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Empathy helps children to understand sarcasm | e! Science News

The greater the empathy skills of children, the easier it is for them to recognize sarcasm, according to a new study in the open-access journalFrontiers in Psychology. For children, sarcastic language can be difficult to understand. They generally begin to recognize sarcasm between ages 6 and 8, especially familiar sarcastic praise such as "Thanks a lot!" and "Nice going!" But some children take much longer to begin to understand sarcasm, with detection improving even through adolescence.

 

In a new study, Penny Pexman, Juanita Whalen, and Andrew Nicholson investigated whether differences in the ability of children to empathize with others might help to explain why.

The researchers looked at empathy specifically because they thought that in order to understand sarcasm children must be able to adopt the perspective of the speaker -- to understand the speaker's attitude and emotions.

 

The study involved 31 children between 8 and 9 years old in a task that required them to recognize sarcasm. After children watched a series of puppet shows that included either sarcastic or non-sarcastic praise, they were asked to pick up a "mean" toy shark if they believed that the puppets had spoken sarcastically, or a "nice" duck otherwise. Each child was tested 12 times, with different puppets and scenarios. The empathy skills of the children were measured separately.

 

Children detected the puppets' sarcasm about half of the time, and children with relatively strong empathy skills did so more accurately. Children with stronger empathy skills were nearly twice as accurate as children with less advanced empathy skills. Initially, the researchers analyzed a group of 6-7 year olds, but this age group revealed almost zero accuracy for sarcasm.

 

The researchers also quantified children's eye gaze and reaction time during the sarcasm recognition task, to quantify subtle clues about their understanding. They measured whether the children looked towards the duck or the shark, as well as the time it took them to choose either. This gave more subtle clues about the children's understanding.

 

"Sarcastic language, especially in unfamiliar forms, is a real challenge for most children," explains Prof. Pexman. "Even when children did not recognize a remark as sarcastic, there was evidence in their reactions that the children with stronger empathy skills were sensitive to the speaker's intent."

 

"This study helps us understand why some children deal better with this challenge than others and provides new insights about development of this complex aspect of emotion recognition," adds Pexman. "It also puts us in a better position to help children who are struggling with this challenge."

 
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Do gut bacteria control your mind? | KurzweilAI

Do gut bacteria control your mind? | KurzweilAI | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Bacteria within you — which outnumber your own cells about 100 times — may be affecting both your cravings and moods to get you to eat what they want, and may be driving you toward obesity.

 

That’s the conclusion of an article published this week in the journal BioEssays by researchers from UC San Francisco,Arizona State University and University of New Mexico from a review of the recent scientific literature.

 

How your gut microbiome may control you

 

The diverse community of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome, influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.Some bacterial species prefer fat, and others sugar, for instance. They vie with each other for food and to retain a niche within their ecosystem — your digestive tract — and they also often have different aims than you do when it comes to your own actions.Bacteria may influence your decisions by releasing signaling molecules into your gut. Because the gut is linked to the immune system, the endocrine system, and the nervous system, those signals could influence your physiologic and behavioral responses — and health.Bacteria may be acting through the vagus nerve, which connects 100 million nerve cells from the digestive tract to the base of the brain, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make you feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make you feel good.Certain strains of bacteria increase anxious behavior (in mice).Some strains of bacteria cause stomach cancer and perhaps other cancers.

 

What you can do (with medical guidance)

 

Make changes in what you eat. There are measurable changes in the microbiome within 24 hours of diet change, evolving on the time scale of minutes.Take appropriate probiotics. One study showed a drink containing Lactobacillus casei improved mood in those who were feeling the lowest.Kill targeted species with specific antibiotics.Acquire specialized bacteria that digest your favorite foods. (Bacteria that digest seaweed are found in humans in Japan, where seaweed is popular in the diet.)See previous KurzweilAI posts on gut bacteria

 

The co-authors’ study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Bonnie D. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin.

 

 

Jim Manske's insight:

On our trip to Korea two years ago, I started eating Kimchi regularly.  (There are hundreds of varieties of Kimchi consumed there other than the cabbage Kimchi commonly found in some US grocery stores.)  

 

I noticed an almost immediate positive effect on my digestive process as I increased the probiotic supply.  Now, I wonder what other effects the members of my "biome" may be influencing.  And I am grateful that we have learned to make our own kimchi, and our refrigerator has an abundance in the moment!

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» Three Tips to Teach Your Child Emotional Intelligence - Jonice Webb, PhD

» Three Tips to Teach Your Child Emotional Intelligence - Jonice Webb, PhD | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Emotional Intelligence is a larger factor in adult life success than general intelligence. Here are three clear guidelines for raising a child with high EI.

 

Three Parenting Tips to Maximize Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence:

Pay attention.  Work hard to see your child’s true nature.  What does your child like, dislike, get angry about, feel afraid of, or struggle with?  Feed these observations back to your child in a non-judgmental way so that your child can see herself through your eyes, and so that she can feel how well you know her. 

Life Advantage: Your child will see herself reflected in your eyes, and she will know who she is. This will give her confidence in her life choices and will make her resilient to life’s challenges.

 

Feel an emotional connection to your child.  Strive to feel what your child is feeling (empathy), whether you agree with it or not.  When you feel your child’s emotion, he will feel an instant bond with you. 

Life Advantage: Your child will learn empathy and will have healthier relationships throughout his life.

