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Bunnies, Stinkbugs and Maggots: The Secrets of Empathy | TIME.com

Bunnies, Stinkbugs and Maggots: The Secrets of Empathy | TIME.com | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

I shouldn’t give a hoot about how you feel — and you shouldn’t care about my feelings either. In a world in which survival and procreation are our greatest genetic imperatives, it has always paid to keep our eyes firmly focused on the prize — which is ourselves. But in a world in which we also depend for that survival (to say nothing of those procreative opportunities) on other people, we need a healthy dose of empathy too. For humans, that has always created behavioral tension.

 

More often than we realize, we find it hard to understand in any intuitive way the feelings other people are having when we’re feeling something different. You’re sick with a stomach bug and you can’t imagine how anyone else in your family could be hungry enough to sit down for dinner. You’re having a rollicking time at a party and you can’t understand why the person off to the side who seems sunk in gloom can’t just shake it off and join the fun. But when you’re the one sitting down to dinner or you’re the one at the fringe of a party, you are just as emotionally removed from people feeling the opposite way.

 

Perhaps not surprisingly, this discordance has a scientific name — egocentricity bias in the emotional domain (EEB) — and the study of it can reveal a lot about when we do and don’t rise above ourselves to understand the feelings of others. In a study just published in the Journal of Neuroscience, investigators not only located the precise spot in the brain that helps us overcome our EEB, but — remarkably — proved the point by figuring out a way to stimulate that spot artificially and dial empathy up or down.

 

The investigators — a multinational team from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, Italy; the University of Vienna; the University of Zurich; and the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany — recruited 72 subjects, broke them down into pairs, and sat them in front of computer screens out of each other’s sight. All of the volunteers were shown a pair of pictures. The picture on the left was the one they were supposed to focus on; the one on the right revealed the image their partners were supposed to be focusing on. Sometimes, both pictures were pleasant: a swan, a bunny, a rose, a cotton ball. Sometimes they were both unpleasant: a cow tongue, a stinkbug, liver, maggots. Sometimes one person got a nice one and the other got a nasty one.

 

At the same time the subjects were focusing on their picture (while at least peripherally seeing the other person’s), they also slipped one hand into a box and were given something to touch that corresponded to image they had been assigned — toy worms for the maggots, toy slime for the liver, synthetic fur for the bunny, a feather for the swan. When they were done, they were told to rate how bad or good they felt, from a low of –10, up through 0, to a high of +10. They were also told to rate how they believed their partner felt.

 

Consistently, when the paired images were concordant — both pleasant or both unpleasant — the subjects did a good job of intuiting their partner’s feelings. When the images were discordant, however — one good or one bad — they tended to misfire. Someone who had seen maggots would lowball how snuggly a partner who had seen the bunny felt; the person who had seen the bunny, meanwhile, would underestimate the level of disgust the partner who saw the maggots was experiencing.

 

O.K., so it’s hard to feel vicariously cuddly when you’re feeling personally revolted. The research proved that unsurprising  premise. In other trials, however, the investigators went further, running the same experiments, but this time scanning the subjects’ brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In general, they found that when people were asked to judge discordant feelings — I feel pleasant, you probably don’t — there was a spike of activity in a region known as the right supramarginal gyrus (rSMG), located near the middle of the brain, just aft of center. When they were judging concordant feelings, the rSMG stayed quieter

.

That told the scientists where the empathic error was playing out, but it didn’t tell them how it was working: Did activity in the rSMG cause the egocentric bias, or was it trying to suppress it? In other words, if the rSMG stayed quiet, would our empathic skills be better or even worse?

 

To answer that final question, the investigators actually did hush the rSMG. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation — a noninvasive scalp instrument that delivers low bursts of magnetism to targeted spots in the brain — they could fleetingly reduce rSMG activity, and when they did, the subjects indeed performed worse on the tests, resulting in what the researchers called “a substantial increase” in ecocentric bias. “The results of our study,” said SISSA neuroscientist Georgia Silani, in a release that accompanied the paper, “show for the first time the physiological markers of highly adaptive social mechanisms, such as the ability to suppress our own emotional states in order to correctly evaluate those of others.”

 

But there was a wrinkle in the study — and an encouraging one, at least in terms of the potential for human empathy. It turned out that it wasn’t magnetic intervention alone that could make the subjects less aware of their partners’ feelings. Reducing the time they were exposed to the images and the tactile stimuli and rushing them to guess about their partner’s emotions did too. The more time and attention they could devote to thinking empathically, the more sensitive they became. That’s good news for the rest of us. In an everyday world in which we are free to make such an extra interpersonal effort without a handful of slime or a screenful of maggots getting in the way, greater empathy should come more easily still.



Jim Manske's insight:

Here's my take away:  "The more time and attention they could devote to thinking empathically, the more sensitive they became. "  This goes to the power of both intention (to connect in the service of compassionate giving and receiving) and attention (in the present moment)...

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8 Life-Changing Lessons from TED Talks on How to Be Happy

8 Life-Changing Lessons from TED Talks on How to Be Happy | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Ever wonder if you could make yourself happier? You can. Here's how.
Jim Manske's insight:
What if happiness is our basic nature, and all the techniques and technologies to "make us happy" work because they support a simple recognition of Who we actually are?
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The Age of Wind and Solar Is Closer Than You Think

The Age of Wind and Solar Is Closer Than You Think | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Renewable energy, spurred by a crisis in climate, may usurp fossil fuels by mid-century
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Will Maui lead the way and become the first island to demonstrate that we can do this?
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The 5 Happiest Countries And What Makes Them So Happy - PsyBlog

The 5 Happiest Countries And What Makes Them So Happy - PsyBlog | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Only one country in North America is amongst the world's happiest.

