The tiny thing to remember that makes a huge difference.
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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.
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.
So what’s this formula to find your “sweet spot” of happiness — without completely overhauling your life?
Okay, but what do we actually need to do?
Don’t worry; it’s pretty easy. Let’s break it down:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Really, you can. Christine puts it pretty simply:
But then I ask them 4 questions about a task and very, very rarely can they honestly answer “yes” to each one:
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.
Michael Norton and Elizabeth Dunn: “Efficiency, it seems, is overrated.”
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.
Sitting on the couch watching TV does not make your life better:
Research shows we’re generally not inclined to do what makes us happiest, actually. We do what’s easy.
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.
But how do you prevent this from becoming yet another stressful chore?
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.
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:
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!!!
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
Kids have anxious thoughts all the time…
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."
A method using compassion, understanding, empathy, to transform wars and conflicts, promoting Human Capacity to contribute to the well being of others. MARSH...
In a book a father's son dies and it's a painful time in his life. He says in the book.
"What was even more painful were the things that good people were saying to me to make me feel better, that made me feel worse. So they were saying to him advice, how sad they felt. Because a lot of people mix up sympathy with empathy. So they say things like 'I'm sorry you feel that way.'
They don't realize that when they say that they are taking the focus away from the other person and putting it on their feelings. It is real important that we see the difference that we see the difference between sympathy and empathy."
Empathy is like being fully engrossed in a book.. So being engrossed in the other person.
Martin Buber calls this presence. It's the most precious gift one person can give to another..not judgementnot being self oriented and expressing our feelingsa precious gift Studying physiology makes empathy harder. This is a very powerful gift when we can give it. Studies of healing show that it's primary factor in healing, the degree to which the listener can just empathically connect and not try to direct, or analyse, give advice."
Via Edwin Rutsch
Marshall Rosenberg died on Saturday, February 7th. Rosenberg was the creator of Nonviolent Communication and the founder and director of educational services for the Center for Nonviolent Communication, which announced his death on their website. Dominic Barter, board president of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, said that Rosenberg “brought an inestimable sense of meaning and the potential for transformation to every area of your world… with utmost simplicity, humility and humanness.”
Jim Manske's insight:
My life has been forever altered in the direction of profound well-being because of dear Marshall. Although his body has died, his Spirit lives on in each of us who practice Nonviolent Communication.
Warm aloha, and a deep, deep bow of gratitude to my Friend and Teacher.
Michael Gazzaniga was still a graduate student when he helped make one of the most intriguing discoveries of modern neuroscience: that the two hemispheres of the brain not only have different functions, but also operate independently—the so-called split-brain phenomenon.
A lover of fine wine and conversation, Gazzaniga, today a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is also that rarity: a scientist whose life and work cross over into the humanities.
From his home in Santa Barbara, the author of Tales From Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience talks about where the next big breakthroughs in our understanding of the brain will come from, why a 14-day-old blastocyst isn't a human being, and how he came to meet Groucho Marx.
You are known for the discovery of the so-called "split brain." Remind us of the function of the brain's two hemispheres—and some of the popular misconceptions.
We worked on a number of patients with severe epilepsy. The surgery they underwent to control their epilepsy allowed us to study each half of the brain separately without one being influenced by the other. That was the advance. Classic neurology studied patients with holes in one side of their head from stroke or tumor or lesion and other kinds of traumas. Scientists knew that the left hemisphere was predominantly the verbal, analytic center, while the right hemisphere handled a constellation of things that were nonverbal.
But we were able to discover that the right hemisphere didn't know about the functions of the left hemisphere and the left hemisphere didn't have access to the information in the right hemisphere. Out of that came the left brain-right brain metaphor. It's been with our culture a long time and, of course, it got picked up and over-extended. I was skiing once in Colorado, struggling a bit, and some guy came zipping down the hill by me and he yelled: "Use your right brain!" [Laughs] Of course, it's a little more complex than that.
Your journey as a scientist began with an epiphany at Caltech 50 years ago. Take us back in time.
It was a wonderful experience. I was a new graduate student at Caltech at Roger Sperry's lab, and they were going to study this patient who was about to have his brain split. I was given the assignment of trying to figure out if there was going to be any impact on the behavior of the patient. There had been ten years of good animal research on both cats and monkeys, which showed the split-brain phenomenon. But people didn't think that could possibly be true in humans.