 

Respond competently to your child’s emotional need.  Do not judge your child’s feeling as right or wrong.  Look beyond the feeling, to the source. Help your child name her emotion.  Help her manage the emotion. 

Life Advantage: Your child will have a healthy relationship with his own emotions. He will naturally know that his feelings are important and how to put them into words and manage them.

 

No parent can follow these tips perfectly, of course. This is not about perfection; it’s about making the effort. Effort in itself shows love and care. When your child sees you trying to understand his feelings or feel his feelings, whether you succeed or not, he receives a powerful message:

Your feelings matter to me.

And what your child will hear:

You matter.

 

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Play Doesn't End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too

Play Doesn't End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Play among children is vital for their social development. So what's in it for adults?
Jim Manske's insight:

Marshall once said something like, "Don't do it if it isn't play."  And as Wes Taylor says, "Play on!"

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The Happiness Equation: It Can Predict How Good You Will Feel Moment-by-Moment — PsyBlog

The Happiness Equation: It Can Predict How Good You Will Feel Moment-by-Moment — PsyBlog | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
The vital role expectations play in our happiness is revealed by data collected from 18,420 people worldwide.
Jim Manske's insight:

This confirms my direct experience...my expectations matter!  Furthermore, my happiness can be enhance when I am willing to reveal my expectations in a vulnerable way AND empathize with the unexpressed expectations of others!

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Jews and Arabs Refuse to Be Enemies: A Compassionate Response to War - ELISHA GOLDSTEIN, PH.D.

Jews and Arabs Refuse to Be Enemies: A Compassionate Response to War -  ELISHA GOLDSTEIN, PH.D. | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

 

At some point in our development we learn to see others through a lens of fear and hate. Because the brain is so malleable in our younger years these beliefs become that much more ingrained and as we grow older the skew of our lens becomes hardened. When it comes to the Middle East, it seems there is a collective lens that’s been hardened through history that Arabs and Jews have an irreconcilable relationship.  

 

There seems to be a social construction of hopelessness that we’re all entranced in. But if hate and ignorance are learned, is it possible they can be unlearned?

 

The reality is nobody has “the answer” to this conflict and the historical trauma on both sides runs deep. When safety feels threatened, as is a continual reality there, it’s a natural survival reaction to close down the mind and heart in order to protect against vulnerability and default to a fight or flight response. If someone was shooting arrows at you, you’d put up your shield and either run or eventually shoot back. At the same time, I know there are many people on both sides, if not the majority, that see the common humanity between each other, want deeply to feel safe and protected, and long to live in peace.

 

From thoughts come actions and from actions comes consequences.

Read through the intentions below in the following “Compassionate Peace Practice.”

 

Set your judgments aside for a moment and see if you can bring them into your heart and mind when considering all those who are suffering in this war.

 

A Compassionate Peace Practice (Share Generously):

 

“May all those who have suffered violence and all those who have committed violence feel safe and protected from inner and outer harm (because if they did feel safe they’d be less like to commit violent acts).”

 

“May all those in conflict be awakened to their common humanity.”

 

“May all those in conflict be free from hatred and the delusion of separateness.”

 

“May all people with hate in their hearts release this burden and learn to forgive.”

 

“May we all be free from the fear that keeps us stuck in destructive cycles of conflict.”

 

 “May we all live in peace.”

 

Almost everyone is touched by this conflict and it is often and emotionally stirring subject to even bring up. Please share your intentions, thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

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Pay It Back and Pay It Forward~Glen Geher, Ph.D.

Pay It Back and Pay It Forward~Glen Geher, Ph.D. | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

One of the single greatest advances in the evolutionary behavioral sciences in the past several decades can be described as the intellectual bursting of the “selfishness” dam. In 1976, renowned biologist, thinker, and writer, Richard Dawkins published The Selfish Gene (by Oxford University Press). This book is, essentially, a highly accessible and powerful summary of Darwin’s ideas on evolution — applied largely (but not fully) to several classes of animal behavior (such as the mating habits of the praying mantis, the murderous nature of emperor penguins, and the helpful nature of vampire bats). This book is truly awesome and you should put it near the top of your list if you have any interest in the world around you and haven’t yet read this significant work.

 

One intellectual consequence of Dawkins’ provocative title was a focus on the many connotations of the term selfish. Dawkins meant this term in a very specific sense, literally meaning that a “selfish gene” is a gene that codes for qualities of an organism that increase the likelihood of survival and/or reproductive success. In short, replicating genes out-exist non-replicating (or poorly replicating) genes in the future of a species. This is really all he meant. But folks who followed his work elaborated. It made sense to many to think of an animal such as a human, then, as a primarily selfish being. After all, the reasoning goes, if genes that exist are selfish, then products of genes, such as humans, must be too. And this fallacious reasoning drove much in the way of (a) how evolutionary science has progressed since the publication of The Selfish Gene and (b) how evolution (now seen by many as espousing a “red in tooth and claw” take on our kind), has taken on something of a cold angle on what it means to be any kind of organism, including a human.

 

There is good news and bad news that follow up on The Selfish Gene. The bad news is that this misinterpretation (or overly applied extension) of Darwin’s metaphor has not helped work in the evolutionary sciences with PR issues. People from the outside looking in often think, “Oh, that evolution stuff, isn’t that the stuff that says we are animals and that we all want to kill each other for our own selfish gain?” Not so pleasant a portrait. I can see why someone might not like that!