Jim Manske's insight:

Favorite quote from the article: “The aspiration of society is the flourishing of its members. This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being. It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health. -Jeffrey Sachs

 

Who doesn't want happiness?

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4 daily habits that will make you happier

4 daily habits that will make you happier | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Happiness comes from your own actions.
Jim Manske's insight:
What's going well right now?
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How Fear Melts Away When We Stop Resisting the Present

How Fear Melts Away When We Stop Resisting the Present | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Fear triggers our fight or flight response and causes us to struggle and resist the present. What if, instead of running from fear, you stuck with it?
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Vulnerable honesty | Yoram Mosenzon | TEDxAmsterdamED - YouTube

In this funny, personal, and honest look at the way we as humans approach communication, Yoram Mosenzon teaches us the difference between true honesty, and w...
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Aung San Suu Kyi on What It Takes to Be Free from Fear

Aung San Suu Kyi on What It Takes to Be Free from Fear | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Fearlessness may be a gift, but perhaps most precious is the courage acquired through endeavor, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions, courage that could be described as ‘grace under pressure’ — grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure. Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man’s self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.
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Instilling empathy among doctors pays off for patient care - CNN.com

Instilling empathy among doctors pays off for patient care - CNN.com | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
This skill is increasingly considered essential to establishing trust, the foundation of a good doctor-patient relationship.
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The 5 Daily Rituals That Will Make You Happy

The 5 Daily Rituals That Will Make You Happy | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
You know what percentage of people are really happy? Not “oh, life is pretty good”, I mean people who are flourishing. They feel their lives are fulfilling, meaningful and brimming with potential.

 

17%.


Only 17 percent of the adult population is said to be flourishing, fulfilling their potential for happiness, success, and productivity. Less than one in five. And the question that follows is, of course: how do I become one of those people?


I’ve been accumulating the research on happiness for a while. Good news is: there’s a lot of it. Bad news is: who can remember to do all that stuff?
Well, one expert finally put it together into a simple 5-part formula.


Christine Carter is a sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center which studies the psychology and neuroscience of well-being. She looked at the research and exhaustively compiled it into her book, The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work.

 

So what’s this formula to find your “sweet spot” of happiness — without completely overhauling your life?


Take Recess + Switch Autopilot On + Unshackle Yourself + Cultivate Relationships + Tolerate Some Discomfort = The Sweet Spot

 

Okay, but what do we actually need to do?

 

Don’t worry; it’s pretty easy. Let’s break it down:
 
1) Take Recess

Most of what we do all day is “instrumental.” What’s that mean? It gets something done. It’s practical. It achieves a goal.

 

But these days we seem to be doing more and more that’s instrumental and a lot less that’s just fun. We forget to play. Is that so bad?

 

Actually, you have no idea how bad it is. Noted psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi tried an experiment: he told people to just do instrumental activities all day long. No fun allowed, literally.
The old saying is “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It’s more accurate to say, “All work and no play gives Jack a clinical anxiety disorder in under 48 hours.” Seriously.

 

Csikszentmihalyi unintentionally induced textbook cases of generalized anxiety disorder in people simply by instructing his subjects as follows: From the time you wake up until 9: 00 p.m., he explained, “We would like you to act in a normal way, doing all the things you have to do, but not doing anything that is ‘play’ or ‘non-instrumental.’” …Following these instructions for just forty-eight hours produced symptoms of serious anxiety in research subjects—restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension—all by eliminating flow and play from their lives. In other words, we get anxious when we aren’t having any fun.


After 2 days he ended the experiment because of the extreme negative effects it was having on the test subjects.


So by trying to be so productive and get so much done you’re probably stressing yourself out. What to do?


Schedule a little bit of fun every 90 minutes or so. Nothing productive allowed.


Via The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work:
Today, take a good old-fashioned recess in the middle of the day. Go ahead and do your hardest or most dreaded work— or whatever you need to do— but after about sixty to ninety minutes of focused attention, honor your ultradian rhythms and take a break. Rest… The only rule is that what you do during recess must be restful or playful; it can’t be “instrumental” in any way.


You can actually get more done sometimes by being a bit of a slacker. Vacations make you more productive.


By working 60 hour weeks you can get a lot done. But when you work that hard for too long, your productivity drops off. After 2 months of 60 hours a week you’ll actually accomplish less than if you’d only been working 40 hours a week.

 

One study, on construction projects, found that “where a work schedule of 60 or more hours per week is continued longer than about two months, the cumulative effect of decreased productivity will cause a delay in the completion date beyond that which could have been realized with the same crew size on a 40-hour week.”

 

You might be worried that taking breaks will mean you still get less done. But we’ve got a solution for that.
 
2) Switch Autopilot On

You spend 40% of the day on autopilot, engaging in habits, not actual decisions.


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.


And we get more done when we’re on autopilot, actually. Not having to make decisions uses less willpower.


So start building better habits. You don’t “decide” to brush your teeth, it’s just something you do and it’s not a struggle. With more habits like this you can get a lot more done in less time with little stress.
At first, just try little habits. Connect them to things that are already part of your routine.


