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Exercise 'potentially as effective' as many drugs for common diseases

Exercise 'potentially as effective' as many drugs for common diseases | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Physical activity is potentially as effective as many drug interventions for patients with existing coronary heart disease and stroke, suggests a review of evidence.
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Is Empathy Possible in the Digital Age?

Philosopher Roman Krznaric interviewed about his new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution on Chanel 4's SundayBrunch. Recorded 6th July, 2014 www.romankrznaric.com
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Books - Paul Ekman Group, LLC

Books - Paul Ekman Group, LLC | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Culture of Empathy Builder Page:  Paul Ekman

Why isn’t everyone concerned about the welfare of all people, everywhere?Is global compassion a gift, like musical talent, a virtue of the few?

Or might we all have the potential for global compassion within us, dormant?



Moving Toward Global Compassion explores
these possibilities, and offers a new take
on empathy and altruism.


In the closing chapter the Dalai Lama discusses these ideas with Ekman.

Via Edwin Rutsch
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3 Quotes That Teach Us About Being Human-Leslie Ralph, Ph.D.

3 Quotes That Teach Us About Being Human-Leslie Ralph, Ph.D. | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

I am a reforming perfectionist, reforming being the key word. Change in our relationships with ourselves is a process. It requires vulnerability, acceptance, and compassion.


I’ve gone through phases of comparing myself to others and discounting my own good qualities. I’ve experienced the restlessness that comes with never feeling good enough. I have developed my own love/hate relationship with control and certainty.


It has not always been easy to look at this part of myself. Any of us may have that place within that we would rather not see. We wish to hide it for fear of rejection and disconnection, or we may wish to deny it to avoid the discomfort that comes with acknowledgment. It is hard to see ourselves clearly from this position.  This is when the “good enoughs” and “shoulds” may be most persuasive.

We can become identified with our problems, emotions, and thoughts.

Long before I understood my relationship with myself, I was aware of the exceptions to these feelings. I enjoyed the brief moments of separation from my thoughts and judgments. In those moments, I could appreciate me.


Time with nature has always helped me find my center. An act as simple as sitting in the backyard could provide me with peace. Even while moving, I find that nature encourages stillness within.

The sky, stars, and trees have a great deal to teach us if we are ready to learn.


“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.” – PemaChodron


As I mentioned, any of us can become identified with problems, emotions, and thoughts. We can be attached to what was or what should be.  I’ve certainly been there.


The sky and its changing faces teach us about resilience and acceptance. The sky can teach us that most things in life are temporary.

We are not shattered by life’s obstacles any more than the sky is shattered by thunder and lightning. We are not washed away by tears any more than the sky is washed away by rain. Our emotions are no more permanent than the wind.


Even after the brightest days, the sky must also see the dark of night. We, too, must learn that both the good and bad shall pass.

Isn’t it liberating to know that are like the sky?


We can remain, stable and expansive, accepting of both the ups and downs in life. We can find peace, even in times of disorder. We can accept the present moment knowing that change is on its way.

“The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  


Sometimes, we overlook what is good. Positive events can be overshadowed by troubles. Close friendships may be invisible in times of conflict. Our own value seems to fade with comparison and competition.


The stars can be like this. Have you ever noticed what happens to the stars away from the bright city lights? They are luminous. They are everywhere.  It seems that they have just appeared, but the stars had really been there all along. They were just covered up.


Now ask yourself, when was the last time you actively noticed the stars? It can be easy go about our evenings and never look up. The stars are always there waiting to be revealed, but we must also remember to look for them.


In this way, the stars teach us about gratitude and self-compassion. They teach us that many good things have been there all along, even if we can’t see them.


It is important for us to first remember that like the stars, our strengths, close relationships, and positive moments are there even when they seem invisible. We must then remember to look. Appreciation is not always automatic, and kindness toward ourselves may not be routine. We can, however, learn.


What are your stars, and what may conceal them? What can you change to see them more clearly?


“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


For me, perfectionism has everything to do with vulnerability. We may fear that allowing for imperfection will result in failure. We may perceive embracing our imperfections as giving up. We can tell ourselves that allowing someone else to really see us could lead to rejection.


The forest can teach us about vulnerability and relationships. Within the forest reside creatures, many of whom are hidden in dark spaces. There are shadows in the forest. There are trails to unknown destinations.


There are also clearings, brooks, and flowers in the forest. In the forest, one might hear birdsong or happen upon a majestic view.


We could avoid the forest to stay safe and avoid getting lost, but at what cost?


Like the darkness of a forest, we may all fear that secret place within ourselves that we see as unsafe, unknowable, and unlovable. We avoid looking altogether. We may disguise, suppress, and bury.

We might similarly resist vulnerability in relationships. We hold ourselves back and close ourselves off. We do this because allowing others in leaves us vulnerable.


As with the forest, entering that uncertain territory holds risks but also abundant rewards. When we stop hiding, we can truly know ourselves. When we are vulnerable with others, we can also find true connection. Only then can we reveal the good within us and appreciate the good in others.


For me, nature has allowed me to find a center and teaches me about my relationship with myself and others. What are your experiences with perfectionism, gratitude, compassion, and the like? Where do you find your center?


We can become identified with our problems, emotions, and thoughts.

Long before I understood my relationship with myself, I was aware of the exceptions to these feelings. I enjoyed the brief moments of separation from my thoughts and judgments. In those moments, I could appreciate me.


Time with nature has always helped me find my center. An act as simple as sitting in the backyard could provide me with peace. Even while moving, I find that nature encourages stillness within.

The sky, stars, and trees have a great deal to teach us if we are ready to learn.

“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.” – PemaChodron


As I mentioned, any of us can become identified with problems, emotions, and thoughts. We can be attached to what was or what should be.  I’ve certainly been there.


The sky and its changing faces teach us about resilience and acceptance. The sky can teach us that most things in life are temporary.

We are not shattered by life’s obstacles any more than the sky is shattered by thunder and lightning. We are not washed away by tears any more than the sky is washed away by rain. Our emotions are no more permanent than the wind.

Even after the brightest days, the sky must also see the dark of night. We, too, must learn that both the good and bad shall pass.

Isn’t it liberating to know that are like the sky?

We can remain, stable and expansive, accepting of both the ups and downs in life. We can find peace, even in times of disorder. We can accept the present moment knowing that change is on its way.

“The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  

Sometimes, we overlook what is good. Positive events can be overshadowed by troubles. Close friendships may be invisible in times of conflict. Our own value seems to fade with comparison and competition.


The stars can be like this. Have you ever noticed what happens to the stars away from the bright city lights? They are luminous. They are everywhere.  It seems that they have just appeared, but the stars had really been there all along. They were just covered up.


Now ask yourself, when was the last time you actively noticed the stars? It can be easy go about our evenings and never look up. The stars are always there waiting to be revealed, but we must also remember to look for them.


In this way, the stars teach us about gratitude and self-compassion. They teach us that many good things have been there all along, even if we can’t see them.


It is important for us to first remember that like the stars, our strengths, close relationships, and positive moments are there even when they seem invisible. We must then remember to look. Appreciation is not always automatic, and kindness toward ourselves may not be routine. We can, however, learn.


What are your stars, and what may conceal them? What can you change to see them more clearly?

“I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

For me, perfectionism has everything to do with vulnerability. We may fear that allowing for imperfection will result in failure. We may perceive embracing our imperfections as giving up. We can tell ourselves that allowing someone else to really see us could lead to rejection.


The forest can teach us about vulnerability and relationships. Within the forest reside creatures, many of whom are hidden in dark spaces. There are shadows in the forest. There are trails to unknown destinations.

There are also clearings, brooks, and flowers in the forest. In the forest, one might hear birdsong or happen upon a majestic view.


We could avoid the forest to stay safe and avoid getting lost, but at what cost?


Like the darkness of a forest, we may all fear that secret place within ourselves that we see as unsafe, unknowable, and unlovable. We avoid looking altogether. We may disguise, suppress, and bury.

We might similarly resist vulnerability in relationships. We hold ourselves back and close ourselves off. We do this because allowing others in leaves us vulnerable.


As with the forest, entering that uncertain territory holds risks but also abundant rewards. When we stop hiding, we can truly know ourselves. When we are vulnerable with others, we can also find true connection. Only then can we reveal the good within us and appreciate the good in others.


For me, nature has allowed me to find a center and teaches me about my relationship with myself and others. What are your experiences with perfectionism, gratitude, compassion, and the like? Where do you find your center?

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Oregon prison workers: 'Mindfulness' training calms even the most tightly wound

Oregon prison workers: 'Mindfulness' training calms even the most tightly wound | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Oregon prison officials blanched when they learned about the terrible physical and emotional toll that corrections work was taking on their front-line staffers.


They took a novel tack, hiring a consultant who trains people in the Buddhist tradition to improve their physical and emotional health. He is also a convicted drug smuggler who served 14 years in federal prison.

Corrections officials didn't immediately publicize those bona fides when they pitched his training program to the officers watching over the state's 14,700 prisoners.


"The ultimate goal," they wrote to staffers, "is a culture shift from one of denial, stress, burnout, untreated trauma and resulting emotional problems to a culture of healthy self-management and self-care, emotionally-socially intelligent communication, healthy stress and conflict management, and overall staff wellness and safety."

Sixty staffers – many of them corrections officers – signed up for the pilot program.


Sgt. Laura Hinkle, a stalwart corrections supervisor then in her ninth year at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, remembered the first day of training. The consultant – a white-haired guy named Fleet Maull – talked about "mindfulness"and "emotional intelligence," then asked the group to try a breathing exercise.


"Close your eyes," he said.

Fleet Maull, a Buddhist priest and former federal prisoner, taught breathing and relaxation exercises at a training session in the Oregon State Penitentiary complex earlier this year.Bryan Denson/The Oregonian 

Hinkle rolled her eyes. What was this guy smoking? There was no way corrections officers were going to close their eyes on a tier brimming with prisoners. This guy clearly didn't know anything about life inside the walls.


Afterward, Hinkle walked over to Kelly Raths, then the prison chaplain.

"I'm done," she said. "I can't do this."


Raths told her to keep an open mind. Come back for at least one more session, she said.


Only later did Hinkle learn that Maull knew all about life inside.

The Department of Corrections hit an emotional rock bottom in 2012, prompting radical changes to reduce the stress of its corrections staffers. Two corrections officers committed suicide in 2011, and another in 2012.


A story in The Oregonian exposed the internal wounds, pointing out that corrections staffers suffered PTSD at a rate several times higher than the general population.


"There was a sense of urgency and need," Raths said.


She and others did their research. Corrections officials chose Maull –a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist Community, founder of the Prison Dharma Network (now called the Prison Mindfulness Institute), and who casts himself as a master consultant and executive coach.

But how do you sell roughly 2,500 corrections officers on such concepts as "mind fitness" and "emotional intelligence"?


It's counterintuitive, Raths said, for corrections officers to think of stress reduction as an antidote to their poor health, poor diets, and difficulty in their relationships at work and home.


"Their adrenal glands, their (emotional) systems, are burned out," she said. "They're tired. ... So now I'm asking you to enter a whole new way of being. And your level of comfort around that? It's hard."


Corrections staffers with 12 or more years on the job were less receptive to learning new ways to deal with their high-stress jobs, and a study published last November by Portland State University confirmed that those veterans also had more problems. 