 

The good news follows: An amazing thing about this field in the past several decades has been the landslide of research that sheds light on the positives of human nature from an evolutionary perspective (SeeGeher, 2014). We can almost think of this as the dawn of a potential field we could call Positive Evolutionary Psychology (yup, PEP!). Here are just a few directions that the science in evolutionary psychology has taken which paints humans as loving, helpful, and self-sacrificing:

 

1. Paying It Back: Or giving back to others who have given to you in some important way, is hugely significant from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. Trivers’ (1971) landmark work on the topic of reciprocal altruism demonstrated in relatively long-lived species such as our own, the tendency for altruism among-non kin may evolve, such as people helping others, even strangers. Sometimes this kind of help is “paying it back,” or reciprocating altruistic acts that have come to new altruists in a small-social community. Not paying back altruism is socially dangerous — in your social ecosystem, my social ecosystem, and in the social ecosystems of pre-agrarian humans all around the globe. We’ve evolved to pay it back.

 

2. Paying It Forward: This is a term that’s been thrown around a lot in recent years, and I love it! It essentially says to give to others — not to reciprocate them for having helped you in the past, but to help them proactively so that they are on good footing moving forward. Maybe they will help you in the future. Maybe they will help others close to you (kin, friends, etc.), in the future. Maybe they will help the broader community in the future. Your helping them proactively sets the stage for any of these outcomes, all of which have potential to positively influence you and your kin and your social network. Paying it forward is seen positively in social communities; it helps people develop reputations as altruists or helpers or, more simply, as folks whom can be relied upon. And, without question, such a reputation is adaptive and leads to be positive outcomes (even if indirectly) for the individual who chooses to pay it forward.

 

Think of joining a Big Brother, Big Sister program when you’re in your mid-20s (as I did when I was a graduate student in NH). In these kinds of programs, you find a young child (usually around 7 years old) who just needs a little boost, a little help, some older figure to lean on and talk to. For instance, when I lived in NH in the 1990s, I met regularly with 7-year-old Jacob. Great kid, dad not so much in the picture, benefited from having some kind of young adult male role model.

 

We did what he wanted to do — movies, sledding, mini-golf, swimming, etc. We talked and we’ve stay in touch still. He’s now a graduate of the University of Vermont and is an ace at computers; for him, the sky is the limit. My helping him when he was young was paying it forward; and when I see how well he’s done, I’m pretty darn glad that I put my time in to get to know Jacob.

 

3. Loving Selflessly: An enormous body of work on the evolutionary psychology of love that has recently come out (e.g., Fisher, 1993) has demonstrated how strong our love for another can be. And this kind of love can be selfless. Further, this kind of love is an important part of our evolutionary heritage.

 

Human offspring are altricial (helpless), and acquiring help from multiple adults (think monogamous pair of adults) is hugely beneficial to successful development. And when the adults in that pair are fully aligned in their vision of family, which benefits from them being truly in love with one another, parenting will thrive. Love, an inherently selfless act, is a foundational part of the human evolutionary story.

 

Did Dawkin’s juggernaut of a term, Selfish Gene, imply that all features of all organisms are selfish in the colloquial sense? Absolutely not. He simply meant that qualities of organisms that lead to gene replication are likely, mathematically, to out-exist qualities that do not facilitate such replication. In complex, socially oriented, and long-lived critters like us, it’s very often the case that selfless, other-oriented behaviors (such as paying it back, paying it forward, or loving another in a selfless manner) are exactly the highly evolved things that make us human and these are the qualities we share with humans in all corners of the globe.

 

To some extent, selfish genes have, in the case of humans, created altruistic apes who focus largely on what they can do to help others and to build strong and positive communities. This sounds a little like positive evolutionary psychology* to me!

 

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Three Ways Leaders Can Listen with More Empathy

Three Ways Leaders Can Listen with More Empathy | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Study after study has shown that listening is critical to leadership effectiveness. So, why are so few leaders good at it?
 

Too often, leaders seek to take command,
direct conversations, talk too much, or worry
about what they will say next in defense
or rebuttal.  

 

The ability and willingness to listen with empathy is often what sets a leader apart.  Hearing words is not adequate; the leader truly needs to work at understanding the position and perspective of the others involved in the conversation. 

 

In a recent interview, Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO, advises leaders to listen more and ask the right question.  Bennett shared that “for most of my twenties I assumed that the world was more interested in me than I was in it, so I spent most of my time talking, usually in a quite uninformed way, about whatever I thought, rushing to be clever, thinking about what I was going to say to someone rather than listening to what they were saying to me.”

 

by John Coleman


Via Edwin Rutsch
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Chris Brown's curator insight, July 16, 12:38 PM

A nice article that discusses three behaviors in empathic listening.  Each of these are areas that we should focus on to improve our connection through communications. 

Recognize verbal and non-verbal cues.

Process what you hear/see

Respond thoughtfully

Be sure to link to the article for more in depth information.  Well worth the time to read.   

donhornsby's curator insight, July 16, 3:12 PM

(From the article): Overall, it is important for leaders to recognize the multidimensionality of empathetic listening and engage in all forms of behaviors.  Among its benefits, empathic listening builds trust and respect, enables people to reveal their emotions–including tensions, facilitates openness of information sharing, and creates an environment that encourages collaborative problem-solving.