“After I start the dishwasher, I will read one sentence from a book.”
“After I walk in my door from work, I will get out my workout clothes.”
“After I put my head on the pillow, I will think of one good thing from my day.”
Another easy way to break in a new good habit is to use what happiness expert Shawn Achor calls the “20 second rule.”


Anything you want to accomplish, find a way to make it 20 seconds easier to get started on (like putting your workout clothes next to the bed). Anything you want to stop doing, make it 20 seconds harder to start (hide the candy where it’s hard to reach).


From my interview with Shawn:
If you can make the positive habit three to 20 seconds easier to start, you’re likelihood of doing it rises dramatically. And you can do the same thing by flipping it for negative habits. Watching too much television?

 

Merely take out the batteries of the remote control creating a 20 second delay and it dramatically decreases the amount of television people will watch.


You’re having more fun and becoming more efficient by turning routine tasks into habits. Great. What else will bring you more happiness. The answer is “less.”
 
3) Unshackle Yourself

Do less.

 

Really, you can. Christine puts it pretty simply:
Decide on your five top priorities and say “no” to everything else.
We spend so much time reacting rather than following through with our goals.


Whenever I tell people they need to do less the reaction is pretty much like I told them to grow wings and fly: “That’s impossible!”

 

But then I ask them 4 questions about a task and very, very rarely can they honestly answer “yes” to each one:
Does this thing really need to be done at all?
Do you absolutely have to be the one to do it?
Does it need to be done perfectly or will “pretty good” actually be enough?
Does it need to be done right now?


Like I said, very few tasks get a “yes” for all four. And that means you can either ignore it, delegate it, do it quickly or make it one of tomorrow’s top five.


You can do less. And less means less stress and more time for fun.

So that means less on your plate. So what should you fill your plate with?
 
4) Cultivate Relationships

Christine pulls a quote I love from the wonderful book Triumphs of Experience:
…there are two pillars of happiness revealed by the seventy-five-year-old Grant Study…. One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.


If you ask psychology researchers, economists, insurance adjusters and old people they will all agree on the single most important key to happiness: relationships.

 

That’s not hard to believe. What is surprising is just how far that truth extends.

 

Michael Norton and Elizabeth Dunn (authors of the book Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending showed that merely talking to the barista at Starbucks makes us happier.

Researchers sent people into a Starbucks with five dollars each to buy themselves a latte. Half were instructed to get their beverage as fast as they could, to “get in, get out, go on with the day.” The other half were instructed to “have a genuine interaction with the cashier ”— to smile and initiate a brief conversation. The folks who smiled at the barista left Starbucks feeling more cheerful. In the words of the study authors

 

Michael Norton and Elizabeth Dunn: “Efficiency, it seems, is overrated.”
So you can do that if you’re a daily Starbucks drinker but just like with networking, the easiest way to work on relationships is to first strengthen the ones you already have.

 

Little cracks appear in our relationships all the time, and while we can certainly spend a lot of time and energy examining fissures and assigning blame— or pretending they aren’t there or never happened—often the easiest thing is to just repair the crack. Without getting into it again, without raising past hurts, without projecting into the future. Often a hug and an “I love you”— or an apology and a heartfelt expression of gratitude— is all it takes.


You don’t need to buy gifts or go out of your way. Just give your attention. Listen. Ask about the good things that have happened to them lately and be happy for them. It’s that simple.


Okay, last one coming up. And it’s a bit ironic. Want life to happier? Then make it a little harder…
 
5) Tolerate Some Discomfort

Many of us come home from work and think, “I just want to sit down and do nothing.” 


And that’s understandable if you’re overworked and burned out. But “doing nothing” is really not what will make you happier.

 

Sitting on the couch watching TV does not make your life better:
…heavy TV viewers, and in particular those with significant opportunity cost of time, report lower life satisfaction. Long TV hours are also linked to higher material aspirations and anxiety.

 

Research shows we’re generally not inclined to do what makes us happiest, actually. We do what’s easy.

Studies have found that American teenagers are two and a half times more likely to experience elevated enjoyment when engaged in a hobby than when watching TV, and three times more likely when playing a sport.

 

And yet here’s the paradox: These same teenagers spend four times as many hours watching TV as they do engaging in sports or hobbies. So what gives? Or, as psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi put it more eloquently, “Why would we spend four times more time doing something that has less than half the chance of making us feel good?” The answer is that we are drawn—powerfully, magnetically—to those things that are easy, convenient, and habitual, and it is incredibly difficult to overcome this inertia. Active leisure is more enjoyable, but it almost always requires more initial effort—getting the bike out of the garage, driving to the museum, tuning the guitar, and so on.

 

One of the things research has consistently shown makes us happy is striving. Making progress in things we find meaningful is incredibly motivating.

 

Engaging in things you’re good at has been shown to powerfully boost happiness. People who deliberately exercised their “signature strengths” on a daily basis became significantly happier for months.
Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:
When 577 volunteers were encouraged to pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed than control groups. And these benefits lasted: Even after the experiment was over, their levels of happiness remained heightened a full month later. Studies have shown that the more you use your signature strengths in daily life, the happier you become.

 

But how do you prevent this from becoming yet another stressful chore?
This isn’t your boss forcing you to do something. This is you choosing to push yourself so you get better.

 

Navy SEALs treat problems like a game. Similarly, Shawn Achor says to see obstacles as a challenge, not a threat. And Christine agrees.