One of the reasons they didn't think so was that there had been a series of studies of patients in the 1940s who didn't really show anything after their callosum, the neural fibers connecting the two halves of the brain, was cut. This first patient who came to Caltech was going to give us another opportunity to look at that question. The reason a lowly grad student got the assignment was that no one thought that anything would happen. [Laughs]
We tested the patient preoperatively, showing that everything worked. If you put an object in one hand, the other hand knew about it. If you put an object in one visual field, the other visual field knew about it. Postoperatively, we rolled the patient back in for the exact same set of tests and, lo and behold! The patient could easily name objects put in his right hand, which projected to his left speaking hemisphere. But when the very same object was placed in the left hand, the patient said nothing was in his hand. The same was true for vision. It still takes my breath away.
Gazzaniga is clearly not an Irish name. Tell us about your family background and how it informs your life and work.
My heritage is Italian. My father's name was Dante Achilles Gazzaniga. His family was from a little town south of Pavia in Italy. In California, he became a physician and surgeon—a very dominant figure. He was very committed to education and educating his children. My mother loved social interaction, so there were always dinner parties at the house, friends over, and all that. There were five of us children, and we all went on to do good things. It was a no-nonsense sort of child raising. Lots of fun, but you worked all the time. You kept after whatever task you were doing. His children all reflected that, as do his grandchildren. [Laughs] I can't keep up with them.
You write that "the memorable peaks in life come scattered among the many hard and often dreary days of work." It's not a very American idea, where instant gratification is the watchword.
Almost every profession has a dreary component to it. Just dull, hard work. Then there are moments of great pleasure and insight and fulfillment. But it would be wrong for people to believe that a life in my profession—scientific research—is one happy party all day long. There's a lot of drudgery to it.
Steve Allen, the comedian, came over to Caltech one day. He was interested in these things. He said, "This work must be fascinating." I said, "Yeah, it is. But about 90 percent of it is just hard work." He recognized the same. And, of course, this is true for all of us.
You have rubbed elbows with some of the most famous scientists of the day, like Linus Pauling and Richard Feynman. You also became friends with a number of household names in the arts and journalism. Tell us about your friendships with the comedian Steve Allen and William F. Buckley, Jr., the conservative author and commentator.
When I was at Caltech, I got a job being a graduate student adviser. Part of my job was to run the student center, and I noticed the institution never invited conservative speakers to talk. There was this guy making his name at the time, William F. Buckley, Jr. So I invited him out to give a talk. It was a lot of fun, and that started a 50-year friendship.
Later, I put together a series of debates. I rented the Hollywood Palladium and had a debate on John F. Kennedy's foreign policy between Steve Allen and Bill Buckley. It was a 3,000-seat auditorium, but on the night of the performance only 200 tickets had been sold, so I was sweating bullets. Eventually, 3,000 people showed up.
It was a very lively debate and sitting in the front row was Groucho Marx. Buckley spots Marx and throws in a line. "Well, let's face it," he says. "John F. Kennedy's foreign policy might as well have been written by the Marx Brothers!" At which point, Groucho gets up and walks on stage, waving his hat. The place goes crazy!
Besides being a scientist, you are a lover of fine wine, music, and conversation.
One of my friends throughout the years was psychologist Leon Festinger. He was the person who discovered the concept of cognitive dissonance. He was one of the leading social psychologists in America and was a smart, smart, smart cowboy and a great conversationalist. He knew how to talk about all matters: political, social, scientific, the humanities. He could discourse on a pancake. [Laughs]
So, the love of conversation and discourse was pumped into my head early, and that just became part of my social life. You want that in your home; you want your kids exposed to that. You want to have conversations, and you want to have them with a wide spectrum of people. You don't want to get locked into one social view. Buckley was a conservative. Allen was very much a liberal. So having conversations with them was fascinating.
In a previous book, The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas, you suggest that the brain may contain a built-in sense of ethics. Expand on that idea.
That's hard to believe with all the horrors of the current news. But there are seven billion people on Earth and, by and large, most of them get along. It's a very small percentage that is tearing each other up and making the world difficult for a lot of other people.
But how is it all these social interactions work? Are there built-in mechanisms of fairness and equality, trust and altruism? All these things that monitor our social response in a social world? The answer is: I think there are. The fields of moral psychology and moral neuropsychology are finding out which ones are part of our DNA. We are just beginning to unearth a lot of the underlying neurobiology for moral responses. What's emerging is how much can be constrained and overruled by social convention. That story is going to become a very large part of how we think of ourselves.
You have also written about the nature of consciousness as it affects the abortion debate. Talk about that.