Deborah Orlowski, Ph.D.'s curator insight, July 17, 9:11 AM

Coleman suggests 3 simple ways anyone can be a more effective listener. They seem self-evident but I wonder how often we actually do them? Why not try them for yourself.  If you think you're already practicing them, check yourself to make sure you really are, not just thinking you are! 

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By Talking, Inmates and Victims Make Things ‘More Right’ - NYTimes.com

By Talking, Inmates and Victims Make Things ‘More Right’ - NYTimes.com | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Via Wendy Jason
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Wendy Jason's curator insight, July 7, 7:29 AM

“Holding you in your humanity — it’s how we hold each other accountable.”

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The Surprising Trait Google Looks For To Identify Potential Leaders

The Surprising Trait Google Looks For To Identify Potential Leaders | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The prototypical leader is a hero: gives the rousing speech, inspires the troops, and shows up at the last minute to save the day. At least that's how leaders are portrayed. but that's not at all what Google discovered as their most important qualities.

 

At Google, they're obsessive about looking at data to determine what makes employees successful and what they found in the numbers was surprising.

 

The most important character trait of a leader is one that you're more likely to associate with a dull person than a dynamic leader: predictability. The more predictable you are, day after day, the better.

Google people operations on leadership

Taking an evidence-based approach rather than a gut-driven one, Google debunks conventional wisdom on how to build an awesome team. Twice a year, anyone who has a manager gets to review their boss in an "upward feedback survey," considering performance across 12 to 18 different factors. So Google has reams of data, tens of thousands of data points of on-the-job success, to understand what they should look for in new hires.

 

When they crunched the numbers on the question of what makes a successful leader, what they found out was remarkable for its overlooked common sense. Leaders must be predictable and consistent, because then employees grasp "that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want."

 

In other words, when managers are predictable, they remove a roadblock from employees' path — themselves. Managers have their own tendency to meddle, criticize, and second-guess. Without that roadblock, employees don't have to worry about whether their manager will try to jump in and "save the day" with some new idea. Instead, they have the space necessary to do an amazing job.

 

On the flip side, "[i]f your manager is all over the place, you're never going to know what you can do, and you're going to experience it as very restrictive."

 

As Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google put it, "[i]f a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom."

Autonomy is the key to employee happiness and outsized performance

The freedom that a consistent leader provides is a powerful force because having autonomy over one's work is one of the most potent motivators of personal productivity.

 

In 2004, psychologists, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan conducted a study of hundreds of associates at an investment bank on their job satisfaction. They found that the highest job satisfaction ratings came from employees whose bosses offered "autonomy support" — that is, acknowledgment, encouragement, and structure around getting work done as the employee determines, not the manager.

 

The kicker is that Deci and Ryan also discovered that the employees with autonomy were not only the happiest, they were also the ones with the highest job performance.

 

Great leadership is never about being a dramatic hero. It's just not about you. Instead it's about providing support to your team by being willing to be seen as boring and predictable.

 

Provide information they need, work from their perspective, cultivate their performance by offering them the oxygen to succeed. Then they'll have the breathing room and self-determination to shine.



Read more: http://blog.idonethis.com/google-most-important-leadership-trait/#ixzz37IFVxY1F

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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?

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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:

 

Anticipation

Recollection

Gratitude

 

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?

 

SUM UP

 

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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The Land of Empathy and Wonder

The Land of Empathy and Wonder | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
The only thing important in my imagined land is a person's heart. And his empathy. And his ability to find wonder....
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Please consider joining us on Saturday, 4 pm PT for a Taste of Compassionate Leadership, our free monthly teleclass

We will focus on "Be the Change!".

To register:  http://myaccount.maestroconference.com/conference/register/MRUM54RW0HC2PWT

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Sweden celebrates 200 years of peace - Solveig Rundquist

Sweden celebrates 200 years of peace - Solveig Rundquist | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Precisely 200 years ago, on August 15th, 1814, Sweden entered a new era of peace. The last battle took its final breath on August 14th after the signing of the Convention of Moss, ending a brief war with Norway sparked by the nation declaring its independence.

 

The war would be Sweden's last.

 

"Sweden as a nation has not participated in war for 200 years," Peter Wallensteen, senior professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University, told The Local. 

 

How has Sweden managed to stayed out of war for two entire centuries?

 

"Primarily by luck," Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told The Local on Friday.  Wallensteen pointed out that Sweden has contributed forces to UN peacekeeping operations, has an active military and a thriving arms industry, and that the definition of peace is debatable. 

 

Nor does avoiding war mean that Sweden is officially neutral. Sweden left its policy of neutrality  when it joined the EU in 1995, opting instead for "non-alignment".  

 

"But there is an absence of the use of political violence in the country, no international wars, no civil wars, and no military coups," Wallensteen explained. Due to Switzerland's unfortunate civil war in 1847, Wallensteen said, Sweden's tally even beats the capital of neutrality. 

 

All of the Scandinavian nations had a chance at taking the prize longest reign of peace, Wallensteen said, since they stayed out of the first world war. It was during World War II that things started falling apart. Sweden never officially took a side in World War II - but the nation has received harsh international criticism for letting the Nazis use Swedish railways to travel to and from Germany and Finland from invaded neighbour Norway, questioning the image of neutrality and indeed casting a light of shame and cowardice upon the country. 