 

When we use our minds to “reappraise our stress response,” as scientists call it, from stress to challenge, we can actually change the typical physiological response itself from a stress response to a challenge response… Researchers have found that when people reframe the meaning of their physiological response to stress as something that is improving their performance, they feel more confident and less anxious.

 

Moreover, their physical response to the stress actually changes from one that is damaging to one that is helpful.


Let’s tie it all together into something simple that we can use.
 
Sum Up

Here’s Christine’s five step formula:
1. Take Recess: Going two days without anything fun creates anxiety. Take breaks.
2.  Switch Autopilot On: Make unpleasant tasks into habits. Tie them to things you already do.
3. Unshackle Yourself: Decide your five priorities for the day and say NO to everything else. Does it have to be done? Do you have to do it? Does it have to be done perfectly? Does it have to be done now? Probably not.
4. Cultivate Relationships: They are the single biggest happiness booster. Celebrate the successes of those you love.
5. Tolerate Some Discomfort: Push to keep getting better. Mastery brings joy. Striving creates smiles.

 

One of the secrets of the happiest people isn’t merely that their brains are wired that way, but they also engage in activities on a daily basis that keep them flourishing.

 

Try the above five things on a daily basis for a few weeks and see if they can make you happy. As Aristotle said:
!We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Jim Manske's insight:

May we all become the 17%...after all, it is one of the things that we all want!  To be happy, to be fulfilled, to flourish and thrive!!!

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Nich Rogers's curator insight, March 18, 10:17 PM
Great simple insights anyone can do. Yes, that's YOU
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Understanding The Peace Code In The Human Brain

Understanding The Peace Code In The Human Brain | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
19 minutes | Ground-breaking discoveries about early childhood and the human brain have offered vital clues about the roots of human violence and social disharmony. Our brains’ empathy centres grow – or fail...
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No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos & Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos & Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

Parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, and anyone else in frequent contact with kids can all stand to learn more about how to stay calm. No-Drama Discipline offers example-backed tools to help us discipline children in a supportive and lasting way.

 

This is not the first book that Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson have written together. Their earlier book was the bestselling The Whole-Brain Child, and they use concepts from that first book in their second. About the brain, they write that in addition to it having a left and right side, the brain of a child also has a lower portion and upper portion. The “downstairs” brain is where children’s emotions, basic instincts, and basic functions are controlled. This part of the brain begins to work right at birth. The “upstairs” brain, meanwhile, is where reasoning, thought, conscience, and understanding develop.

 

This part is not very well developed at birth, and may not become fully developed until the person is in her mid-twenties. However, the upstairs brain is continually growing as the child grows, so it makes sense that we would try to influence it according to our values.

 

The book reminds us right at the beginning that the worddiscipline comes from the Latin disciplina, which means “teaching, learning, and giving instruction.” Often when we think of discipline we think of punishment. But this is the crux of the book: to get us to change behavior by teaching our children rather than punishing them.

In order to do this, the essential theme is to connect with a child, then redirect their thinking.

 

Connect here means to establish rapport, get on the kid’s level, understand their upset or motivation, and get them to communicate. Redirect, as the authors use it, ultimately means to help a child develop self-control and to have a moral compass that guides their decisions.

We have all likely experienced this: When someone is emotionally upset, it becomes hard to communicate with them. After we console and empathize with the person, it becomes much easier to talk about change or resolution.

 

We want our children to cooperate by changing bad behavior to good, and we might sometimes think that yelling at them, or putting them in a timeout, is the way to go. But what we want for the longer term is that they cooperate with our expectations, and do it because they understand why a certain behavior is desirable — not do it just because they want to avoid punishment.

 

One of the features I liked best about the book is that the authors freely admit to their own parenting mistakes, and with that admission, allow us the same privilege to make mistakes. We should accept our errors and then work to repair any damage we might have done. They acknowledge that there are just going to be circumstances in which we will not be able to control ourselves. In that sense the book gives something akin to dieting advice: It is normal to go off a diet on occasion, but we should get right back on it as soon as we can.

 

Another feature that appealed to me is the notion that we can confront a child’s misbehavior with an attempt to understand the motivation behind it — and get on the child’s level to establish together a better way to behave in that situation. Before we can do that, however, we must help the child become ready to talk about it. The authors point out that we, the adults, must also become ready, by being composed and calm.

 

The book is easy to read, stylistically. It is almost as if the authors are presenting a program to a large audience, complete with graphics, stories, and audience participation (that is where we, the readers, admit to all the mistakes we have made in parenting). There are funny moments, too, in the real-life examples throughout the text.

 

While the book is most helpful to dealing with younger children, and its emphasis is there, it also has applicability to older children and even adults. Picture, if you will, a couple about to get into a heated “discussion” about overspending, or about behavior at a party. Instead of allowing it to turn into a battle, a spouse with the skills from No-Drama Discipline can turn it into a calm and supportive — yet effective — conversation instead.

 

The book includes a so-called refrigerator sheet to keep the tips in front of you at home. The sheet alone will not teach what the entire book does, but it can help remind you of what you’ve learned from the stories and examples in the larger text.

 

There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the book. I enjoyed the writing style and found it easy to understand. Much of it “hit home” with situations I have faced — and I suspect most readers will have faced them as well.

 

After learning some ways to enhance your childcare skills and to keep things calm, not only will the kids in your life behave better, but you’ll be happier and less stressed, too.