"For folks who were newer to corrections, it was an easier sell," Raths said.


Half of the 60 staffers who began the program dropped out, and prison officials rushed to find replacements for some of the vacancies. Some of the dropouts thought the concepts were silly, and a few felt bamboozled when they learned – several sessions in – that Maull was a convicted felon.


Hinkle was six or seven sessions into the yearlong training before she bought into the program. What turned her around was an exercise Maull taught them that he called a "body scan."


It's an old technique. You lie on your back and close your eyes. You breathe in and out, slowly feeling the weight of your heels, moving to your calves, thighs, buttocks, lower back, the curve of your spine, your neck and the back of your head. If you do it right, you can almost feel yourself levitating.


Maull told them when they felt the back of their head to think about how they felt at that moment.


"I slept like a baby," Hinkle said.


A big portion of the training centered on corrections staffers learning to share their feelings with co-workers. That's an against-the-grain concept for traditionalists taught not to show vulnerability inside prison walls, said Michelle Dodson, a spokeswoman at the maximum-security penitentiary where Hinkle works.


Hinkle says she has learned to turn to co-workers and say, " 'Hey, I'm having a stressful day. Kinda watch me.' That's very helpful, especially where I work."


She also learned to review her day at work on the drive home and check the negative baggage at the door.


"That way," she said, "I'm not going home and bombarding my wife with all kinds of stressful things."


Perhaps the greatest test of her stress management was the day last December, when she waded into a cellblock to break up a fight. She was taken from the prison with a broken leg and off work for more than two months.


"When I found myself getting anxious to get back to work," she said, "I just went through the mindfulness exercises that Fleet taught us and just relaxed, thinking, 'OK, I'll get better when I get better.' "


Maull, in an interview, explained that his training combines the complexity of mainstream neuroscience with the basic principle of "self-empathy": When we are OK with ourselves, we do well in life. When we fear, we fail.


"Stress is natural," he said. "Chronic stress is a problem."


The program concluded this year, and it's unclear whether it will be brought back.


During a training session earlier this year, Maull struck a little bell to call to order a group of corrections staffers, some wearing gray uniforms.


They took seats in plastic chairs, feet flat on tan institutional carpet, hands relaxed in their laps, necks of rubber, eyelids drooped like sunning geckos.


Maull told them in a quiet tone to inhale using their diaphragms and exhale slowly through their noses.  They all took deep, steady breaths, the picture of serenity.


"Notice how it changes your state of mind," he said.


By then, he was preaching to the converted.


They had broken up into small groups early in their training, units of roughly eight people who met twice a month to practice what they'd been taught in three daylong sessions. Hinkle's group grew so tight that they vowed to keep meeting when funding for the program ran out. They had created their own support network.


One day standing watch in the penitentiary visiting room, Hinkle looked into the sea of faces and spied a prisoner, his face growing red, wiping the corners of his eyes. Now she heard his voice growing loud and animated. By the time she reached him, he was weeping.


His family had brought him bad news. Hinkle now pulled him aside to another room.


"I know, obviously, you got some bad news," she said. "Do me a favor, sit down," she said in a calming voice. "Take some deep breaths for me."

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20 Things You Didn't Know About... Play ~Jonathan Keats

20 Things You Didn't Know About... Play ~Jonathan Keats | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

1. Children will play whether they live in a suburb or a war zone. The urge is so strong that children even played in concentration camps during the Holocaust. 

2. Play reflects a child’s surroundings. In the Confederate South, black children held mock slave auctions, a psychological means of coping with extreme anxiety. 

3. Essential to the growing brain, play stimulates development of the cerebellum, which coordinates movement, and the frontal lobe, which regulates decision-making and impulse control. 

4. Washington State University neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp believes diminishing classroom playtime could be responsible for the recent rise of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

5. And then there are communication skills. A 1981 study showed that preschoolers use more complex language while playing make-believe than during ordinary conversation. 

6. University of Pittsburgh ecologist Jonathan Pruitt has observed juvenile spiders playing make-believe, simulating copulation before reaching sexual maturity to improve their courtship skills. 

7. For wild Alaskan brown bears, roughhousing seems to make cubs more resilient. According to a 2009 study in Evolutionary Ecology Research, just 1 percent more time spent playing correlated with an 18 percent greater chance of survival into adulthood. The study’s authors theorized play could give the cubs a behavioral or even immunological advantage. 

8. Young dolphins’ spontaneous games, such as blowing bubbles for fun, might be related to learning more practical applications: Dolphins sometimes use “bubble curtains” to trap fish when hunting.

9. Generally speaking, the larger a mammal’s brain, the greater its tendency to play, according to a 2001 Journal of Comparative Psychology study that correlated play with relative brain size across 15 orders, from Rodentia to Primates. 

10. Though most other mammals stop playing in adulthood, dogs are an exception. Bred to be our dependents, they retain frisky puppy behavior throughout life. 

11. Speaking of frisky: According to Pennsylvania State University anthropologist Garry Chick, men act playfully to signal nonaggressiveness to a potential mate, while women do it to evoke youthful fertility. 

12. Unless we’re talking about cosplay — the act of dressing up as, and assuming the identity of, a fictional character, popular at fan conventions. In 2013, Australian researchers argued that cosplay is motivated by the desire to join the unreal with the real. 

13. Real play mastery takes real work: Even the most talented performers need a minimum of 10,000 hours of intense practice to attain elite status in their field, whether it’s volleyball, violin or chess, according to Florida State University’s K. Anders Ericsson. 

14. But Brunel University researchers found that it took anywhere from 3,000 to 24,000 hours for someone to become a chess master, depending on general cognitive abilities. 

15. Teens have no problem hitting 10,000 hours of playing time, at least when it comes to video games. That’s the average time gamers spend by the age of 21. 

16. Not that video games are just for kids. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, reported last year in Nature that playing NeuroRacer, a video game designed for their study, boosted both long- and short-term memory in participants as old as 79. No word on whether players forgot to switch off their turn signals, though. 

17. Game play was one of the first popular uses for computers. In 1962, MIT students programmed an action game called Spacewar! on the school’s $120,000 DEC PDP-1. The game swiftly spread when DEC began installing it on new units to demonstrate the machine’s capabilities. 

18. The history of human flight is grounded in play, beginning with the Chinese top, a toy propeller on a stick invented around 400 B.C. The same type of top was later a favorite boyhood plaything of British inventor George Cayley, and inspired his pioneering 19th-century flying machines. 

19. Playfulness has also been the basis of major scientific discoveries. Albert Einstein formulated his special theory of relativity after imagining himself chasing a beam of light. 

20. UC Berkeley psychologist Alison Gopnik says all child’s play is science. When kids play with a new toy, they use probabilistic models to determine how it works. They’re conducting experiments — just like the psychologists who study child’s play. 

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Sowing Empathy and Justice in Schools Through Restorative Practices | NEA Today

Sowing Empathy and Justice in Schools Through Restorative Practices | NEA Today | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The kid wants to serve the volleyball, but his high school classmates ignore him. “Shut up!” he pleads, but they carry on—laughing as if he said nothing. He loses it, hurls the ball, storms out of the gym, and shouts, “I said, Shut your #&$% mouths!”


Game over.


Suspending or expelling a student, especially one who is angry or disruptive, is like ordering a triple Big Mac. It’s a devilishly quick and easy answer—and popular, too—but it’s an unhealthy choice for the long-term well-being of students who, after just one suspension, are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out, and enter the criminal justice system.


“Far too many of our most vulnerable students are excluded from class for minor, non-violent behavior. Too often this sends them along an unnecessary journey down the school-to-prison pipeline,” says NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. With that in mind, an increasing number of NEA members are turning to an alternative on the menu of school discipline: Restorative practices, including restorative justice.


Consider restorative practices to be the slow-cooked, more healthful alternative to suspensions or expulsions. The key ingredients are time, training, and a willingness to commit to respectful listening, but research shows that restorative practices reduce behavioral problems, including bullying. That’s why NEA is partnering with the Advancement Project and others to provide NEA members with training and resources on restorative practices, including a new online toolkit.


“I have a picture on my wall of a huge tree with its roots. The point of restorative practices is to get to the roots,” says Rita Danna, restorative justice facilitator for Littleton, Colo., schools. “These kiddos you see in your office all the time— you lecture them, you suspend them, and then they come back and you do it all over again. But the restorative process yanks at the root. It helps students realize they have the power to do things differently.”


Zero tolerance policies and other blame-and-punish approaches haven’t made our schools safer—they’ve actually done more harm than good, pushing kids out of learning environments and furthering inequities in our schools and in society. A better answer, one supported by NEA’s official position on school discipline, is one that prevents problems and builds understanding.


That kid—the one who served up something a little spicier than the volleyball? When he left the gym, he went straight to Danna. “He wanted to apologize, especially to the one kid that he had been speaking more directly to,” she recalls. He also wanted to share his feelings of frustration, and hear them acknowledged by his peers. And then, even better, he wanted to find ways to avoid future conflicts.


“The biggest thing we do is create empathy, and the way you get empathy is by talking about how you feel and by listening to how others feel,” says Danna. “I tell them that you have to understand each other’s perspectives. It doesn’t mean you have to be friends. But you do have to figure out how to get through your day together. It’s a very assertive way of teaching them to take care of themselves.”



Black students are 3.5 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than White students—and the racial disparities start at a shockingly early age. Four- and 5-year-old Black students account for almost half of the preschoolers suspended more than once from school, even as they make up just 18 percent of preschool students, U.S. Education Department statistics show.


What’s more, a closer look at the data reveals that students of color, including Native Americans, are more likely to be suspended, expelled, or arrested for behaviors that go ignored in their White peers. (LGBT youth and students with disabilities, of all races, also have disproportionately large discipline rates.) And, while White students are more likely to be nabbed for “observable” offenses, like fighting or drug possession, Black students are more likely to be disciplined for less objective offenses, like “disrespect.”


Race is undeniably a factor and disciplinary reactions often are led by implicit bias, federal investigators have concluded. “You really have to look at the data to see what kind of challenges you have and where those challenges might be. Nobody thinks it’s their school,” says Harry Lawson, associate director of NEA’s Human and Civil Rights department.


In Colorado, closing your eyes to the disparities is no longer an option. In 2013, lawmakers passed the Smart Schools Discipline Law, restricting the use of suspensions and expulsions and requiring the use of other strategies, including restorative practices. Since then, the number of suspensions has fallen by 25 percent—from 108,000 in 2007 to 80,000 last year. Meanwhile, school attendance and punctuality have improved by 30 percent.


These considerable differences reflect a dramatic shift in the way educators think about punishment, says Eleanor Harrison, a school psychologist and restorative justice specialist in the Cherry Creek School District, near Denver. It doesn’t mean they’ve gone soft on crime, says the NEA member, but it does mean educators see opportunities in the mistakes made by students—“not just to heal, but to grow.”


And Colorado isn’t alone. A restorative justice program reduced suspensions at one Oakland, Calif., middle school by 87 percent in its first year, according to a UC Berkeley School of Law evaluation. Now, nearly two dozen Oakland schools have similar programs. The evaluation said the program reduced fighting and “was helping relationships with other students.” Similarly, a report from Ypsilanti High School in Michigan, where restorative justice took root in 2012, found that 98 days of suspension were averted in 2013, and 87 percent of students said they had learned to better manage their conflicts.