 

But historians say Sweden did not favour Germany. Rather, Sweden took the most non-confrontational stance it could. During the war posters were hung on building walls with a yellow and blue tiger, and the words "en svensk tiger" - translating both as "a Swedish tiger" and "a Swede keeps his mouth shut". According to Wallensteen, this attitude is not native, but learned. "Politicians realized as far back as 1905, after the treaty with Norway, that war creates lasting animosity. But solutions create lasting cooperation where everybody benefits." 

 

Today Swedes have a reputation for being reserved and non-confrontational. How did the war-faring Vikings and mighty kings of the late Empire of Sweden transform into humble striped cats? "I think that Swedes have learned it doesn't pay to engage in violent conflict," Wallensteen told The Local. "There is an attitude of strong conflict awareness. There is a willingness to find solutions that work, solutions that are pragmatic, practical, and rational." 

 

The Swedish climate of compromise, Wallensteen said, grew from experience. "People do take a stand, but they do not take a stand so incompatible with others that discussion becomes impossible. Due to long historical experience, Swedes are willing to open up to negotiation." Wallensteen said that the paradigm shift made a difference not just on the international scale and in peace-keeping issues, but also on the domestic front. "I think there was a cultural shift away from viewing war as honourable and great to a much more civilian understanding of what is good in society," Wallensteen said.  "And in the Swedish case that means work hard, develop new industries, build welfare, be involved in national affairs... These kinds of values have gradually become more important than being engaged in military operations."

 

But will the "peace" - or simply war avoidance - continue? "Peace must be created, secured, and continuously nurtured by dialogue and diplomacy," Bildt told The Local.  "Prediction is difficult," Wallensteen said after brief hesitation. "But I hope so. There is an atmosphere of inclusivity, a willingness in Sweden to integrate everyone and build a tolerant society." 

 

Sweden's terror threat level has remained "high" since a botched suicide bombing in Stockholm in 2010. Reverberations from the riots of 2013 are still being felt. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, and an increasing number of Swedes are engaging in violent extremism abroad. "All that was happening before as well," Wallensteen remarked. "The important thing is how society as a whole reacts to it - and society is clearly against it and tries to make counter moves. In the riots, for instance, counter moves include integration projects instead of sending in police. It's a classical Swedish way of dealing with things." Wallensteen said it would be interesting to see how the extremist Swedes fighting abroad would be handled. "But again, I think the solution is to think about it in terms of prevention, what went wrong, and what we need to do better." 

 

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt stressed that peace in Sweden is not the only priority in the globalized society of today, however - and Sweden cannot float on the status quo, but must engage actively to continue peace."Let's not forget that peace is far away in many places," Bildt told The Local. "Europe is in the most difficult strategic times that I can remember. The situation is extremely fragile to the east and to the south. The Syrian war has created a massive humanitarian disaster, and the recent developments in Iraq are also alarming." "In this respect, let's hope the coming 200 years will be more successful for the world than the previous ones."

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New Scientific Study: Being Honest Improved Health~Anita Kelly, Ph.D.

New Scientific Study: Being Honest Improved Health~Anita Kelly, Ph.D. | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Eighteen hours ago, I gave a presentation at the national convention of the American Psychological Association here in Washington DC. It was on the results from the newest study from my Science of Honesty project with co-author Lijuan Wang. She too is a professor at the University of Notre Dame.
The design of the study, which we just finished last week, was simple. Seventy-two healthy adults (average age of 41 years) were recruited through newspapers in the South Bend community. They were randomly assigned to two groups: a Sincerity group and a Control group. Both groups came to my laboratory at the University of Notre Dame every week for 5 weeks to complete polygraph tests and anonymous health measures. Whereas the Control group was told nothing of the following, the Sincerity group was told:

 

"Throughout every day of the next 5 weeks, you must speak honestly, truthfully, and sincerely -- not only about the big things, but also about the small things, such as why you were late. You must always mean what you say in situations where your statements are to be taken seriously, as opposed to when joking or obviously exaggerating. While you certainly can choose not to answer questions, you must always mean what you say.”

 

What was so amazing is that in the 5th and final week, the Sincerity group reported significantly fewer physical health complaints than did the Control group. Specifically, they had experienced 7 fewer symptoms such as sore throats, headaches, nausea that week. Because the only difference between the two groups was the sincerity instructions, we can conclude that these instructions actually caused the health benefit.

 

Ever since the fall, I too have been following these instructions. Normally get 8 hours of sleep and have 5-7 colds in a winter. Now at only 3 hours of sleep, I have been sick zero times since the fall. Thus, I could not hold off on telling you about the results. The impact is so compelling that I urge you to try it.

 

It might not be easy to “always mean what you say”. You might find that you have to go back and correct some of the things that pop out of your mouth. But don’t let that discourage you. Being sincere is a process. You will get there with some practice. And when you do, you will see that you are becoming more humble, more open to learning, and less sensitive to rejection. Being sincere brings you closer to the decent people you know, pushes away the nay sayers, and allows you to feel a certain hopefulness about the world. To the extent that you experience these, I believe you too will have profound health benefits. You are more than welcome to post your progress in the comments here. I would love to read them; and I believe it will help inspire other readers to stay the course with you.

Jim Manske's insight:

Telling the truth frees me from having to keep track of deceptions!  IT frees my heart from the thought that there is an "other" to hide from.  I also enjoy the acknowledgment of autonomy...I do not "have to" tell anybody anything, AND I can cultivate openness and willingness to say the truth, choosing to speak the truth in the service of connection and love.