No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
Bantam Books, September 2014
Hardcover, 288 pages
$26

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A Mindful Minute: How to Observe a Train of Anxious Thoughts (Illustrated)

A Mindful Minute: How to Observe a Train of Anxious Thoughts (Illustrated) | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Kids have anxious thoughts all the time…

“I’m going to fail math and never get into college.”

“I’m totally screwing up this speech right now, and everyone knows it.”

“What if I don’t get asked to the dance? I’ll be humiliated for life.”

Research shows us that anxious thoughts are often blown out of proportion, skewed, or just plain wrong. Nonetheless, thoughts have power. Why? Because thoughts influence feelings and behaviors.

A simple thought passing through a child’s mind can cause them to feel scared, worried, or sad; it can cause them to sulk, withdraw, or act out. Here’s this point illustrated another way:

Thoughts → Feelings → Behavior

Example:
“No one likes me.” → Sadness and embarrassment → Skipping school

Anxious thoughts can also become habitual and tip kids into a downward spiral of negativity.

So, what if we could teach our kids to take some of that power back? What if we could teach them to pick and choose which thoughts they “listen” or react to? We can. The first step in this process is the focus of today’s mindful minute exercise on thought observation.

Why is mindfulness good?

In the late 1970s, developmental psychologist John Flavell gave a name to the idea that humans are aware of their own ability to think. Cognition about our own cognition (or thinking about thinking) was labeled metacognition.

As metacognitive beings, we have the capacity to disentangle ourselves from our own thinking with the use of mindfulness meditation. According to a pioneer in the field, Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is a mental practice of remaining present in the moment in a nonjudgmental way. At the heart of this practice is the idea that you are not your thoughts.

With this in mind, the goal for our children is to learn to observe their thoughts as something separate from themselves. In this, it’s easier to see that thoughts are transient; children also learn they have a choice as to whether to act upon their thoughts.

A substantial body of research shows that mindfulness practices have incredible benefits for children. Here’s a small sample of findings:

Research shows that teaching children mindfulness skills leads to greater well-being and less stress.
Research shows that mindfulness improves children’s ability to bounce back from challenges.
Research shows that children enjoy learning mindfulness skills; in one study, 74% of kids said they would continue to practice mindfulness after their training was over.
How do you practice observing your own thoughts?

Teaching kids to disentangle themselves from their own cognition seems a bit complex, but let’s not underestimate our kids—they are extraordinarily sophisticated and self-aware. It’s our responsibility to tap into this self-awareness and leverage kids’ love of creativity to make lessons relevant. In other words, use language that makes sense and make it fun!

Try the GoZen! Train of Thoughts exercise:

Teach your child that thoughts are like trains that come and go through a busy station; we are simply standing on platform watching the trains go by. To practice, ask about a recent anxious thought your child had. Now, have your child visualize the train (thought) coming into the station.
Explain that when the train (thought) arrives, sometimes it just passes by and sometimes it stops for a while. When the train (thought) hangs out at the station for a while or remains in our mind, we can start to feel different emotions. It’s OK to feel things; that’s no problem. This is a good time to breathe in deeply and breathe out. Focus on the breath and not the train, because soon it is going to pass by.
Have your child “watch” as the train leaves. Explain that in time, just like the train, our thoughts move on and we stay behind.


 

This simple exercise can teach our kids we don’t have to react to every thought. We can simply observe them. In doing this, the goal is not to change our thoughts, but rather to change our relationship with them.
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The Opportunities For Empathy In The Classroom: Terry Hieck

The Opportunities For Empathy In The Classroom:  Terry Hieck | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

 

So much talk about empathy in education recently. Why? What’s the big idea? 

 

In “The Role of Empathy in Learning,” I wrote:

 

“The role of empathy in learning has to do with the flow of both information and creativity. A dialogic interaction with the world around us requires us to understand ourselves by understanding the needs and condition of those around us. It also encourages us to take collective measurements rather than those singular, forcing us into an intellectual interdependence that catalyzes other subtle but powerful tools of learning.”

 

But where does it come from? What causes it? What are the authentic sources of empathy in a classroom?

 

Empathy Source: Analysis of “Other”

 

Whether by close academic examination, more personal “evaluation,” or some kind of analysis that’s in-between, “other” lays the groundwork for empathy.

 

The act of an infant reaching out for your face as you hold, or making eye contact with someone during a conference, or even reading literate all are framed by empathy–or suffer tremendously without it. There is a moment when one “thing” recognizes another, followed by some momentary burst of analysis. Who is this person? Are they a threat, an opportunity, or neither? What do I need from them, and them from me?

 

What social contracts or etiquette are at work here that I need to be aware of and honor?

 

Literary study is probably the most iconic case for empathy in traditional learning environment. A novel requires the reader see the world through one (or more) of the character’s eyes–to understand their motives, and draw close to their worldview so that can have a fictional-but-still-parallel experience.

 

Empathy Source: Your interactions with them

 

This is a powerful opportunity to model empathy. Reinforcement of desired behaviors. Socratic discussion. Grading writing. Evaluating projects. Missing homework. Behavior problems. All of the dozens of interactions you have with students on a daily basis are opportunities for them to see what empathy looks like. 

 

This doesn’t mean they necessarily will, in turn, use it with others, but there’s no chance at all for that to happen if they don’t even know what they’re looking for. Your empathy with them may be the only empathy they’ve ever seen.