For some educators, restorative practices may be as simple as offering an authentic greeting to every student every day. For others, the practice revolves around in-depth facilitated “circles.” These circles can be let’s-get-to-know-each-other huddles held daily or weekly to lasso any potential disruptions to student learning. But many are held after rumors float and fists fly, with the aim of righting wrongs and restoring relationships.


A fly on the wall would surely hear these three questions: “What happened?” “Who has been affected?” “What can be done to repair the harm?” These conversations take time, acknowledges Harrison, but “to my mind, it’s a more educational process.” And you might be surprised at the reparations that students offer: “Sometimes we have to say, ‘OK, that’s too much! You really don’t have to sell your soul to make amends,’” she says.


Ultimately, it’s about creating opportunities for more learning. “Just yesterday, I went into a high school math class where the teacher said her students weren’t focused. They were on their phones during class, listening to music, sitting on the heaters,” says Danna. “I asked questions like, ‘What do you hear your teacher saying? How would it feel to be in her shoes?’ We ended up with the teacher agreeing to do more kinesthetic activities, Legos, etc., and the kids agreeing to be more respectful. They also came up with this flip-chart idea that the teacher could use to signal an appropriate time to use music.”


“You always need to walk away with an agreement, something that you can hold up and say, ‘We agreed to this,’” says Danna. Returning to the image of the tree on her wall, she says, “It really makes people accountable on a deeper level, on an emotional level.”


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Hugs Have Healing Power, Study Says

Hugs Have Healing Power, Study Says | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Ever wonder why sometimes a hug is all you need? You can't explain it, but there's just something comforting about snuggling up to your spouse after a rough day or giving mom a hug after a long time apart.

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Empathy Lessons: Training Police To Understand People With Mental Illness

Empathy Lessons: Training Police To Understand People With Mental Illness | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
To help them handle the growing proportion of police work that involves mental health crises, some Massachusetts officers take advanced training that teaches them to better understand -- and empathize with -- people with mental illness.
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» The Power of a Mindful Minute in Schools (and at Home)~Elisha Goldstein

» The Power of a Mindful Minute in Schools (and at Home)~Elisha Goldstein | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

A “bellringer” is a short activity that some teachers put on the board in the beginning of a class so students have something to do while attendance is being taken. Recently, one teacher among a quietly growing group triedsomething radically different to start his class –a mindfulness practice. What did he notice? Student participation is up and class disruption is down. He also noticed that the quality of their writing was far better and students wanted to continue the practice.


This is completely in line with a growing number of anecdotes talking about the power of bringing mindfulness to kids, tweens, teens and older adolescents.


One of my favorite clips is from ABC when they interviewed some kids in the early programs of Mindful Schools who said that when he is stressed about an upcoming test, he remembers that he can take a breath and then the thought comes up, “I can make it.” (Unfortunately this clip is now labeled “private” for some reason on YouTube so it’s not accessible). I know Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child, has a number of wonderful anecdotes like this. Amy Saltzman, MD just came out with her new book A Still Quiet Place with a number of examples of the benefit of mindfulness with kids.


My wife, Stefanie Goldstein, PhD and I co-developed the 8-weekCALM program (Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness) and during those weeks we also host a daylong retreat where we deepen the experience of mindfulness and the teens can’t use their phones. So many amazing insights come from this including greater awareness of automatic perceptions, a greater feeling of confidence around emotion regulation and the experience that silence at times and being in nature can be enjoyable and rejuvenating.


The term “Digital Native” created by Gary Small, MD is for the younger generation who has grown up in this digital world. They swim in the waters of over stimulation and digital connection at their finger tips. More than ever, they need that mindful minute to give them the experience that they have the power within them to be still and get quiet.

What would it be like if more teachers (and parents) rose up and began giving the experience of that minute to their students? For the students are ready for it it would become an opportunity for insight, growth and possibility, for those who are not, it would be a seed planted for the future.


But if there is one thing I’ve learned in my time as a therapist and mindfulness educator is that change with our kids does not start with them, it starts with the family. It’s critical for parents to begin practicing presence . Then they can begin teaching and reinforcing it to their kids.


This is one of the reasons why my wife and I are launching the firstMindfulness retreat for the entire family. Where the family can learn practices and be together engaging in silence at times and mindful activities at other times.


Bringing a mindful moment to our kids in schools is critical to this time, but it starts with us and it starts right now.

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Heal the body By Harnessing the Mind - Jo Marchant

Heal the body By Harnessing the Mind - Jo Marchant | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

We tend to think of medicine as being all about pills and potions recommended to us by another person—a doctor. But science is starting to reveal that for many conditions another ingredient could be critical to the success of these drugs, or perhaps even replace them. That ingredient is nothing more than your own mind.


Here are six ways to raid your built-in medicine cabinet.

1. Better believe it

“I talk to my pills,” says Dan Moerman, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. “I say, ‘Hey guys, I know you’re going to do a terrific job.’”


That might sound eccentric, but based on what we’ve learned about the placebo effect, there is good reason to think that talking to your pills really can make them do a terrific job. The way we think and feel about medical treatments can dramatically influence how our bodies respond.


Simply believing that a treatment will work may trigger the desired effect even if the treatment is inert—a sugar pill, say, or a saline injection. For a wide range of conditions, from depression to Parkinson’s, osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis, it is clear that the placebo response is far from imaginary. Trials have shown measurable changes such as the release of natural painkillers, altered neuronal firing patterns, lowered blood pressure or heart rate and boosted immune response, all depending on the beliefs of the patient.


It has always been assumed that the placebo effect only works if people are conned into believing that they are getting an actual active drug. But now it seems this may not be true. Belief in the placebo effect itself—rather than a particular drug—might be enough to encourage our bodies to heal.


In a recent study, Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard Medical School in Boston and his colleagues gave people with irritable bowel syndrome an inert pill.


They told them that the pills were “made of an inert substance, like sugar pills, that have been shown in clinical studies to produce significant improvement in IBS symptoms through mind-body self-healing processes,” which is perfectly true. Despite knowing the pills were inert, on average the volunteers rated their symptoms as moderately improved after taking them, whereas those given no pills said there was only a slight change.


“Everybody thought it wouldn’t happen,” says the study’s co-author Irving Kirsch, a psychologist at the University of Hull. He thinks that the key was giving patients something to believe in. “We didn’t just say ‘here’s a sugar pill.’ We explained to the patients why it should work, in a way that was convincing to them.”


As well as having implications for the medical profession, the study raises the possibility that we could all use the placebo effect to convince ourselves that sucking on a sweet or downing a glass of water, for example, will banish a headache, clear up a skin condition or boost the effectiveness of any drugs that we take. “Our study suggests that might indeed help,” says Kirsch. While Moerman talks to his pills, Kirsch recommends visualizing the desired improvement and telling yourself that something is going to get better.

2. Think positive

“Everything’s going to be fine.” Go on, try to convince yourself, because realism can be bad for your health. Optimists recover better from medical procedures such as coronary bypass surgery, have healthier immune systems and live longer, both in general and when suffering from conditions such as cancer, heart disease and kidney failure.

It is well accepted that negative thoughts and anxiety can make us ill.


Stress—the belief that we are at risk—triggers physiological pathways such as the “fight-or-flight” response, mediated by the sympathetic nervous system. These have evolved to protect us from danger, but if switched on long-term they increase the risk of conditions such as diabetes and dementia.


What researchers are now realizing is that positive beliefs don’t just work by quelling stress. They have a positive effect too—feeling safe and secure, or believing things will turn out fine, seems to help the body maintain and repair itself. A recent analysis of various studies concluded that the health benefits of such positive thinking happen independently of the harm caused by negative states such as pessimism or stress, and are roughly comparable in magnitude.


Optimism seems to reduce stress-induced inflammation and levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. It may also reduce susceptibility to disease by dampening sympathetic nervous system activity and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter governs what’s called the “rest-and-digest” response—the opposite of fight-or-flight.


Just as helpful as taking a rosy view of the future is having a rosy view of yourself. High “self-enhancers”—people who see themselves in a more positive light than others see them—have lower cardiovascular responses to stress and recover faster, as well as lower baseline cortisol levels.


Some people are just born optimists. But whatever your natural disposition, you can train yourself to think more positively, and it seems that the more stressed or pessimistic you are to begin with, the better it will work.


David Creswell from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and his colleagues asked students facing exams to write short essays on times when they had displayed qualities that were important to them, such as creativity or independence. The aim was to boost their sense of self-worth. Compared with a control group, students who “self-affirmed” in this way had lower levels of adrenaline and other fight-or-flight hormones in their urine at the time of their exam. The effect was greatest in those who started off most worried about their exam results.

3. Trust people

Your attitude toward other people can have a big effect on your health. Being lonely increases the risk of everything from heart attacks to dementia, depression and death, whereas people who are satisfied with their social lives sleep better, age more slowly and respond better to vaccines. The effect is so strong that curing loneliness is as good for your health as giving up smoking, according to John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, Illinois, who has spent his career studying the effects of social isolation.


“It’s probably the single most powerful behavioral finding in the world,” agrees Charles Raison of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who studies mind–body interactions. “People who have rich social lives and warm, open relationships don’t get sick and they live longer.” This is partly because people who are lonely often don’t look after themselves well, but Cacioppo says there are direct physiological mechanisms too—related to, but not identical to, the effects of stress.


In 2011, Cacioppo reported that in lonely people, genes involved in cortisol signaling and the inflammatory response were up-regulated, and that immune cells important in fighting bacteria were more active, too.


He suggests that our bodies may have evolved so that in situations of perceived social isolation, they trigger branches of the immune system involved in wound healing and bacterial infection. An isolated person would be at greater risk of physical trauma, whereas being in a group might favor the immune responses necessary for fighting viruses, which spread easily between people in close contact.


Crucially, these differences relate most strongly to how lonely people think they are, rather than to the actual size of their social network. That also makes sense from an evolutionary point of view, says Cacioppo, because being among hostile strangers can be just as dangerous as being alone. So ending loneliness is not about spending more time with people. Cacioppo thinks it is all about our attitude to others: lonely people become overly sensitive to social threats and come to see others as potentially dangerous. In a review of previous studies, published in 2010, he found that tackling this attitude reduced loneliness more effectively than giving people more opportunities for interaction, or teaching social skills.


If you feel satisfied with your social life, whether you have one or two close friends or quite a few, there is nothing to worry about. “But if you’re sitting there feeling threatened by others and as if you’re alone in the world, that’s probably a reason to take steps,” Cacioppo says.

4. Meditate

Monks have been meditating on mountaintops for millennia, hoping to gain spiritual enlightenment. Their efforts have probably enhanced their physical health, too.


Trials looking at the effects of meditation have mostly been small, but they have suggested a range of benefits. There is some evidence that meditation boosts the immune response in vaccine recipients and people with cancer, protects against a relapse in major depression, soothes skin conditions and even slows the progression of HIV.


Meditation might even slow the aging process. Telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, get shorter every time a cell divides and so play a role in aging. Clifford Saron of the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, and colleagues showed in 2011 that levels of an enzyme that builds up telomeres were higher in people who attended a threemonth meditation retreat than in a control group.