I served on the President's Bioethics Council and a key question that comes up is whether a fertilized egg, a blastocyst, is a human. What we cherish, as human beings, are the memories and the things we can do that are managed by the brain. But there's no brain in the blastocyst. If you take a high-powered microscope and look at the blastocyst, you won't find a brain cell there. So, to give that a moral status as a functioning human being seems crazy.
Being human is the accumulation of life's experience and the management of your life. That's what's human. The issue we were approaching on the council was: Can a 14-day-old blastocyst be used for biomedical research? Is that an affront to the human condition? Ten out of seventeen experts did not have a moral problem with that.
Interestingly, you couldn't predict how people would come out based on their beliefs. There were Catholics who said, "The blastocyst is fine." There were secular Jews who said, "No, that's not fine."
You say that most of the major scientific discoveries have been made in the past 50 years. What are the big breakthroughs likely to be in the next 50?
There have been tremendous technological breakthroughs in the way we can look at the wiring of the brain in great detail. And we're going to get better and better at really defining what it is.
The second big question is: "Well, how does it work?" That's where the next big effort and understanding will come: how the mind is enabled by the brain and how it all interacts together through time. That's where the breakthroughs will come.
If your left brain were having a conversation with your right brain about your life's most important achievements, what would each side say?
The right side would just list the names of my six children; my left side would tell you their glorious life history. It's nothing unique. I'm just a person who loves life, loves the family and the people you brought into this world.
What are we all trying to do? We're all just trying to be less stupid, right? Being less stupid is the goal of our families, and I've managed to communicate that to all our kids. So, we have a good life because of that. [Laughs] We're all out there just trying to be less stupid.
To learn more about scientific breakthroughs on brain research, read "Secrets of the Brain" in the February 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine.
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!
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.
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
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:
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!
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.
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.”
Attacks ads, Internet trolls, lies and appeals to the worst in people—how do we restore the virtue of civility? A panel, led by Melvin McLeod, on bringing depth, respectfulness and integrity back to our national discourse.
Jim Manske's insight:
For me, this may be one of the more profound illustrations of the radical nature of NVC Consciousness as offered by Marshall. The contrast between his view and the other panelists seems remarkable.
Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, age 80, passed away peacefully and surrounded by family, at his home in Albuquerque on February 7th, 2015, after a courageous battle with cancer.
Born in Canton, Ohio on October 6th, 1934, Marshall was raised in Detroit and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Michigan. He received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 1961, where he met his friend and mentor, psychologist Carl Rogers. He was awarded Diplomate status from the American Board of Examiners in Professional Psychology in 1966.
Marshall launched his professional career in St. Louis where he established a successful clinical practice. Marshall's desire to put people over profits, as well as his curiosity and desire to learn more about the causes of violence that had defined his early experiences living in inner city Detroit, soon inspired him to leave private practice. He took a job as a cab driver and used this time to explore new and meaningful ways he might apply his professional training to reduce various forms of violence and disseminate peacemaking skills.
Marshall's exploration quickly evolved into Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a process that facilitates stronger interpersonal communication and cultivates mutual recognition of deeper emotional needs, resulting in greater compassion and peaceful resolution between conflicted parties.
Marshall worked closely with civil rights activists in the 1960's, mediating between rioting students and college administrators and working to peacefully desegregate public schools in long-segregated regions.
Marshall's work in this capacity motivated him to found of the Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) for which he served as the Director of Educational Services. A dedicated teacher, peace-maker and visionary leader, Marshall led NVC workshops and international intensive trainings for thousands of people in over 60 countries across the world. Marshall was passionate about his work and traveled to war-torn areas and economically disadvantaged countries, offering NVC training to promote reconciliation and peaceful resolution of differences.
He worked tirelessly with such groups as educators, managers, mental health and health care providers, lawyers, military officers, prisoners, police and prison officials, clergy, government officials, and individual families. Marshall authored several books and received numerous awards throughout his career.
Marshall is survived by his beloved wife, Valentina Rosenberg, (a.k.a Kidini); children Rick Rosenberg, Dr. Marla Nosan; Dr. Brett Rosenberg, step-daughter Naila de Cruz-Dixon, granddaughter, Chloe Nosan; daughters-in-law, Olivia Ramos and Sonia Rosenberg; son-in-law, David Nosan MD; brother and sister-in-law, Calvin and Elma Rosenberg; colleagues and students from around the world; and his sweet four-legged companion Tiger-Lilly (named, by Marshall, in honor of the Detroit Tigers).
We would like to extend our gratitude to his longtime friend and Primary Care physician Dr. Patrick Rivera; his Presbyterian Hospice physician, Dr. Karen Adams; his Presbyterian Hospice Nurse, Collette Mahea Dodd; and his dedicated caregivers, Fawziya, Alma and Desmine.