 

Empathy Source: Their interactions with one another

 

Another opportunity to see empathy in action is in working with one another—quick elbow-partner activities, group projects, peer response, group discussions and more. Sharing sentence stems that promote empathetic dialogue can be helpful to students—like training whees so they know where to start.

 

“I can tell you’ve…that must have…” as in, “I can tell you’ve worked hard on this writing. That must’ve taken self-determination, and even some courage.”

 

Empathy Source: How content is framed

 

How content is framed is another opportunity for empathy. For example, using essential questions that require, reward, and promote empathy can turn a unit into a study on what other people think, why they think it, and what they feel? Grant Wiggins has held up “What’s wrong with Holden Caufield?” from The Catcher In The Rye as a powerful essential question, one that requires students to examine another person in an alien context, make deep inferences based on schema that is (obviously) personal, and then—hopefully—empathize with a fictional character not as a quick writing prompt or “higher-level question,” but a 6-week study.

 

Studying fiction—or studying fiction well is an exercise in empathy as well. Studying history without empathy is like turning our shared human legacy, full of wonderful nuance and narrative and scandal and hope—into a dry, chronologically-based FAQ. Which sucks.

 

Empathy Source: Where learning goals come from

 

The relationship between learning goals and empathy may not be clear, but what we choose to study and why we choose to study it are—ideally—primarily human pursuits. When these are handled outside of the classroom, e.g., in the form of a curriculum standards, scopes-and-sequences, maps, units, power standards and the lessons that promote their study, this places the institution immediately at odds with the student, and sterilizes the learning experience.

 

When students are able to look to other schools, other classrooms, their own lives, or even non-academic “fields” to see how experts and passionate creatives identify, value, and improve their own knowledge and skills, it can help to tilt the learning experience to something emotionally immediate and relevant and authentic—fertile ground for empathy.

 

Empathy Source: Transfer of knowledge

What do we do with what we know? What happens when I try to take what I learned here, and use it there? What are my thinking habits? What are the chances I’ll make this transfer unprompted, now and in the future?

 

These questions surrounding students’ transfer of knowledge can all benefit from empathy, and promote its growth. Understanding is a problematic word, but let’s consider for a moment two kinds of understanding—that which is demonstrated within the context of a lesson or unit, and that which is able to leave this fragile academic bubble and can survive on its own outside of it. This kind of movement isn’t simple, or necessarily natural when they learning content and goals are all academic.

 

In The Courage To Think Critically, I was theorized as much:

“To think critically about something is to claim to first circle its meaning entirely—to walk all the way around it so that you understand it in a way that’s uniquely you. That’s not academic vomit but fully human. After circling the meaning of whatever you’re thinking critically about—a navigation necessarily done with bravado and purpose—you then analyze the thing.

 

See its parts, its form, its function, and its context. After this kind of survey and analysis you can come to evaluate it–bring to bear your own distinctive cognition on the thing so that you can point out flaws, underscore bias, emphasize merit—to get inside the mind of the author, designer, creator, or clockmaker and critique his work.”

Empathy Source: Movement Within & Across Learning Taxonomies

Another example? Understanding by Design’s “6 Facets of Understanding.” Note the progression:

 

6 Facets of Understanding–Peaking With Empathy & Self-Knowledge

 

Facet 1: Explain

Provide thorough and justifiable accounts of phenomena, facts, and data.

 

Facet 2: Interpret

Examples: Tell meaningful stories, offer apt translations, provide a revealing historical or personal dimension to ideas and events; make subjects personal or accessible through images, anecdotes, analogies, and models.

 

Facet 3: Apply

Examples: Effectively use and adapt what they know in diverse contexts.

 

 

Facet 4: Have perspective

Examples: See and hear points of view through critical eyes and ears; see the big picture.

 

Facet 5: Empathize

Examples: Find value in what others might find odd, alien, or implausible; perceive sensitively on the basis of prior indirect experience.

 

Facet 6: Have self-knowledge

Examples: Perceive the personal style, prejudices, projections, and habits of mind that both shape and impede our own understanding; they are aware of what they do not understand and why understanding is so hard.”

The movement in the 6 Facets here is from outward patterns to inward patterns. Explaining, interpretation, and application are, in large part, outward. The facets then tend inward—perspective, empathize, and self-knowledge. The lesson here–or one lesson of many–is that understanding is a deeply personal process. It is a matter of knowledge, but also identity, perspective, and empathy.

 

Our TeachThought Learning Taxonomy includes domains of “Self,” “Interdependence,” “Function,” and “Abstraction,” implying the human, emotional, and connected nature of learning. Learning is about experimenting through, playing with, and otherwise coming to internalize new information and perspective. Knowledge-holding is only one part of “knowing.”

 

Empathy provides not only provides a common ground between people–and a human tone–but also an authentic need to know what we know, and use that knowledge to improve the interactions we value the most.

Jim Manske's insight:

My heart broke open when I read:  "This doesn’t mean they necessarily will, in turn, use it with others, but there’s no chance at all for that to happen if they don’t even know what they’re looking for. Your empathy with them may be the only empathy they’ve ever seen."

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A teacher's knowledge of the six facets of understanding is necessary for a teacher to know that the student comprehends and understands.

 

If a teacher evaluates a student and finds that they need additional help, they can alter teaching to better relate to the student in need.