As with social interaction, meditation probably works largely by influencing stress response pathways. People who meditate have lower cortisol levels, and one study showed they have changes in their amygdala, a brain area involved in fear and the response to threat.


One of the co-authors of Saron’s study, Elissa Epel, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, believes that meditation may also boost “pathways of restoration and health enhancement,” perhaps by triggering a release of growth and sex hormones.


If you don’t have time for a three-month retreat, don’t worry. Imaging studies show that meditation can cause structural changes in the brain after as little as 11 hours of training. Epel suggests fitting in short “mini-meditations” throughout the day, taking a few minutes at your desk to focus on your breathing, for example: “Little moments here and there all matter.”


5. Hypnotize yourself


Hypnotherapy has struggled for scientific acceptance ever since Franz Mesmer claimed in the 18th century that he could cure all manner of ills with what he termed “animal magnetism.” “The whole field is plagued by people who don’t feel research is necessary,” says Peter Whorwell of the University of Manchester.


Whorwell has spent much of his professional life building a body of evidence for the use of hypnosis to treat just one condition: irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is considered a “functional” disorder—a rather derogatory term used when a patient suffers symptoms but doctors can’t see anything wrong. Whorwell felt that his patients, some of whom had such severe symptoms they were suicidal, were being let down by the medical profession. “I got into hypnosis because the conventional treatment of these conditions is abysmal.”


Whorwell gives patients a brief tutorial on how the gut functions, then gets them to use visual or tactile sensations—the feeling of warmth, for example—to imagine their bowel working normally. It seems to work—IBS is the only condition for which hypnosis is recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Despite this, Whorwell still has trouble convincing doctors to prescribe it. “We’ve produced a lot of incontrovertible research,” he says. “Yet people are still loath to agree to it.”


Part of the problem is that it isn’t clear exactly how hypnosis works. What is clear is that when hypnotized, people can influence parts of their body in novel ways. Whorwell has shown that under hypnosis, some IBS patients can reduce the contractions of their bowel, something not normally under conscious control. Their bowel lining also becomes less sensitive to pain.


Hypnosis probably taps into physiological pathways similar to those involved in the placebo effect, says Kirsch. For one thing, the medical conditions that the two can improve are similar, and both are underpinned by suggestion and expectation—in other words, believing in a particular outcome. The downside is that some people do not respond as strongly to hypnosis as others.


Most clinical trials involving hypnosis are small, largely because of a lack of funding, but they suggest that hypnosis may help pain management, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, obesity, asthma and skin conditions such as psoriasis and warts. Finding a good hypnotherapist can be tricky, as the profession is not regulated, but hypnotizing yourself seems to work just as well. “Self-hypnosis is the most important part,” says Whorwell.


6. Know your purpose


In a study of 50 people with advanced lung cancer, those judged by their doctors to have high “spiritual faith” responded better to chemotherapy and survived longer. More than 40 percent were still alive after three years, compared with less than 10 percent of those judged to have little faith. Are your hackles rising? You’re not alone. Of all the research into the healing potential of thoughts and beliefs, studies into the effects of religion are the most controversial.


There are thousands of studies purporting to show a link between some aspect of religion—such as attending church or praying—and better health. Religion has been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke, blood pressure and metabolic disorders, better immune functioning, improved outcomes for infections such as HIV and meningitis, and lower risk of developing cancer.


Critics of these studies, such as Richard Sloan of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, point out that many of them don’t adequately tease out other factors. For instance, religious people often have lower-risk lifestyles and churchgoers tend to enjoy strong social support, and seriously ill people are less likely to attend church.


Nonetheless, a 2009 analysis of studies in the area concluded, after trying to control for these factors, that “religiosity/spirituality” does have a protective effect, though only in healthy people. The authors warned that there might be a publication bias, though, with researchers failing to publish negative results.


Even if the link between religion and better health is genuine, there is no need to invoke divine intervention to explain it. Some researchers attribute it to the placebo effect—trusting that some deity or other will heal you may be just as effective as belief in a drug or doctor. Others, like Paolo Lissoni of San Gerardo Hospital in Milan, who did the lung-cancer study mentioned above, believe that positive emotions associated with “spirituality” promote beneficial physiological responses.


Yet others think that what really matters is having a sense of purpose in life, whatever it might be. Having an idea of why you are here and what is important increases our sense of control over events, rendering them less stressful. In Saron’s three-month meditation study, the increase in levels of the enzyme that repairs telomeres correlated with an increased sense of control and an increased sense of purpose in life. In fact, Saron argues, this psychological shift may have been more important than the meditation itself.


He points out that the participants were already keen meditators, so the study gave them the chance to spend three months doing something important to them. Spending more time doing what you love, whether it’s gardening or voluntary work, might have a similar effect on health. The big news from the study, Saron says, is “the profound impact of having the opportunity to live your life in a way that you find meaningful.”


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The Biology of Love

The Biology of Love | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

What do your cells have to do with love?  Molecular biology and romance seem unlikely bedfellows, but according to Dr. Bruce Lipton a stem cell biologist, bestselling author of The Biology of Belief and recipient of the 2009 Goi Peace Award, it’s quite an affair.


Almost everyone can remember a time when they were “head-over-heels in love.” During this juicy time of life, points out Lipton, our perception of the world expands and our eyes twinkle with delight. Our affection isn’t limited to our selected partner; rather we are in love with life itself and it shows.


We take risks to experiment with new foods, activities and clothes. We

listen more, share more and take more time for pleasure. Lipton chuckles

how what seems hostile the day before becomes heaven on earth when we’re in love. We don’t even notice the aggressive drivers that irritated the heck out of us yesterday; today, we’re lost in daydreams and love songs.


Amazing as it may sound, each and every one of our cells behaves like a

miniature human, says Lipton. Inside you, fifty trillion minute human-

like cells work together. Cells side-by-side helping each other accomplish

pumping your heart, breathing your lungs and all the millions of tasks that need to happen. When we feel “in love,” our cells have the vibration of love too! Sounds pretty good!


It all begins with life, which is defined by movement according to Lipton.

Proteins, the primal elements of life easily wrap themselves into organic

wire sculptures and move in response to environmental signals. On the

surface of each cell, receptor proteins receive environmental signals while the effector proteins transform into vibrations and transmit them to the brain where they are interpreted. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture the difference between how these protein sculptures move when they are “head-over-heels in love” versus when they are irritated. We’ve been there!


In the eighties, when Lipton discovered that the cell membrane is its brain, his breakthrough research suggested that environmental signals whether of love or another emotion are primary in creating illness. He presaged one of today’s most important fields of study, the science of epigenetics, which explores how cellular chemical reactions switch genes on and off. Research in this area has found that stress, diet, behavior, toxins and other factors activate chemical switches that regulate gene  .


Lipton clarifies that this new area of study reveals that environmental influences are more prominent in causing illness than genes. He says new cancer research suggests that genetic factors influence the occurrence of illness a mere 10% of the time. In other words, the perception of our environment is responsible for our body’s health 90% of the time.


Even more interesting, Lipton reports current research demonstrates how our protein structures are more highly activated by non-physical signals

than chemical signals. In other words, our environmental perceptions have a more powerful influence on our health than drugs. Thus science is telling us, we have more innate capacity to heal our ills than the pharmacy.


With a tone of excitement Lipton notes, “ Wow! This means that people

are not victims of their genes as we used to think. They can change their

perceptions and thus change their health. Now that’s exciting! The old

biology used to take away choice and control the outcome. When you tell

people they are victims, their power is diminished. The work now is to help people change their perceptions so they can change their outcomes.”


How does it work you ask? The cell is a data “chip” by its definition,

shares Lipton. Our perceptual memories and beliefs are stored in the cell

membrane and constantly being transmitted to the brain for interpretation.


The mind responds to these vibrational messages by creating coherence

between belief and reality. In other words, when your cells transmit to your mind, the mind works diligently to create the same chemical reality in your body. Thus, if you believe you will get sick, your mind will coordinate your cells to make it true. And if your cells transmit signals suggesting you are vibrant and healthy, your mind again will go about making that happen.


This power of perception is demonstrated, says Lipton, in studies, which

found adopted children get cancer with the same propensity as their blood siblings both raised in the same family, yet from different genetics.


In fact, Lipton reports, “medicine has acknowledged that illness is

seeded in the first six years of life when beliefs are downloaded by the

family into the child’s subconscious.” During these years, children’s

minds are primarily in a theta brain wave pattern, which creates a


hypnagogic state of mind. This trance state explains why children easily

blur the boundary between fantasy and form. Walking around in a

trance, young children absorb their parent’s beliefs into subconscious

memory without question or discernment.


Lipton explains how these subconscious downloads work by comparing

them to an iPod. When you get a new iPod, there are no recordings,

so you can’t play anything. Once you download songs to memory, you

can play the downloaded songs. In fact, they are the only songs you

can play. There are plenty of other choices for songs, but you can’t

play them on your iPod until you download them. Similarly, whatever

has been downloaded into our subconscious memory and stored in

our cells is the only choice available to be heard and seen in the body.


Other choices are not possible until they are downloaded as beliefs and

perception into the subconscious. Thus, we automatically act out our

parents’ beliefs, unless we are exposed to other beliefs or intentionally

seed new beliefs.


Lipton points out that the biggest problem is that people don’t believe

they can change their minds and beliefs very easily. He suggests that

if we teach our children in their first 6 years that they can change their

minds and thus their bodies, an empowering shift to love and vitality

can become easy.


Not only does cellular biology have something to tell us about love

in our bodies, it also is very revealing about the nature of human

connection, says Lipton. It’s called Biomimicry and is a new discipline

in biology that uses nature’s best ideas to solve problems. Animals,

plants and microbes have found what works, and we can learn from

them. They demonstrate ways of functioning that have endured over

3.8 billion years of existence.


In Lipton’s latest book, Spontaneous Evolution, he and co-author

Bhaerman suggest cells are smarter than we are when it comes to

creating successful communities. They elucidate how cells organize

themselves to have a monetary system that pays other cells according

to the importance of the work they do and stores excess profits in

community banks. They have a research and development system

that creates technology and biochemical equivalents of expansive

computer networks. Sophisticated environmental systems provide

air and water purification treatment that is more technologically

advanced than humans have ever imagined. The same is true for

heating and cooling systems. The communication system within and

amongst cells is an Internet that sends zip-coded messages directly to

individual cells. They even have a criminal justice system that detains,

imprisons, rehabilitates, and in a Kevorkian way, assists with the suicide

of destructive cells. Unlike us, cells have organized full healthcare

coverage that makes sure each cell gets what it needs to stay healthy,

and an immune system that protects the cells and the body like a

dedicated National Guard.


Lipton makes an intriguing analogy between how 50 trillion cells in the

human body work together for the success of the individual is similar to

how 7 billion human beings could work together for the success of the

planet. He points out we haven’t been doing such nearly as good a job

as cells.


Lipton emphasizes that our individual mind like an individual cell has

far less awareness than the consciousness of the whole group. When a

cell fulfills its evolution, it assembles into colonies with other evolved

cells to share and expand the capability of consciousness. There’s

a “no cell left behind” attitude and the economic appropriation of

resources to support the whole. Lipton says we would do well as a

collective to evolve to such a high level of consciousness as our cells. He

writes, “Science suggests that the next stage of human evolution will be

marked by awareness that we are all interdependent cells within the

super-organism called humanity.”


