying campaign. But too often, the media’s reports on bullying are just plain wrong, according to Dorothy Espelage, PhD.

“It’s not grounded in science or evidence,” she said at a Friday plenary address on the topic at APA’s Annual Convention.

Espelage, a professor at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, who for 20 years has conducted research on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, dating violence and gang violence, listed seven the myths the media are irresponsibly reporting:

Myth #1: Bullying is an epidemic. Wrong. Bullying rates vary from school to school and some kids go to schools where there is no bullying.

Myth #2: Bullying is linked to suicide. No, it’s just one of many predictors of suicide.

Myth #3: Bullies are budding criminals. Research shows bullies have diverse outcomes.

Myth #4: Bullies need to be punished –- the idea of “zero tolerance.” That doesn’t work, she said, because it ignores that bullying is a group phenomenon that starts around fifth grade.

Myth #5: Bullies come from dysfunctional families. Not true. Lots of bullies come from typical families.

Myth #6: Bullying is “hard-wired” in youth. Really wrong -– it’s malleable and it’s environment that matters when it comes to bullying.

Myth #7: Cyberbullying is unique. No, cyberbullying is just one mode of bullying. Bullying usually starts face to face and continues online.

The fact Espelage wishes more people would realize is that 1 out of 3 boys and 1 out 5 girls engage homophobic teasing –- name calling or phrases like, “That’s so gay.” It emerges in middle school, but often teachers don’t address it. The result? “We are setting the groundwork for sexual harassment in our schools,” Espelage said.
Jim Manske's insight:

Myth # 8:  Bullies are creeps.  As far as I can tell, those who sometimes display "bullying behavior" are fully human beings, and thus their natural state is compassion.  Those we label bullies need empathy too, and our honesty.  What might the world be like if 5th graders received Nonviolent Communication support as the social pressures for conformity build, so that all can learn skills of self-compassion, empathy and honesty?

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The Business Value of Empathy

The Business Value of Empathy | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

What is an interactive business without empathy? What is a business team without an understanding of the employees’ sentiments? What is an organization serving people’s needs without an actual acknowledgement of their needs? What is a company without an understanding of how their service will actually benefit people and their well being?

A business without empathetic traits is a hollow one. Why? Because empathy is a characteristic that most successful businesses inherently require.

A business that demonstrates the capacity to see things from the point of view of the consumer, to put themselves in the consumer’s shoes, is a multidimensional business, a business that can get an accurate idea of consumer’s needs.

 Moreover, an “empathetic business” is already putting themselves in a place for success by just genuinely caring for the consumer in this way. 

By Holly Rosen |

Via Edwin Rutsch
Caroline Vincelet's curator insight, July 30, 3:29 AM

Recrutez un salarié sur des critères des compétences émotionnelles et gagnez 90.000 dollars de plus chaque année.

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New MIT Study: Nanoparticles Can Clean up Chemicals, BPA, Pesticides, from Soil, Water

New MIT Study: Nanoparticles Can Clean up Chemicals, BPA, Pesticides, from Soil, Water | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
(EnviroNews World News) — An accidental discovery made by medical researches has yielded a “quick” and “easy” way to remove toxic chemicals from the environment MIT News has reported. In a paper published in Nature Communications, scientists from MIT and the Federal University of Goiás…
Jim Manske's insight:

I love it when our "mistakes" lead to unexpected breakthroughs!

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Plan Less and Enjoy More: Give Yourself Space to Simply Be

Plan Less and Enjoy More: Give Yourself Space to Simply Be | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
When we plan everything, it's harder to be present. We all need to find pockets of time not to fill, but instead, to take some deep breaths and just be.
Jim Manske's insight:

May you enjoy Being with family and friends as you celebrate our Interdependence this weekend!

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