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Go With Your Gut | Brain Blogger

Go With Your Gut | Brain Blogger | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Jim Manske's insight:
Fascinating links of interdependence! I have noticed a profound increase in well-being as I have increased my consumption of kimchi, kefir, cultured butter, and other probiotics...
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An Ecomodernist Manifesto

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A bit of a long read, and I found it stimulating, motivating, clarifying and hopeful...how about you?

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Chemists' Feat Hailed As Major Breakthrough

Chemists' Feat Hailed As Major Breakthrough | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
In what's being called a win-win for the environment and the production of renewable energy, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, have achieved a major breakthrough in artificial...
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The Link Between Exercise and Happiness [INFOGRAPHIC] - Goodnet

The Link Between Exercise and Happiness [INFOGRAPHIC] - Goodnet | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Happify delves into the science of how getting fit can boost your mood.
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2015’s Most Electrifying Emerging Tech? World Economic Forum Releases Annual List

2015’s Most Electrifying Emerging Tech? World Economic Forum Releases Annual List | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Writing lists forecasting technology is a bit like writing science fiction. Prerequisites include intimate knowledge of the bleeding edge...
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Restaurant Allows Customers to Wash Dishes for a Free Meal

At one restaurant in Pennsylvania, you don't need cash or a credit card to pay for your meal. According to Penn Live, Healthy World Cafe functions on a "pay-how-you-can" model which allows customers to eat for free "in exchange for volunteering their time." This means customers can sweep the floors, do dishes, or break down boxes for a hot plate of food.

 

Healthy World Cafe started out as a pop-up concept at a local church but will open in more permanent digs April 6. Manager Liza Naylor notes that the goal of the cafe is for every customer to eat and for them to eat healthy. She adds that not everyone volunteers their time for a meal.

 

Nearly 80 percent of customers pay for their meals, while 20 percent eat for free and volunteer. Diners can also "pay-it-foward and cover the cost of other diners' meals." As for the food, the cafe buys its ingredients from "local famers and purveyors." The menu itself tends to lean vegan and vegetarian because those dishes are the least expensive. However, there are meat options too. Diners can expect dishes like chicken salad sandwiches on foccacia, swiss chard quiches, and Middle Eastern bean salad.

 

Healthy World Cafe is far from the first restaurant to accept alternative forms of payment. In February, a pop-up cafe in London accepted hugs as payment for cookies and tea. McDonald's launched a promotion in January where customers can pay for meals with "lovin'" — such as giving someone a compliment or taking a selfie — in place of real money. cash or a credit card to pay for your meal.

 

According to Penn Live, Healthy World Cafe functions on a "pay-how-you-can" model which allows customers to eat for free "in exchange for volunteering their time." This means customers can sweep the floors, do dishes, or break down boxes for a hot plate of food. Healthy World Cafe started out as a pop-up concept at a local church but will open in more permanent digs April 6. Manager Liza Naylor notes that the goal of the cafe is for every customer to eat and for them to eat healthy. She adds that not everyone volunteers their time for a meal. Nearly 80 percent of customers pay for their meals, while 20 percent eat for free and volunteer.

 

Diners can also "pay-it-foward and cover the cost of other diners' meals." As for the food, the cafe buys its ingredients from "local famers and purveyors." The menu itself tends to lean vegan and vegetarian because those dishes are the least expensive. However, there are meat options too. Diners can expect dishes like chicken salad sandwiches on foccacia, swiss chard quiches, and Middle Eastern bean salad.

 

Healthy World Cafe is far from the first restaurant to accept alternative forms of payment. In February, a pop-up cafe in London accepted hugs as payment for cookies and tea. McDonald's launched a promotion in January where customers can pay for meals with "lovin'" — such as giving someone a compliment or taking a selfie — in place of real money.

Jim Manske's insight:

An experiment in compassionate economics...imagine a world based on an economy of needs!

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17 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself

17 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
It’s time to befriend yourself and start showing yourself kindness. Here are 17 ways to be kind to yourself.
Jim Manske's insight:
Favorite line: There’s only one person in the world you’ll always have a relationship with, and that’s yourself. Therefore, you better start making sure that you’re a good companion to yourself. Live your best life by being kind to yourself.
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Compassion Is A Strength, Not A Weakness

Compassion Is A Strength, Not A Weakness | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

We are all a part of a mindful revolution.

As a mind-body medicine physician, it fills me with hope to watch the “mindful revolution” occurring in the business world. In the last six months we have see the the theme of mindfulness on the cover of Time magazine and hearing about how numerous business schools are incorporating mindfulness based training programs into curriculum. You may even be a part of this mindful living community because you heard me speak at your company on the neuroscience behind mindfulness.Self-compassion and compassion towards others are two of the steps I discuss my mindful living program, “Mindset Matters”. The same question arises from corporate and coaching clients alike.


Via Edwin Rutsch
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Remembering Marshall Rosenberg | Mindful

Remembering Marshall Rosenberg | Mindful | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

On Saturday, February 7th, Marshall Rosenberg, a psychologist, founder of Nonviolent Communication(NVC), and a pioneer in the compassion movement, passed away. The impact Marshall had on our culture is immeasurable as the ripple effects continue to be felt moment-to-moment through thousands and thousands of people.

 

He has been a great influence on my personal and professional work, helping provide an essential framework for understanding our emotional needs and the needs of others. In a world that can often feel disconnected, he leaves us with a wholeheartedly effective path toward connection and healing.