First, however, we must work in our own back yard urges Lipton, “We

must change the evolution of our individual selves so the collective

consciousness can progress.” He urges us to get our lives back by

rewriting our perceptions so we can create that head-over-heels in love

state-of-mind again and again and again. He encourages us to download new beliefs of empowerment and love into cellular memory, so our cells have new lovely tunes to play with lyrics that affirm our lovability.


Lipton calls the quest to continuously feel “in love,” “The science

of creating heaven on earth.” And science has spoken about such things, writes Lipton. For example, HeartMath researchers have

found the impact of love itself is real and biochemically measurable,

“When subjects focus their attention on the heart and activate a core

heart feeling, such as love, appreciation, or caring, these emotions

immediately shift their heartbeat rhythms into a more coherent

pattern. Increasing heartbeat coherence activates a cascade of neural

and biochemical events that affect virtually every organ in the body.

Studies demonstrate that heart coherence leads to more intelligence

by reducing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system—our fight-

or-flight mechanism—while simultaneously increasing the growth-

promoting activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.” As a result,

stress hormones are reduced and the anti-aging hormone DHEA is

produced. Love actually does make us healthier, happier, and longer-



It turns out molecular biology and love actually is a match made in

heaven. Dr. Bruce Lipton challenges us to study and understand how to

experience that heaven on earth continuously, with dancing proteins on

our cells that swoon and sway with love.

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What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Compassion

What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Compassion | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Mounting evidence of the impact of contemplative practices like meditation (which we now know can, quite literally,rewire the brain) are finally bringing modern science up to speed with ancient wisdom.


Mindfulness and compassion -- the practices of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, and extending a loving awareness to others -- are part of every religion and wisdom tradition, and we're at last beginning to understand the profound impact that they have on the brain, says psychiatrist and mindfulness expert Dr. Dan Siegel.


A pioneer in the field of interpersonal neurobiology and executive director of the Mindsight Institute, Siegel discussed the neuroscience of mindfulness and compassion during a keynote address to the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science's Mind Science in Action Benefit Weekend earlier this month.


Seigel highlighted findings in the field of interpersonal neurobiology and from his own "mindsight approach" to psychiatry -- both systems revolve around the principle of "integration," which suggests that the linking of different aspects of a system, such as the brain, is at the heart of well-being, resilience, mindfulness and compassion.


"Integration is seen as the essential mechanism of health as it promotes a flexible and adaptive way of being that is filled with vitality and creativity," Siegel writes on his website. "The ultimate outcome of integration is harmony."


Through this interdisciplinary form of inquiry into the brain and mind, Siegel says, we can "build a framework thats based on science but goes beyond what science says, and looks more deeply at what it means to be human."


Compassion is a central component of what it means to be human, but we don't necessarily know how it works in the brain or why we're wired to be compassionate towards others -- and interpersonal neurobiology may be a particularly helpful framework for examining the importance of this quality in our lives and relationships.

Here's what recent findings in neuroscience and neurobiology can teach us about compassion.

We can change the brain through changing the mind.


As Siegel explained, the concept of "neural integration" refers to the interaction between various disparate parts of the brain. And through mindfulness practices like meditation, we can actually grow integrative fibers in the brain -- studies have shown that mindful awareness increases the connectivity of separate areas of the brain.


"We now know... that you can use your mind to change the function and structure of your brain," Siegel said at the Nalanda benefit. "That's a fact. So, you want to awaken the mind because it can transform the brain in very important ways and transform our relationships."


And how the mind transforms the brain is by training the regulation of our attention through mindfulness practices.

"The mind can actually get the brain to do something very specific to the brain -- integration," said Siegel. "A mindful brain is an integrated brain."

We can increase our capacity for compassion through integration.


What does an integrated brain look like? It's mindful, present and compassionate. We can increase integration in the brain through mindfulness and compassion practices, and by increasing integration, we naturally become more mindful and compassionate.


The most integrated the brain has ever been measured to be, which is measured using Gamma wave electrical signals, is found in Tibetan Buddhist monks doing compassion, or lovingkindness, meditation, Siegel explains.


University of Wisconsin professor Richard Davidson's research on Tibetan Buddhist monks has found that meditation on compassion can produce powerful changes in the brain. When the monks were asked to meditate on "unconditional loving-kindness and compassion," their brains generated powerful Gamma waves that may have indicated a compassionate state of mind, Wired reported.


The study is powerful evidence that empathy may be able to be cultivated by "exercising" the brain with lovingkindness meditation.

Being mindful can help us become more compassionate.


Research done by Siegel and others has shown that mindfulness meditation stimulates the growth of integrative fibers in the brain. But can compassion have the same effect?

"What we know for sure is that through lovingkindness meditation, woven in with mindfulness meditation, you stabilize the attention and then you open it up," said Siegel. "You can build the gateway of empathy and compassion through mindfulness meditation."


A 2013 study from Harvard and Northeastern University reinforced this finding, demonstrating that meditation can improve compassion and altruistic behavior. The researchers found that participants who had meditated were more likely than non-meditators to lend a helping hand to an actor with crutches who was pretending to be in pain. A 2012 Emory University study suggested that compassion training derived from ancient Tibetan mindfulness practices may boost empathy, and other research has found that loving-kindness meditation could increase positive emotions and lead to more positive relationships over time.


The bottom line? Mindfulness and loving compassion are the techniques that integrate our mental systems.


"Those are the research-proven traditions from thousands of years ago that integrate within and between -- now we know that."

Healthy relationships can boost your brain power.


One way to build integration in the brain is through healthy, caring relationships with others. These relationships can make us more mindful and more compassionate, facilitating greater integration in the brain.

Siegel explained:"Integrative communication in a relationship stimulates the growth of integrative fibers in the brain. You're going to say, That's too weird -- how would a relationship shape the brain and why would it be that simple? Well, what they share in common is energy and information flow. So a relationship can be defined as the sharing of energy and information flow. And when we understand how that energy and information flow is happening -- it could be with words, with the body, with an attitude -- we can feel it, and we feel it with each other. It's not some weird unknown thing. It's fantastic and it's real. Energy is absolutely a part of this world, and energy can be shared between us." 


But unhealthy relationships can have just the opposite effect on the brain, Siegel noted. Abuse and neglect impair the integrative regions of the brain -- as a treatment for individuals recovering from abusive relationships, adding mindfulness to a psychotherapy practice could be beneficial.

Compassion is integration of the mind made visible.


When the brain is operating in a state of harmony and integration, that harmony is reflected externally in the way we engage with the world. It manifests, according to Siegel, as compassion towards ourselves, others, and our world.


"Integration, when it is made visible, is kindness and compassion," said Siegel. "That's really the fundamental teaching of all the world's major religions, the wisdom traditions of this world.. Integration is well-being. Integration is the kindness that the planet deserves."

Jose Mejia R's curator insight, June 9, 6:50 AM

Brain can operate in a peaceful stage when heart is also calm and when desires are under control.

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Laugh Often to Live Well | Brain Blogger

Laugh Often to Live Well | Brain Blogger | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Jim Manske's insight:
Glad to be heading home after a successful hernia repair. We get back to Maui tomorrow.
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Gandhi statue set for Westminster

Gandhi statue set for Westminster | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

A statue of the Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi is to be erected opposite the Houses of Parliament.


The memorial will stand in Parliament Square alongside those of Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela.


Speaking on a trip to the Gandhi memorial in Delhi, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the statue would be a "fitting tribute" to a "great man".


Gandhi studied in London for many years before leading non-violent resistance to British rule in India.


He was assassinated in January 1948, months after India secured independence.


The sculptor Philip Jackson, whose works include statues of the Queen Mother and RAF Bomber Command, has been approached to take on the project - which will be paid for by charitable donations and sponsors.

'Source of strength'

It is intended that the statue will be completed early next year and become a focal point for future commemorations, including the 70-year anniversary of Gandhi's death in 2018.


Mr Hague said Gandhi remained a "towering inspiration and source of strength".


"Gandhi's view of communal peace and resistance to division, his desire to drive India forward and his commitment to non-violence left a legacy that is as relevant today as it was during his life," he said.


An advisory panel is to be set up to spearhead the project. Its members will include prominent members of the Indian community in London, such as Lord Bilimoria, as well as National Portrait Gallery director Sandy Nairne.


Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, who will chair the panel and whose parents were born in India, said the statue would celebrate Gandhi's "reverence and greatness".


"No matter what your background, history, or religion, this statue will allow people from around the world to look upon him and appreciate his endeavour and successes for humanity."


The statue will be the 11th to be erected in Parliament Square. Others public figures memorialised include former Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli and Robert Peel.

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7 weird things money does to your brain

7 weird things money does to your brain | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Money is packed with meaning, and it impacts our personalities, our relationships, and how we think.  As you might imagine, a lot of stuff is going on in our brains when we think about money, and some of it is surprising. Researchers in the emerging field of neuroeconomics are drawing on psychology, neuroscience, and economics to give us picture of the human brain on money. Let’s take a look.


1. Money kills empathy.


According to research, money actually reduces empathy and compassion. One of the key ways humans feel empathy is through reading the facial expressions of other humans. Seeing that someone has a sad face triggers you to feel sad, too. But if you’re rich, not so much. Michael Kraus, the co-author of a study discussed in Time, told the magazine that people with fewer economic resources are conditioned to respond to numerous vulnerabilities and threats, which means they have to be more attuned to social cues. “You really need to depend on others so they will tell you if a social threat or opportunity is coming and that makes you more perceptive of emotions.” Rich people can just sail along without worrying about so many threats, so they tend to ignore how others feel.


Money also makes people behave more aggressively towards others. Even fake money can do it: in a UC Berkeley study, researchers watched two students playing Monopoly, one with much more Monopoly money than the other. At first, the inequality seemed to make the richer student uncomfortable, but soon enough the student with more money got aggressive, smacking his pieces around and taunting the impoverished player. Paul Piff and his fellow psychologists have consistently found that high socio­economic status and interpersonal disregard are closely linked. So much for noblesse oblige.


2. Losing money hurts, literally.


The loss of money is known to share a similar psychological and physiological system with physical pain. Researchers have found that money is actually a pain buffer. In one experiment, participants were asked to rate their response to hot water after counting money. The more money counted, the less pain felt. On the other hand, people who had recently lost money rated the hot water as more painful.  Research also reveals that the anticipation of pain heightens the desire for money.

People also hate losing money more than they love making it.
Psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman has suggested this aversion to loss may have evolutionary roots. For the primitive human, threats or losses were a higher priority than opportunities, because an opportunity might come again, but a threat could be your last.


3. More money, fewer ethics.


Just thinking about money can cause you to behave unethically. Researchers from Harvard and the University of Utah found that people were more likely to lie and make immoral decisions after being exposed to money-related words. The mere exposure to the concept of money set off a “business decision frame” in study participants, causing them to think narrowly in terms of cost-benefit calculations and further their own interests without giving a damn about moral niceities.


Money makes you dangerous, too. Researchers at Berkeley observed crosswalks in San Francisco and found that people driving luxury cars were three times less likely than those in more modest vehicles to give the right away to pedestrians, and they were four times more likely to cut off other drivers.