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Happiness Equation Reveals Key to Cheery Life

Happiness Equation Reveals Key to Cheery Life | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
By studying how people respond to recent events in their lives, researchers have developed a mathematical formula that can predict individuals' happiness.
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Amazing how we humans love to quantify even the unQuantifiable!

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A Restorative Response to MH17 | Charles Eisenstein

A Restorative Response to MH17 | Charles Eisenstein | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Aren’t they awful? Aren’t they appalling? How could they? They must be monstrous, evil, inhuman. The only way to deal with such people is to stand up to them, destroy them, send them a message, take a stand, deter them, show them it isn’t acceptable, hold them to account. Any other response is soft, weak, naïve.

 

How many times have we heard this narrative repeated? A horrible event occurs: the downing of a jetliner, the murder of three Israeli teenagers, the destruction of the twin towers, gas attacks in Syria… and immediately the press and political classes pump up the narrative that whoever committed this atrocity did so because they are bad people – bad people who implicate a whole class of bad people that must be overcome with force.

 

The diagnosis is simple – evil – and the solution is straightforward – force and the threat of force.

 

In the case of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, we see the usual formula in action. They shot down a jetliner! They knew what they were doing! Then they covered it up! And they’ve taken the flight recorders! The rebels are destroying the evidence! Putin bears direct responsibility! One gets the impression of a band of gibbering fiends, rubbing their hands together in glee as they celebrate mass murder.

 

That the MH17 narrative outlined above suits U.S. geopolitical ambitions is no secret (see Patrick Smith’s forthright and brave article for a taste, as well as this item-by-item account of the propaganda efforts to construct that narrative). Beyond that, it also conforms to a deeper, less obvious mythology that divides the world into good and evil (always putting oneself and one’s in-group on the side of good) and that seeks to improve the world by conquering evil. This is a kind of empire-justifying meta-narrative that we see all the time, for example in the War on Terror and the War on Drugs, in discourse about criminal justice and immigration, in the militarization of police, in the justification for mass surveillance… the world is a place of danger and threat, and that security and well-being comes through being in control. (We see it as well, for that matter, in our dominant systems of medicine, education, and agriculture.)

 

Fail to go along with that view, and you are named soft, naïve, unrealistic, a liberal, a dupe. Should you question it publicly, you are also an impediment to a foreign policy that sees America as Good and any opposition to “U.S. interests” as proof of evil.

 

There is an alternative view that doesn’t dehumanize the perpetrators of atrocities and render them into cartoonish villains of the type that appear in James Bond movies. It says that evil is not an elemental aspect of the human psyche, but is the product of context. It therefore seeks first to understand. What is the context? What were the circumstances from which it seemed right for a human being to launch the missile?

 

Ultimately it comes down to the question, “What would it take for me to have made the same choice, were I in that person’s shoes?” That is what I mean by understanding, or compassion. Of course, sometimes it may elude us, and sometimes even achieving it, we may not see the possibility of anything but a force-based response. Nonetheless, to see violence as arising from context invites a different first reaction: rather than to find the one to blame, it is to seek understanding.

 

Barely mentioned in most of the articles in the mainstream media is the information that the missile crew thought they were downing a Ukranian military transport plane. It was similar to the American downing of Iranian Airlines Flight 655 in 1988, resulting in nearly identical loss of life.

That incident was “deeply regretted” by the United States, but nowhere was it treated as a casus belli or cause for sanctions against the U.S. It was understood that in tense military situations, horrible things happen.

 

Does it sound like I am excusing the act? Am I saying we should do nothing about it? Only if one equates “doing something” with punishment. Ah, but if we don’t punish, then nothing will deter such acts in the future, right? Well, that is true if the reason for such acts is that the perpetrators are just evil. But if they are not, if in fact they are acting as human beings in such circumstances act, then another kind of response might be warranted.

 

After all, the dehumanization of the perpetrator is of a kind with the dehumanization of the enemy, of the Other, that motivates and justifies war in the first place. We have been fighting wars to overcome evil for a very long time. This year is the 100th anniversary of World War One, the “war to end all wars.” Given the legacy of that failure, by now one would think we would try another approach.

 

In that spirit, let me offer a modest proposal for how to deal with the MH17 tragedy. First, announce that those responsible for launching the missile will be immune to any prosecution or punishment if they agree to participate in a Restorative Circle process. Then, gather them together with families of the victims, representatives of the warring sides, and observers from around the world. In the Restorative Circle, each involved party tells his or her story, and agrees to listen to the stories of everyone else. Each has a chance to show their feelings and have their feelings witnessed.

 

This proposal applies equally if the airliner downing were the doing of elements in the Ukrainian government (while there are some indications of this, I am skeptical –  most conspiracy theories underestimate the power of human bureaucratic incompetence and folly.) If that is the case, we might be tempted to turn the same tactics of demonization toward the perpetrators of the tragedy, and not see that they, too, were acting from a story in which what they did seemed justified for the sake of a greater good.

 

Ancient circle practices for addressing conflict, revived today by people like Dominic Barter, breaks the cycle of violence, judgement, dehumanization, and retribution. It is a very powerful experience. Wait, you might say, the perpetrators haven’t been punished! True, they have not. But what is the goal of punishment? One is to stop them from doing it again, but confronting the agony of the victims’ families in a circle held with non-judgmental compassion is life-changing. The second goal of punishment is to deter others from committing similar crimes. But that goal depends mostly on the supposed evil of the criminal, who is assumed to be making some kind of self-interested calculation before committing the crime. Come on, really? Is anyone going to think, “Well, I’d sure like to shoot down this jetliner, but I might get executed so I’d better not?” I think a far better deterrent to violence is to see, up close, the humanity of those we have dehumanized. Witnessing a Restorative Circle accomplishes that.