 

One of many examples came from his work in the 1980s when Marshall taught NVC to Palestinian refugees. On his way to the camp he was greeted with people shouting at him: “Assassin! Murderer!” Although, naturally, he had the inkling to leave, he instead engaged compassion, focusing his attention on what the men were feeling in that moment, which opened the door for a compassionate dialogue to ensue. As the story goes, he was later invited to Ramadan dinner.

 

Marshall taught us the essential truth that underneath it all, we have the same needs: to feel cared about and understood. We all want to feel safe and have a sense of belonging. He helped us see the humanity behind each and every one of us no matter our background. Even with our enemies he calls for a radically different kind of communication: “Our best protection is to communicate with the people we’re most of afraid of. Nothing else will work.”

 

Thank you, Marshall, for the compassion you taught us, the lives you have touched and will continue to touch through the rest of us.

Jim Manske's insight:

Sweet to see this acknowledgement...

 

It leaves me wondering how many thousands of people continue to benefit from Marshall's gifts to the world...

 

I learned that there will be a memorial service soon:

 

From the President of the Board for CNVC:

 

Dear all,

On the 29th of this month a Celebration of Marshall Rosenberg’s life and teaching will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the United States.

Valentina, Marshall’s children and Rabbi Deborah Brin will be organising the gathering, which will begin at 4pm, local time.


We imagine many people would like to be a part of this event and invite you to find ways to do so where you live, as a form of strengthening your community ties and commitment to living nonviolently.

If you have a project activity, a community gathering or a training on that day, maybe you would like to incorporate this event in your day in some way. If you are free you might find this is a meaningful day to gather with community members and commemorate what we received from Marshall and it’s meaning in our lives.

This might also be an opportunity to invite donations to your work and projects locally. Donations to CNVC would also be warmly received, and can be made here: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/cnvc

 



The ceremony in Albuquerque will be live streamed, so that everyone who has access to the internet will be able to watch as it happens. 


I am touched once again by the desire of Marshall’s wife and family to seek ways to include the entire community in their mourning and commemorating a husband, father and friend. The 29th is an invitation for all those whose lives have been so enriched by his path and heart to gather in his memory and celebrate his spirit.

In gratitude,

Dominic

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Peacemaker leaves lasting legacy of Nonviolent Communication

International peacemaker and founder of the Centre for Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg passed away last month. Daren De Witt recounts his remarkable life and how he helped spread Nonviolent Communication throughout the world
Jim Manske's insight:

Savoring that Marshall's legacy continues to be celebrated!

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Hawking: Our Aggression Will Destroy Humanity : DNews

Hawking: Our Aggression Will Destroy Humanity : DNews | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

When Stephen Hawking airs his opinion, whether it be about black holes, aliens, artificial intelligence or even Heaven, the world tends to take note. And this time the renowned British theoretical physics professor has gone on the record with a warning: if we, as a civilization, do not check our aggressive ways, we will be doomed.

During a tour around London’s Science Museum, Hawking responded to a question from 24-year-old teacher Adaeze Uyanwah from Palmdale, Calif. Uyanwah won an international contest to be his guest of honor.

During the tour, Uyanwah asked that if Hawking could change one shortcoming humanity has, what would it be?

“The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression,” said Hawking. “It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, he focused on nuclear war being the trigger that “would be the end of civilization, and maybe the end of the human race.”

In an effort to counter human aggression, the 73-year-old said the quality he’d like to magnify is empathy, as “it brings us together in a peaceful, loving state.”

Hawking believes that, in addition to correcting this shortcoming, space exploration will ultimately save our species — it is our civilization’s "life insurance policy."

“I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be space and that it represents an important life insurance for our future survival, as it could prevent the disappearance of humanity by colonizing other planets,” he said.

The Daily Mail reports that Uyanwah entered the competition by producing a video describing her "perfect day" in London, beating 10,000 other contestants.

“It’s incredible to think that decades from now, when my grandchildren are learning Stephen Hawking’s theories in science class, I’ll be able to tell them I had a personal meeting with him and heard his views first hand. It’s something I’ll never forget,” she said.

Hawking is a bestselling author and currently has the position of Director of Research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology, University of Cambridge, UK. He is famed for his theoretical work on black hole radiation and significant contributions to the fields of cosmology, general relativity and quantum physics.

The 2014 movie “The Theory of Everything,” which dramatically portrays the physicist’s life, his early work and diagnosis of motor neuron disease (ALS), was honored at the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday night. British actor Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking.

Sources: The Daily Mail, BBC News, CNET

Jim Manske's insight:

My favorite, and most hopeful lin:  "n an effort to counter human aggression, the 73-year-old said the quality he’d like to magnify is empathy, as “it brings us together in a peaceful, loving state.”

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More than 1,000 Muslims form 'peace ring' around Oslo synagogue - Jewish World News

More than 1,000 Muslims form 'peace ring' around Oslo synagogue - Jewish World News | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it
Norway's Muslims offer symbolic protection for the city's Jewish community while condemning synagogue attack in neighboring Denmark last weekend.
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Julia Heisler's curator insight, February 22, 5:01 PM

This article depicts how more than 1,000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo's synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city's Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend. Chanting "No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia," Norway's Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend. Norway's Jewish community is one of Europe's smallest, numbering around 1,000, and the Muslim population, which has been growing steadily through immigration, is 150,000 to 200,000. Norway has a population of about 5.2 million. This relates to international relations because the article speaks of the relations between the Jewish and Muslim communities.