4. The more money you make, the more you think about money.


Conventional wisdom holds that the more of something we have, the less important it’s supposed to be to us, but that’s not true with money. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, found in his research that the more money people are paid for each hour of work, the more important that money becomes. And because money paid for work becomes strongly connected to people’s feelings of self-esteem and self worth, it can never be enough. The more we get, the more we need, and the more we focus on it.


This paradoxical experience was summed up by Daniel Vasella, the former CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical behemoth Novartis AG: “The strange part is, the more I made, the more I got preoccupied with money,” he told Fortune. “When suddenly I didn’t have to think about money as much, I found myself starting to think increasingly about it.”


Pfeffer is pretty straightforward on what he thinks we could do about skyrocketing executive compensation and its destructive social and psychological effects: “We would do what we have done with other addictive substances — tax it. That’s what public policy has done in the past to restrict the use of legal drugs like alcohol and nicotine — we tax them.” Good idea!


5. Men with a lot of testosterone do weird things with money.


Neoclassical economists have often argued that people will naturally seek financial gain, no matter how small, and will do so in a rational manner.  But psychologists have found otherwise.


The Economistmagazine describes an ultimatum game in which one player divides a pot of money between himself and another. The second player then chooses whether to accept the offer. If he rejects it, neither player benefits. Curiously, a low offer is usually rejected, despite the fact that rejecting the offer means that the players will get zilch.


Terence Burnham of Harvard University observed male players and compared their testosterone levels using saliva samples. Turns out that the ones who refused a stingy final offer had an average testosterone level more than 50 percent higher than the average of those who took it. The reason appears to be that the high testosterone people would rather accept less themselves than see a rival get ahead. They seem to be programmed to seek social dominance, and they will behave irrationally trying to get it.


6. Your brain treats credit differently from cash.


Marketers know that we spend more with credit cards than we do with cash — 12 to 18 percent more, according to a Dunn & Bradstreet study.

That’s because our brains feel like the money associated with plastic is an issue for the future rather than the present. Reward cards trick us even further, making us feel that in addition to not really spending money today, we’re getting stuff back through miles, points, and whatnot, which induces us to spend still more.


The idea of putting off consequences, which is linked to plastic cards, is so strong that it carries over into other decisions. A 2013 study in the journal Obesity found that children who pay for school lunches with credit or debit cards buy less healthy foods, like desserts over fruits, compared to those paying with cash.


7. The wealthy are perceived as evil-doers.


Americans are supposed to worship the wealthy, but according to research presented inScientifc American, most of us would be glad to see them suffer. Studies show that lower-income people dislike and distrust rich people, so much so that we get a kick out of their struggles. University of Pennsylvania research revealed that most people tend to associate perceived profits with perceived social harm — and according to research mentioned above, they are very well-justified in this perception.


When participants in the U Penn study were asked to rate various real and made-up companies and industries, both liberals and conservative participants ranked institutions thought to have higher profits with more evil and wrong-doing across the board, regardless of the company or industry’s actions in reality.

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» 5 Things You Can Do in the Next 5 Minutes to Be Happier in the Next 5 Days -Ron Zilca

» 5 Things You Can Do in the Next 5 Minutes to Be Happier in the Next 5 Days -Ron Zilca | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Happiness is a lifelong pursuit of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. But while it could take years of persistence to deeply transform your life, there are scientifically-tested strategies that are shown to provide an immediate happiness boost. Such activities provide a modest increase in happiness but it lasts for weeks and months, and when practiced consistently over time, they become happiness habits, energizing you to live your dreams and passions.


Here are 5 such strategies that you can practice right now, to get a shot of healthy psychological nutrients:

1. Get up and do some jumping jacks


Aerobic exercise boosts one’s positive mood. In 2005, Researchers at Chicago State University and the University of Minnesota analyzed 158 different studies that were conducted between 1979 and 2005 [1]. They found that the effect of aerobic exercise was consistently positive, and was especially noticeable when one started an exercise-session while being a little more down than usual. In other words, physical exercise can lift you up when you need it the most. In a more recent study, researchers in Halmstad University in Sweden analyzed 15 different studies and have shown that physical exercise is an effective treatment of mild and moderate depression [2].


Body and mind are inseparable. A couple of minutes of jumping jacks may go a very long way.


2. Call a friend or a family member


Positive social connections are a cornerstone of happiness and health [3]. A conversation with a friend can have a lasting positive effect, increasing your energy, and cultivating motivation. In fact, even simply belonging to a social group or having a minimal personal connection with another person creates lasting and significant drive [4]. If there are people around you right now whom you like and appreciate, walk up to someone and talk with them. If not, pick up the phone and say hi.


3. Write down three good things you are grateful for


Many people maintain a journal where they regularly write down the things for which they are grateful. This simple exercise of acknowledging your good fortune by identifying “three good things”, has been shown to provide both an immediate and a lasting effect on happiness [5]. In a study published in 2012, positive psychologists Stephen Schueller and Acacia Parks tested this happiness strategy in an online setting [6] and found that the benefits last as long as six months. A small kick for six months in return for five minutes of writing is a pretty good deal.

4. Imagine the best-case outcome for the coming months


Research consistently shows that imagining your “best possible self” makes you significantly more optimistic [7], resulting in a range of positive emotions. When I met with Coach Caroline Miller during Ride of Your Life and asked her about the path to inner peace, she suggested to “pretend” being an optimist when thinking about the future: “The world is a random set of events to pessimists. Optimists, on the other hand, believe they control the things around them. So, in some ways, you have to pretend you’re an optimist.”


In line with common belief, thinking positively (yet realistically) about the future is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Take a few minutes to imagine and write down the best-case scenario for the coming months and years. You may be surprised to discover how bright this possible future may be.

5. Set an intention for the day


One of the most established and validated models of psychological wellness was published by Carol Ryff from the University of Wisconsin nearly 20 years ago [8]. It includes six elements that constitute happiness, of which one’s autonomy is the most prominent one. Setting a daily intention to guide your day puts you in the driver’s seat, where you make conscious decisions rather than react to incoming demands. You may not be able to get your way all the time, but being simply aware of what you intend to accomplish will provide you with a sense of purpose, and with an opportunity to be consistent in the way you interact with the world.


If you’re here at the end of this post, give it a shot right now – what is your daily intention?

Wanda McKenzie's curator insight, July 6, 2:43 PM

Practical immediate steps

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The 8 Things The Happiest People Do Every Day~Eric Barker

The 8 Things The Happiest People Do Every Day~Eric Barker | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The 8 Things The Happiest People Do Every Day


University of California professor Sonja Lyubomirsky details the things research shows the happiest people have in common.

Via The How of Happiness:

1.They devote a great amount of time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.

2.They are comfortable expressing gratitude for all they have.

3. They are often the first to offer helping hands to coworkers and passersby.

4. They practice optimism when imagining their futures.They savor life’s pleasures and try to live in the present moment.

5. They make physical exercise a weekly and even daily habit.

6. They are deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions (e.g., fighting fraud, building cabinets, or teaching their children their deeply held values).

7. Last but not least, the happiest people do have their share of stresses, crises, and even tragedies. They may become just as distressed and emotional in such circumstances as you or I, but their secret weapon is the poise and strength they show in coping in the face of challenge.

I guess the blog post could end here. You’ve got your answer. But did you just want trivia? Or do you actually want to get happier?


The internet has become a firehose of ideas we never implement, tricks we forget to use.


Reading a list of seven things is easy. Implementing them in your life can be hard. 


But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s get down to business.


“Happiness Subscriptions”


Here’s an interesting fact about happiness: frequency beats intensity. What’s that mean?


Lots of little good things make you happier than a handful of big things.

Research shows that going to church and exercising both bring people a disproportionate amount of happiness. Why?


They give us frequent, regular boosts.


Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker says it’s really that simple: the things that make you happy, do them more often.


We have designated work hours. We schedule doctor appointments. Heck, we even schedule hair appointments.

We say happiness is the most important thing but fail to consistently include it in our calendars.


Research shows 40% of happiness is due to intentional activity. You can change your happiness by up to 40% by what you choose to do every day.


And much of what you do, you do on autopilot. 40% of what you do every day isn’t the result of decisions, it’s due to habits.

Via The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:

One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.

See where I’m going with this?


Happy things need to be a habit. Part of your routine. Part of your schedule.


Stop waiting for random happy events, you need a “happiness subscription.”


So how do we take that list and make them things we actually do every day instead of more forgotten trivia? Let’s get started.


1) Wake Up And Say ARG!

Even scientific happiness advice is often corny. I’ll say that now so we can get it off the table…. But it works.


And this is why you might want to say ARG when you wake up. It’s an acronym that stands for:






I’ve written about the importance of a morning ritual and how research shows your mood in the morning affects your entire day. So start right.


Anticipation is a powerful happiness booster. It’s 2 for the price of 1: You get the good thing and you get happy in anticipation of the good thing.

So think about what you’re looking forward to. Got nothing you’re looking forward to? Schedule something.


Recollecting great moments has a related effect. Memories allow us to relive the good times and kill stress.


Via The How of Happiness:

People prone to joyful anticipation, skilled at obtaining pleasure from looking forward and imagining future happy events, are especially likely to be optimistic and to experience intense emotions. In contrast, those proficient at reminiscing about the past—looking back on happy times, rekindling joy from happy memories—are best able to buffer stress.

And gratitude is arguably the king of happiness. What’s the research say? Can’t be more clear than this:

…the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic.

And the combo often leads to optimism. Another powerful predictor of happiness.


So, corny as it may be, wake up and say ARG! And then do a quick bit of anticipation, recollection and gratitude.


All that’s fine and dandy. But what do you do once you’re out of bed?


2) Savor Your Morning Coffee

Take a moment and really enjoy it. Smell it. Taste it. Appreciate it. Corny? Maybe.



But other research shows savoring — appreciating the good moments – is what separates the happiest people from the average Joe.


I imagine some of you are saying, “Well, I don’t drink coffee.” And please imagine me saying, “That’s not the point.”


It can be anything you do every morning.


And embedding savoring in our little daily rituals is powerful because studies show rituals matter.


Here’s Harvard professor Francesca Gino:

You can think about rituals that you yourself might engage in prior to consumption experiences. What they do, they make us a little bit more mindful about the consumption experience that we are about to have. Because of that, we end up savoring the food or whatever we are drinking more, we enjoy the experience more, and in fact, we’re also more willing to pay higher prices for whatever it is that we just consumed.

Once again,rituals are beneficial in the sense that they create higher levels of enjoyment in the experience that we just had.


So what other habit can we build into our schedule that boosts joy? How about one that can make you as happy as sex does?


3) Sweat Your Way To Joy

When you study people to see what makes them happiest you get three answers: sex, socializing and exercise.


Via Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life:

Their findings confirm what had been found previously: happiness is high during sex, exercise, or socializing, or while the mind is focused on the here and now, and low during commuting or while the mind is wandering.

People who exercise are, across the board, mentally healthier: less depression, anger, stress, and distrust.


Via Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain:

A massive Dutch study of 19,288 twins and their families published in 2006 showed that exercisers are less anxious, less depressed, less neurotic, and also more socially outgoing. A Finnish study of 3,403 people in 1999 showed that those who exercise at least two to three times a week experience significantly less depression, anger, stress, and “cynical distrust” than those who exercise less or not at all.