In our great mourning, and with deep reverence and soaring gratitude for the spirit he released in us, we hope to carry our beloved Marshall's light forward. We find comfort in his profound sense of humor and grace, which continues to soothe our hearts with much laughter and love. We will miss you Dear One! In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Presbyterian Hospice Homecare (8300 Constitution Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87110) or a charity of one's choice.
An announcement regarding a memorial service to celebrate Marshall's life will follow. "Only from the Heart can you touch the Sky" -Rumi
Are some people born with a brain that is wired to be more empathetic? Can compassion be learned? What daily habits or life experiences reinforce selfishness, narcissism, and at a far extreme psychopathy?
Last night, I listened to an interview(link is external) with Madonna and Anderson Cooper talking about the importance of teaching our children to be able to empathize and to not be complacent about fighting against oppression and inequality.
Two studies in the past month have identified specific brain regions linked to empathy and compassion.
This morning, a new study was released by the Max Planck Institute for Human and Cognitive Brain Sciences that revealed the neurobiological roots of how our own feelings and experiences can distort someone’s capacity for empathy. Last month, another study from the University of Chicago found the neurobiological roots of psychopathic behavior. Together, these studies offer valuable clues for ways we can fortify empathy at a neural level. Luckily, researchers have found that compassion can be trained.
The Neuroscience of Empathy
In a study(link is external) published in the Journal of Neuroscience on October 9, 2013, Max Planck researchers identified that the tendency to be egocentric is innate for human beings – but that a part of your brain recognizes a lack of empathy and autocorrects. This specific part of your brain is called the the right supramarginal gyrus. When this brain region doesn't function properly—or when we have to make particularly quick decisions—the researchers found one’s ability for empathy is dramatically reduced. This area of the brain helps us to distinguish our own emotional state from that of other people and is responsible for empathy and compassion.
The supramarginal gyrus is a part of the cerebral cortex and is approximately located at the junction of the parietal, temporal and frontal lobe. "This was unexpected, as we had the temporo-parietal junction in our sights. This is located more towards the front of the brain," explains Claus Lamm, one of the paper's authors.
The research team headed by Tania Singer said, “When assessing the world around us and our fellow humans, we use ourselves as a yardstick and tend to project our own emotional state onto others. While cognition research has already studied this phenomenon in detail, nothing is known about how it works on an emotional level. It was assumed that our own emotional state can distort our understanding of other people's emotions, in particular if these are completely different to our own. But this emotional egocentricity had not been measured before now.”
The right supramarginal gyrus ensures that we can decouple our perception of ourselves from that of others. When the neurons in this part of the brain were disrupted in the course of a research task, the participants found it difficult to stop from projecting their own feelings and circumstances onto others. The participants' assessments were also less accurate when they were forced to make particularly quick decisions.
The Lap of Luxury Can Make You Less Empathetic
When you are in an agreeable and comfortable situation it is more difficult to empathize with another person’s suffering. At a neurobiological level – without a properly functioning supramarginal gyrus – your brain has a tough time putting itself in someone else’s shoes. To test this in the laboratory the Max Planck researchers used a perception experiment in which participants, who worked in teams of two, were exposed to either pleasant or unpleasant simultaneous visual and tactile stimuli.
For example, while participant 1 was shown a picture of maggots and had slime placed on her hand, participant 2 saw a picture of a puppy and could feel soft, fleecy fur on her skin. "It was important to combine the two stimuli. Without the tactile stimulus, the participants would only have evaluated the situation 'with their heads' and their feelings would have been excluded," explains Claus Lamm. The participants could also see the stimulus that their team partners were exposed at the same time.
The two participants were then asked to evaluate either their own emotions compared to those of their partners. As long as both participants were exposed to the same type of positive or negative stimuli, they found it easy to assess their partner's emotions.
The participant who was confronted with an unpleasant or disagreeable experience could easily imagine how unpleasant the sight and feeling of slime and maggots must be for her partner. For more on the genetics of staying happily married please check out my recent Psychology Today blog: "Is the Secret to a Happy Marriage Held in Your DNA?"
Major differences arose during the test when one partner was confronted with pleasant stimuli and the other with unpleasant ones. In this scenario a person’s capacity for empathy plummeted. The participants' own emotions distorted their assessment of the other person's feelings. The participants who were feeling good themselves assessed their partners' negative experiences as less severe than they actually were. In contrast, those who had just had an unpleasant experience assessed their partners' good experiences less positively.