 

If you discard this proposal as naïve, you are surely in good company. Consider though: what have been the results of thousands of years of war and punishment? Have we ever tried this before for an incident of geopolitical importance? Imagine the effect on the world if we paused from battle and,with the whole world watching, created a space for shared grief, forgiveness, and repentance? It would be an audacious experiment. I can’t guarantee it would “work,” but we’ve been trying the alternative – the war on evil – for thousands of years.

 

The hope is that someday we might win the war on evil and the world will finally be a better place. To do that, we have to be more vigilant, more efficient… for example, we can collect data on every human being on the planet, constantly monitor their whereabouts, and develop the capacity to kill them with the press of a button. That way, evil will have no chance. At the same time, we can educate evil out of people as much as possible and lock up the incorrigible.

 

A good plan. Unfortunately, as even those who implement it know, the war on evil will never succeed. We soldier on with the weary knowledge that the best we can do is stem the tide through a ceaseless and unwinnable struggle. This is just the way the world is; it is the human condition.

 

Is it though? Occasionally we catch glimpses of a different possibility: moments of unexpected forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, or a change of heart in situations where no one could reasonably expect anything but the same old cycles of violence. Are we to dismiss these as anomalies?

 

Exceptions to human nature? Or could it be that they point to something real, a more beautiful world, if only we would accept their invitation?

 

There is no formula for how to do that, or rather, there are many formulas, processes, and practices. All of them start with a perception: that we all share fundamental needs; that evil is a product of circumstances; that if I were in the totality of your circumstances, my brother, I would do as you do; that we are all in this together.

 

I do not, of course, expect any government leader to read this article and say, Hey, let’s give it a try. My purpose is to insinuate this way of thinking a little more deeply into the minds of whoever reads it, because its time will come. After thousands of years, we are growing tired of the war on the Other in all its permutations. The time of no enemies is coming, when we realize that we are all in this together and that each one of us is capable of any act.

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Can Narcissists Learn Empathy? ~Mike Bunderant

Can Narcissists Learn Empathy? ~Mike Bunderant | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Surrey have attempted to find out whether patients suffering from narcissism can learn to show empathy for another person’s suffering.

 

Their study, which is being published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, has shown that it may be possible.

 

One of the main hallmarks of narcissism is a lack of empathy for others. This has a negative effect on their personal relationships, social interaction, and social behaviors. In most cases, this is because their lack of empathy means that they are unconcerned with the effect their actions have on others.

 

For this study, researchers chose to focus on patients who exhibit subclinical narcissism. This diagnosis is given to patients who are psychologically healthy while still exhibiting some narcissistic traits. This form of narcissism is more common than narcissistic personality disorder.

 

To examine whether narcissists could be capable of empathizing with another person’s suffering, they asked study participants to read an excerpt describing the break up of a relationship. No matter how severe the hypothetical scenario was, high-narcissists did not show any empathy for the subject. This was true even in situations where the subject of the excerpt suffered overwhelming depression.

 

Researchers then asked study participants to take the perspective of the target person. For example, female participants were shown a short documentary that described another woman’s experience with domestic violence. The participants were asked to imagine feeling the emotions of the woman while watching the video. In this case, high-narcissists reported much higher empathy for the woman.

 

Finally, participants were tested to see if they could be moved physiologically as well as emotionally. In previous studies it has been noted that increases in heart rate indicate an empathic response.

 

Researchers found that while high-narcissists usually showed a significantly lower heart rate when exposed to another person’s distress, during the perspective-taking exercise they responded with the same level of increased heart rate as low-narcissists.

 

This indicates that it may be possible for narcissists to empathize with others in the correct circumstances. They key is encouraging them to consider the situations from another point of view.

Are you living with a narcissist?

If so, it is important to encourage him or her to adopt a different perspective before expecting empathy. Within his or her default point of view, empathy cannot flow. The challenge is how to get the narcissistic individual to adopt a new perspective.

 

Yet, you can help any self-centered individual to imagine another person in his or her mind’s eye. Then ask the subject to imagine becoming that other person, feeling what you imagine they are feeling. These kinds of direct interventions have been common in NLP training for decades.

 

If you cannot encourage your narcissistic partner to take a new perspective, but demand empathy anyway, then you can count on feeling dismissed or rejected. We learn from the above-mentioned study that consciously identifying with another person is the critical key to empathy.

 

And this is true for all of us. Many people identify with the perspective of others naturally. Narcissistic individuals do not do it at all. It’s a tool that they probably don’t even know they have.

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Empathy - BBC Radio 4

Empathy - BBC Radio 4 | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Empathy
What is Empathy? Can we learn to be more empathetic? And is it always a good thing?


Via Edwin Rutsch
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The Power of the Powerless by Wendy McElroy

The Power of the Powerless by Wendy McElroy | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

In the sixth century BC, the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu identified the world’s biggest problem. Individuals viewed themselves as powerless. The burden of impotence made them resent others and fear life, which, in turn, led them to seek power through controlling others. The quest was not an expression of authority, but one of aggression. Lao Tzu rooted most of social problems in the individual’s sense of paralysis.