Don’t like exercise? Then you’re doing the wrong kind.

Running, lifting weights, playing any sport… Find something you enjoy that gets you moving.


Okay, time to head to work. What’s the best thing to do when you start the day? It’s not about you — but it will make you happier.


4) The Five Minute Favor

Who lives to a ripe old age? Not those who get the most help, ironically it’sthose who give the most help.


Via The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study:

We figured that if a Terman participant sincerely felt that he or she had friends and relatives to count on when having a hard time then that person would be healthier. Those who felt very loved and cared for, we predicted, would live the longest. Surprise: our prediction was wrong… Beyond social network size, the clearest benefit of social relationships came from helping others. Those who helped their friends and neighbors, advising and caring for others, tended to live to old age.

And a great way to do that without taking up too much time is Adam Rifkin’s “5 Minute Favor”:

Every day, do something selfless for someone else that takes under five minutes. The essence of this thing you do should be that it makes a big difference to the person receiving the gift. Usually these favors take the form of an introduction, reference, feedback, or broadcast on social media.

So take five minutes to do something that is minor for you but would provide a big benefit to someone else.


It’s good karma — and science shows that, in some ways, karma is quite real.


Yes, some who do a lot for others get taken advantage of. But as Adam Grant of Wharton has shown, givers also succeed more:

Then I looked at the other end of the spectrum and said if Givers are at the bottom, who’s at the top? Actually, I was really surprised to discover, it’s the Givers again. The people who consistently are looking for ways to help others are over-represented not only at the bottom, but also at the top of most success metrics.


Alright, you have to start work for the day. Ugh. But there are ways that work can make you happier too.


5) Life Is A Game, And So Is Work


the research shows, the happiest people have goals.


Via Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life:

In his studies, the psychologist Jonathan Freedman claimed that people with the ability to set objectives for themselves—both short-term and long-term—are happier. The University of Wisconsin neuroscientist


Richard Davidson has found that working hard toward a goal and making progress to the point of expecting a goal to be realized don’t just activate positive feelings—they also suppress negative emotions such as fear and depression.

Many of us feel like work can be boring or annoying but the research shows many of us are actually happier at work than at home. Why?

Challenges. And we reach that state of “flow” only when a challenge presents itself. So how can work make us happier?


Three research-backed things to try:

To the degree you can, do things you’re good at. We’re happier when we exercise our strengths.Make note of your progress. Nothing is more motivating that progress.Make sure to see the results of your work. This gives meaning to most any activity.


Enough work. You’ve got some free time. But what’s the happiest way to use your free time?


6) Friends Get Appointments Too

You have mandatory meetings in your schedule but not mandatory time with friends? Absurd.


One study says that as much as 70% of happiness comes from your relationships with other people.


Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People:


Contrary to the belief that happiness is hard to explain, or that it depends on having great wealth, researchers have identified the core factors in a happy life. The primary components are number of friends, closeness of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbors. Together these features explain about 70 percent of personal happiness. – Murray and Peacock 1996

Why does church make people so happy? Studies show it has nothing to do with religion — it’s about the socializing. It’s scheduled friend time.

Via The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More:

After examining studies of more than three thousand adults, Chaeyoon Lin and Robert Putnam found that what religion you practice or however close you feel to God makes no difference in your overall life satisfaction. What matters is the number of friends you have in your religious community. Ten is the magic number; if you have that many, you’ll be happier. Religious people, in other words, are happier because they feel connected to a community of like-minded people.

And if you have the cash, pay for dinner with a friend. Money definitely can make you happier – when you spend it on other people.


Via Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending:


By the end of the day, individuals who spent money on others were measurably happier than those who spent money on themselves — even though there were no differences between the groups at the beginning of the day. And it turns out that the amount of money people found in their envelopes — $5 or $20 — had no effect on their happiness at the end of the day. How people spent the money mattered much more than how much of it they got.

Harvard professor and author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, Michael Norton explains in his TED talk:


Don’t have the cash for that? No problem. Take turns paying. Duke professor Dan Ariely says this bring more happiness than always paying half.


What’s the final thing happy people have in common? They cope with adversity. So what should we do when life gets tough?


7) Find Meaning In Hard Times

Research shows that a happy life and a meaningful life are not necessarily the same thing.


It’s hard to be happy when tragedy strikes. But who lives longer and fares better after problems? Those who find benefit in their struggles.


Via The How of Happiness:


For example, in one study researchers interviewed men who had had heart attacks between the ages of thirty and sixty. Those who perceived benefits in the event seven weeks after it happened—for example, believing that they had grown and matured as a result, or revalued home life, or resolved to create less hectic schedules for themselves—were less likely to have recurrences and more likely to be healthy eight years later. In contrast, those who blamed their heart attacks on other people or on their own emotions (e.g., having been too stressed) were now in poorer health.

In many cases, Nietzsche was right: what does not kill us can make us stronger.


A substantial number of people also show intense depression and anxiety after extreme adversity, often to the level of PTSD, but then they grow. In the long run, they arrive at a higher level of psychological functioning than before… In a month, 1,700 people reported at least one of these awful events, and they took our well-being tests as well. To our surprise, individuals who’d experienced one awful event had more intense strengths (and therefore higher well-being) than individuals who had none. Individuals who’d been through two awful events were stronger than individuals who had one, and individuals who had three— raped, tortured, and held captive for example— were stronger than those who had two.

So when you face adversity, always ask what you can learn from it.

(For more on how to make your life more meaningful — without terrible tragedy —  click here.)


See that? I took the eight things happy people do and squeezed them into just seven habits. You can thank me later.


Now how do we tie all of these happiness boosters together?




If you want every day to be happier try including these seven things in your schedule:


Wake Up And Say ARG!

Savor Your Morning Coffee

Sweat Your Way To Joy

Do A Five Minute Favor

Make Work A Game

Friends Get Appointments Too

Find Meaning In Hard Times


We’re all quick to say happiness is the most important thing… and then we schedule everything but the things that make us happiest. Huh?

So what’s going to make you happy today? Have you thought about it? Is it on your calendar?


Reading happiness information is useless trivia unless you use it and you won’t use it unless it’s part of your routine.


If happiness is the most important thing then make it the most important thing.

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How To Save The World With Empathy

How To Save The World With Empathy | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The idea of empathy has sparked a lot of interest in recent years, especially with the discovery that humans are neurologically wired to feel it. It is one thing to be aware of the concept of empathy and quite another to understand the importance of it in bringing about positive changes – not just on an individual level. Empathy isn’t just about “being nice”; it has the potential to change human interaction on a mass, collective scale.


1. Resolving The Big Conflicts


Think about the major social conflicts around the world – debates over LGBT rights, religious intolerance, feminism – how many of those could be alleviated if there was more of an effort to understand the motivations and values of the opposing side? Empathy may not provide a clear-cut solution, but listening to others in order to consider the circumstances from their point of view could help individuals realise that other people’s beliefs are as important as their own, thus promoting respect, fairness and a greater capacity for peaceful coexistence.


In this respect, there have been some fantastic efforts at empathising. For example, despite being brought up in a conservative, Christian environment, Timothy Kurekwent out of his way to empathise with the gay community by pretending to be gay for a year; in an interview, he revealed: “I was taught that gays and lesbians were sinners, that homosexuality was abominable and that gay people couldn’t be Christians…I tried to convert any gay people I met. In fact, I had a childhood friend who came out of the closet and his mother phoned me, asking me to save him by preaching at him. He ended up becoming one of my best friends…The fact is, in my previous state, there was no way I was going to listen to gay people.”

There are also efforts to resolve religious conflicts, such as Hello Peace, a telephone service that gives Arabs and Jews an opportunity to talk to those “on the other side” about reconciliation, tolerance and peace. In terms of women’s rights, take a look at this short film that depicts a sexist society in which men are the discriminated gender. Empathy has even contributed to the abolition of slavery in the UK during the late 1780s.


2. Patients Are People, Not Just Broken Bodies


Empathy in healthcare providers is particularly important to promote patient recovery. Many studies have shown that empathetic doctors are associated with more positive outcomes for their patients. This touching video on empathy, shared by CEO Toby Cosgrove, MD with the Cleveland Clinic staff, highlights the idea that patient care cannot be reduced to the simple healing of tissue damage, but must take into consideration other aspects of the patient’s life.


3. What About The Environment?


Empathy in terms of environmental issues does not mean you need to empathise with a tree! Rather, it involves empathising with the people of the future. It may be difficult to imagine the situation for those who have yet to exist, and it is reason that tells us that the welfare of future generations must be taken into account to ensure the survival of our species. BUT, it may be that putting ourselves in the shoes of the future generation can effectively inspire us to clean up our act and to make use of sustainable energy sources.


Okay, So Empathy IS Important…But What Happens Next?


A lot has been said on why empathy matters, but less on how to go about increasing empathy levels in society. Roman Krznaric advocates the idea of an Empathy Revolution, which is a revolution not in the traditional sense of overthrowing laws and governments, but a revolution in human interaction. The ingredients for such a revolution include training our youth on being empathetic, meeting different people to challenge our prejudices and stereotypes, harnessing the power of social networking and so on.


There is also the issue of why some people respond to certain tragedies but not to others – long term and large scale issues such as starvation, lack of education and income inequality seem to be ignored in comparison to the murders and scandals that make it to newspaper headlines. A way to combat the lack of empathy may be to provide for the target audience an identifiable victim. As the economist Thomas Schelling noted: “Let a six-year-old girl with brown hair need thousands of dollars for an operation that will prolong her life until Christmas, and the post office will be swamped with nickels and dimes to save her. But let it be reported that without a sales tax the hospital facilities of Massachusetts will deteriorate and cause a barely perceptible increase in preventable deaths—not many will drop a tear or reach for their check-books.”

Still, It’s Impossible To Empathise With 7 Billion Strangers!!


While extending our sense of compassion from the close circle of our friends and family to the rest of humanity is certainly an achievement, it is inevitably impossible to empathise with strangers to the same extent as those who you regularly interact with. The point is to cultivate the notion that even if we cannot completely empathise with people on the other side of the world, their lives are just as valuable as the lives of our loved ones. Rationality isn’t enough – after all, psychopaths can recognise what decisions society would deem as “morally correct”; they simply have no incentive to choose that option. Ultimately it is empathy which ignites a sense of concern for others other than ourselves that is crucial to bringing about action that will lead to humanity’s progress, for the better.

Gudrun Frerichs's curator insight, June 20, 1:29 AM

Ultimately it is empathy with others than ourselves that is bringing about action that will lead to humanity's progress ... what an important thought to hold dear.

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All Our Patent Belong To You Motors~Elon Musk

All Our Patent Belong To You Motors~Elon Musk | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
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An invitation to stop: Kai Sawyer at TEDxTodai - YouTube

Kai is a student in the Graduate Program in Sustainability Sciences and Global Leadership Initiative. He was born in Tokyo, and raised in Niigata, Hawaii, an...
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The Real Reason We Judge Other People~Brene Brown

The Real Reason We Judge Other People~Brene Brown | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

First, the bad news: If you have a fondness for snarky jabs -- and believe me, most of us take pleasure in the occasional barb -- this column might ruin your fun. The good news is that understanding how and why we judge others, and trading that judgment for a little empathy and self-compassion, can bring more joy to our lives, families and relationships.


Most of us don't realize how often we judge: We gossip about our boss's new boyfriend, we look down on our neighbors' parenting -- the list goes on. One way to become more aware of how we judge is to understand why: We're often motivated by a need to compare ourselves favorably with the people around us. We tend to judge others in areas where we feel most vulnerable or not good enough. If I'm constantly worried about being a great mother, I might be quicker to look down on another mom who misses the school play. When a colleague recently rescheduled a meeting for the second time, I found myself rolling my eyes; I had no compassion to extend, because I was still beating myself up for flaking on a work event the week before. In these moments, we take unconscious refuge in the thought, "At least I'm better than someone."


You might be wondering whether a little judginess is always a bad thing. After all, sometimes it's really satisfying to point out that others are screwing up! But judgment kills empathy. And empathy is what fuels trust and intimacy. How can we walk in others' shoes when we're busy judging those shoes?


It starts with showing compassion for ourselves. Only when we feel comfortable with our own choices -- and embrace our own imperfections -- will we stop feeling the driving need to criticize others.


The Dare


Be mindful. Be awake to what you're thinking, feeling, and saying -- and why. It might seem awkward at first, but the next time you feel judgmental, stop and ask yourself, "What's really going on here?"


Change your inner monologue. When I canceled that work event, I told myself, "You're a slacker. You're not dependable." Had I said, "Life happens, Brené," I might have been more empathic when my colleague moved our meeting.


Make a pact with a friend or a family member. Declare a judgment-free week -- or, if you're feeling brave, month. There will be long periods of silence; it's a shocker when you realize how much "connecting" we do by talking about others. But asking someone you trust to join you will help keep you accountable -- and help you change the subject.

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How Gratitude Can Calm Your Nerves and Make You More Effective: Daniel Miller

How Gratitude Can Calm Your Nerves and Make You More Effective: Daniel Miller | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~Cicero


Being grateful or practicing gratitude has many benefits, including improving our health, relationships, careers, sleep, and self-esteem, to name just a few.



In recent years, these benefits have been confirmed in scientific studies showing how the brain is “rewired” by continuous grateful thoughts.


However, I recently discovered (and experienced) another significant, and I believe mainly overlooked, benefit of being grateful—in the somewhat unusual setting of a major seniors championship tennis tournament I played in Palm Springs this past January. I learned that:


Practicing Gratitude Calms the Nerves and Mind


As an avid tennis player, I had struggled to play up to my ability in tournament match play. I was constantly over-thinking, too cautious, and too tight during matches.


Before playing in the tournament I read about a mental strategy recommended by sports psychologist Jeff Greenwald in his insightful book The Best Tennis of Your Life:


Play with gratitude.


Feeling there was nothing to lose, I decided to give it a try. Before my first match, I thought to myself how grateful I was that:

-I was able to play without injuries.

-I could play in such a magnificent setting at the historical Palm Springs Tennis Club. 

-I could afford to take time off from work and treat myself to so much fun.

-I repeated these blessings throughout the match, was calm and focused, and won.


My next match was against a player that had soundly defeated me the year before. I repeated the above blessings and added one more:

-I am grateful to have the opportunity to play the same person again to see if my game has improved.

-I played the best tennis of my life and won in two sets—and again was calm and focused throughout.


Hmm, I’m now thinking there must be something to this “being grateful reduces-the nerves-and-calms-the-mind” thing. Next match: I played another (and seeded) player who also had soundly beat me the year before.


I again won in two sets.


I’m now in the semi-finals against the #1 seeded player, a former national champion. I’m not only grateful for this, but I have been playing at a whole new level and having the tennis time of my life.


I lost in two hard fought sets, but not because I was nervous or uptight. To the contrary, I played extremely well. I lost because I played a more highly skilled and experienced player who, incidentally, shared with me after the match that he was grateful that he could still play so well in his seventies! (I think he was more grateful than me!)


Upon reflection, it occurred to me that what applies to sports and performance, probably applies equally to most life arenas. Which is to



There is a powerful synergy between being grateful and calmness and serenity.


I soon had the opportunity to prove this to myself again, but in an entirely different setting—a courtroom. In April, I was in traffic court for a trial to fight a ticket that I felt I had wrongly received.


While waiting in court, I was nervous as heck as I repeatedly went over in my mind what I would say, what the officer would likely say, and how the judge might rule.


Then an amazing thing happened. I reminded myself to be grateful—yes grateful. Specifically, I was grateful that I had the opportunity to be heard and present my case—something I was clearly unable to do at the time the officer issued the citation.


I was also grateful that I lived in a country where I could seek justice without a lot of constraints. With those thoughts, my nerves immediately subsided and I became very calm and grounded.


A short while later, my ticket was dismissed!


The Non-Science of Why Gratitude Leads to Greater Calmness and Serenity


I have no doubt that being grateful stimulates the brain’s neurons and in effect re-wires the brain to produce a more happier state of being. I believe, however, there are more basic reasons why gratitude bestows upon us a more calm and serene state of mind. For example, being grateful:

-Redirects our focus from what is troubling or worrying us to what lifts our spirit.

-We shift from negative to positive thinking—and energy.

-Provides us with a true perspective of what’s at stake (including “how important is it?”).

-Reduces our anxiety creating fears.

-Allows us to let go of the need to control, thereby creating space for greater calmness and serenity.


Test the Gratitude/Calmness Dynamic


I encourage you to see if the gratitude/calmness dynamic works for you as it does for me. For example, consider trying it when:

-You have to give an important talk or presentationYou have a job interview

-You have to take an important testYou have to perform or go on stage

-You have writer’s blockYou keep procrastinating in completing an important task


Bottom line, there is no shortage of opportunities where you can test this powerful dynamic!


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Do We Choose Happiness or Does Happiness Choose Us?

Do We Choose Happiness or Does Happiness Choose Us? | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

In a recent guest blog on The Careerist, Bowling says that it all comes down the choices they make in their lives. He writes, "I donʼt mean choices that we think will make us happy, but courses of action that in the aggregate add up to a life well-lived." However, that philosophy doesn't only apply to happy lawyers. It applies to happy people in general.


But is it really that simple? If it was, why would anyone choose to be depressed? Experts concede that for those who are predisposed to depression or who have a glass-half-empty perspective, it's not a matter of waking up one morning, deciding to be happy, and voilà. However, sadness doesn't have to be a life sentence either. 

According to the late University of Minnesota professor emeritus David Lykken, although happiness may be genetically influenced, it is not genetically fixed. Sure, if your subjective well-being scale tends to be weighted more on the sad than the happy side, finding happiness may present more of a challenge for you than others. However, you're not condemned to a life of sadness. Lykken (and many others) believe that everyone has the ability to train their brains to live a happier life. It takes work and practice, of course, but researchers have discovered that if you "practice" happiness, you'll feel happier.


So how do we teach ourselves to be happy? The key is utilizing two basic strategies on a daily basis: 1) consciously engaging in activities and thinking that boost our mood, and 2) disengaging with or avoiding activities and mind-sets that bring us down. 


How do we put that plan into action? Naturally, some of it has to do with personal preferences. For example, some people are happy when they're fishing while others find it to be mind-numbing torture. So of course the choices of activities should be personally determined based on what floats your boat. What makes you smile? What makes you feel good? Those are the things you want to add to your life or increase in your life. However, there also are some general strategies and activities that are mood-boosting for most people. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Take a big picture perspective. Bowling suggests that you don't let the small stuff bring you down, or as a friend of mine likes to think of it, "If it's not going to matter to you in a year, don't let it bother you." In other words, you shouldn't allow short-term or small set-backs to govern your mood. Instead, focus on long-term accomplishments and successes. 

2. Nurture important and positive relationships. There are some people who make us smile the moment we see them. There are some who make us feel good just by talking to them. These are the people you want to spend as much time with as possible. Research has consistently found that positive relationships improve overall happiness and well-being.

3. Avoid interactions with those who steal your energy, leaving you feeling drained, exhausted, and unhappy. For helpful tips on dealing with these energy vampires, see How to Deal with People Who Drain You.


4. Laugh. A lot. According to clinical neurologist and comedian Dr. Matt Bellace, laughter is one of the purest forms of a natural high. Laughter, he says, releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which serves as a reward for the brain, creates a sense of euphoria, and plays a pivotal role in ourmotivation to continue the behavior. In addition, laughter has many long-term benefits, including improved immune functioning, stress relief, increased tolerance for pain, improved cardiovascular health, reduced anxiety, and improved mood. For more about the benefits of laughter, see The Natural High of Laughter.


5. Learn Optimism. Bowling notes that a tendency toward optimism is atrait most happy people share. According to psychologist Martin Seligman, dubbed "the father of positive psychology," optimists tend to do better in school, work and extracurricular activities; perform better than predicted on aptitude tests; have better overall health; and may even live longer. That, says Seligman, is the incredible power of positive thinking. Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to give up more easily, feel depressed more often, and have poorer health than optimists. For more information on the benefits of positive thinking, see The Mind and Body Benefits of Optimism.

6. Avoid overscheduling and multi-tasking. Yes, these things are a reality of the over-connected world that we live in, but too much overload is stressful and depressing. E-connect when you need to e-connect, but also make sure you take some time to smell the roses. Get some fresh air. Disconnect from your gadgets for a while and you'll be amazed at the amount of time you'll have to enjoy the simple, non-electronic beauties in life.

7. Don't immediately jump to the negative. In many cases, it's not events themselves but rather what you believe about events that happen in your life that determines how you react to them. So when you encounter a negative belief (i.e., I never get what I want), take a closer look at it. Have you really never gotten what you wanted? By looking at the factual basis for your beliefs, you can train yourself to turn negative thoughts into more realistic and positive ones.

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Can Your Mind Actually Reverse Your Age? - Amen Clinics

If we pretend we are younger, will we actually become younger?

Surprisingly, the answer is “Yes”!


When we act younger than we are, we can actually start to feel and look younger too—and there are scientific experiments that prove it!


Belief can be so strong that pharmaceutical companies use double- and triple-blind randomized studies in effort to rule out the power of the mind over the body when evaluating new drugs.


Best-selling author and my good friend, Dr. Joe Dispenza, just released his latest book, You Are the Placebo, wherein he reveals the new science of epigenetics and how the mind can instruct the genes and cells in your body to behave in new ways.


In the book, Dr. Dispenza shares numerous documented cases of those who reversed cancer, heart disease, depression, crippling arthritis, and even the tremors of Parkinson’s disease by believing in a placebo.


Similarly, Dr. Dispenza tells of how others have gotten sick and even died the victims of a hex or voodoo curse—or after being misdiagnosed with a fatal illness.


You Are the Placebo combines the latest research in neuroscience, biology, psychology, hypnosis, behavioral conditioning, and quantum physics to demystify the workings of the placebo effect . . . and show how the seemingly impossible can become possible.

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The Myth of Happiness and Why it Makes Us Un-Happy [Guest Blog]

The Myth of Happiness and Why it Makes Us Un-Happy [Guest Blog] | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The Myth of Happiness and Why it Makes Us Un-Happy [Guest Blog] by Nancy Colier. Non-Duality America Online.

Jim Manske's insight:

Right now, I notice the happiness of "going home" and the mourning of saying good-bye to my daughter. In every moment, do you experience a similar dynamic mixture of feelings and needs?

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