 

The extraordinary power of the individual can be declared in many ways.


The Power of Living in Truth


In 1978, a 42-year-old Czech playwright named Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) made an observation similar to that of Lao Tzu. He wrote what became one of the most influential essays in the Cold War era: The Power of the Powerless. It was published in samizdat form; that is, it was reproduced by hand and distributed from individual to individual to avoid censorship.


The Power of the Powerless was written in the wake of the “Prague Spring” (1968) during which Czechoslovakia liberalized freedom of speech and freedom of travel. The Soviet Union responded with brutal force that crushed the flicker of liberty. Havel was targeted for his prominent role in the reach for Czech independence. Arrested and imprisoned, he achieved an epiphany: the most powerful weapon against guns was the truth. The Power of the Powerless was a blistering attack on the communist regime. It was also a call for individuals to understand their own power not merely when they dissent but also when they comply with a system that is a lie.

 

Havel illustrated the impact of compliance—denying the truth—by pointing to “the manager of a fruit-and-vegetable shop” who places a “Workers of the world, unite!” poster among his onions and carrots. He does so because not placing it would make him appear disloyal to the regime. “He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life.” Thus, the grocer and others who obey without question “must live within a lie. They need not accept the lie. It is enough for them to have accepted their life with it and in it. For by this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system.” The strength of communism or any oppressive regime rests upon the obedience of individuals.

 

Havel argued that individuals have “within themselves the power to remedy their own powerlessness” simply by living the truth. If the grocer realized that the slogan was actually saying, “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he would be ashamed to display it. By realizing the meaning of their actions, people are led toward “living in truth,” which is the source of freedom. The truth need not be screamed from a rooftop; it can be manifested in small daily acts through which the individual reclaims his own power, such as the ‘act’ of not posting a sign. The individual must defy unreality and refuse to be complicit in a delusion. Havel observed, “The principle here is that the center of power is identical with the center of truth.”

 

Havel concluded by asking, “the real question is whether the brighter future is really always so distant. What if, on the contrary, it has been here for a long time already, and only our own blindness and weakness has prevented us from seeing it around us and within us, and kept us from developing it?”


The Difference One Individual Can Make

 

Chiune Sugihara expressed another way in which an individual can express his own power. Sugihara exercised what is called “positional power.” That’s the impact a person possesses due to his position in an organization.

 

During World War II, Sugihara (1900-1986) served as Vice-Consul at the Japanese Consulate in Lithuania. Japan and Germany were allies. The Japanese government issued visas only to those who had gone through an immigration process and had sufficient funds. Few Jews qualified, especially since the Japanese Foreign Ministry required everyone who received a visa to be cleared for a third destination that ensured they would leave Japan.

 

Against orders from his superiors and against German interests, Sugihara acted on his own initiative. In July 1940, he began to grant ten-day visas that sidestepped the requirement of a third destination by listing one of two obscure venues that did not require their own visas for entry. He negotiated with officials in the Soviet Union to allow Jews to travel through their territory at five times the normal price of a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Railway. He reportedly spent 18 to 20 hours a day arranging visas; his wife assisted him with the paperwork. For 29 days, Sugihara issued the documents that meant life. In September 1940, when the Japanese Consulate was closed and Sugihara was forced to leave, he reportedly threw blank sheets of paper with the consulate seal and his signature out of a train window to a gathered crowd of people still appealing for visas. He gave the consul stamp itself to a refugee who used it to save more Jews.

 

Estimates on the number of visas issued by Sugihara vary but 6,000 is the most common number. Since families often traveled on a visa granted to a “head of household,” the number of lives saved is even more difficult to assess. The Simon Wiesenthal Center believes that about 40,000 descendants of the refugees he saved owe their existence to him.

In 1985, the state of Israel rewarded Sugihara with the title of Righteous Among Nations. The title honors those who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust.


What is Necessary to Assume Your Power

 

Sugihara claimed his power by acting on his conscience rather than on orders. When asked why he risked so much to help strangers, Sugihara responded: “They were human beings and they needed help. I’m glad I found the strength to make the decision to give it to them. I may have to disobey my government, but if I don’t I would be disobeying God.” That was the truth within Sugihara.

 

It was the truth Havel believed every human being should live. Anyone who did so is profoundly free because he has “shattered the world of appearances.... He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie. He has broken through the exalted facade of the system and exposed the real, base foundations of power. He has said that the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is in fact naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world.

 

He has enabled everyone to peer behind the curtain. He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth.”

 

Anyone who dissents by living the the truth is a fundamental threat to the state because a lie cannot coexist with what is true. Anyone who dissents and claims his own power denies the state “in principle and threatens it in its entirety.” That is why speaking out against the state is “suppressed more severely than anything else.”

 

What is required to live the truth? First, an individual must realize that truth does not come from outside as an ideology or from other people; it exists within as a realization that comes from experience, reason, and a sense of humanity. Second, freedom rests on a recognition of the inextinguishable dignity of every individual. Third, it requires courage.

 

Each person must stand up and claim their own power even if it is expressed in seemingly small ways. Because there is no such thing as a small step toward freedom. The first step, however small, is the one that matters most .

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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
http://j.mp/JJDMc4
 


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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Jose Mejia R's curator insight, July 21, 6:14 AM

Esperemos que pronto sea traducido al español y otros idiomas. Importante aporte sobre un tema que  necesita saber y practicar la humanidad. 

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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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