Until now, social neuroscience models have assumed that people simply rely on their own emotions as a reference for empathy. This only works, however, if we are in a neutral state or the same state as our counterpart. Otherwise, the brain must use the right supramarginal gyrus to counteract and correct a tendency for self-centered perceptions of another’s pain, suffering or discomfort.
The Neurological Basis for a Lack of Empathy
Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by ‘a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow affect, glibness, manipulation and callousness.’ When individuals with psychopathy imagine others in pain, researchers have found that brain areas necessary for feeling empathy and concern for others fail to become active and connected to other important regions involved in affective processing and compassionate decision-making.
A September 2013 study(link is external) from the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago published in journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found the neurobiological roots of psychopathic behavior.
When highly psychopathic participants imagined pain to themselves, they showed a typical neural response within the brain regions involved in empathy for pain, including the anterior insula, the anterior midcingulate cortex, somatosensory cortex, and the right amygdala. The increase in brain activity in these regions was unusually pronounced, suggesting that psychopathic people are sensitive to the thought of pain but are unable to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and feel that pain.
When participants imagined pain to others, these regions failed to become active in high psychopaths. In a sadistic twist, when imagining others in pain, psychopaths actually showed an increased response in the ventral striatum, an area known to be involved in pleasure. Participants were assessed with the widely used PCL-R, which is a diagnostic tool use to identify varying degrees of psychopathic tendencies. Based on this assessment, the participants were then divided in three groups of approximately 40 individuals each: highly, moderately, and weakly psychopathic.
Previous research rate of psychopathy in prisons is much higher than the average population. About 23% of prison inmates are thought to be psychopathic while the average population is around 1%. To better understand the neurological basis of empathy dysfunction in psychopaths, neuroscientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on the brains of 121 inmates of a medium-security prison.
In the study participants were shown a variety of visual scenarios illustrating physical pain, such as a finger caught between a door, or a toe caught under a heavy object. Then they were asked to imagine that this accident happened to themselves, or somebody else. They were also shown control images that did not depict any painful situation, for example a hand on a doorknob.
The researchers believe that finding the neurobiological roots of empathy vs. psychopathy may lead to intervention programs in a domain where therapeutic pessimism is running rampant. Honing in on neural networks needed to make people more empathetic may be the key to targeting psychopathic behavior and lower violent crime. “Imagining oneself in pain or in distress may trigger a stronger affective reaction than imagining what another person would feel, and this could be used with some psychopaths in cognitive-behavior therapies as a kick-starting technique,” the authors conclude.
Conclusion: Can meditation, daily physical activity, and volunteerism make your brain more empathetic?
Neuroscience allows us to see inside the human brain and better understand our minds. With this knowledge we can begin to make daily choices of mindset and behavior that not only reshape our neural circuitry but can alter the way human beings interact with one another.
Because our brain’s neural circuitry is malleable and can be rewired through neuroplasticity one's tendency for empathy and compassion is never fixed. We all need to practice putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes to reinforce the neural networks that allow us to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ and ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'
There are no easy answers for how to elevate people’s consciousness and empathetic response. I am optimistic that through daily choices of mindset and behavior that anyone can rewire his or her brain to be more empathetic. As with everything, we need to take a multi-pronged approach. Other research has shown that compassion can be trained through: rigorous mindfulness training and/or loving-kindness meditation; physical activity that puts your body and mind in touch with "disagreeable" experiences some would consider to be a “suffer-fest"; and giving back through prosocial behavior and volunteerism.
Many studies have shown that mindfulness meditation that includes LKM (loving-kindness meditation) can rewire your brain. Practicing LKM is easy. All you have to do is take a few minutes everyday to sit quietly and systematically send loving and compassionate thoughts to: 1) Family and friends. 2) Someone with whom you have tension or a conflict. 3) Strangers around the world who are suffering. 4)
Self-compassion, forgiveness and self-love to yourself.
Doing this simple 4-step LKM practice literally rewires your brain by engaging neural connections linked to empathy. You can literally feel the tumblers in your brain shift and open up to empathy by spending just a few minutes going through this systematic LKM practice.
I also believe that regular physical exercise and getting through a tough workout makes people more empathetic to human suffering.
Some people may think that pushing yourself through a workout is masochistic. It is. This is one reason why daily physical exercise might make anyone less sadistic or likely to be a psychopath at neurological level.
Through the daily process of consciously seeking and experiencing something that is ‘disagreeable’ you become physically and mentally tough, but it makes you sensitive to what pain feels like. By leaving the comfort zone of modern American life – on a long run, bike ride or tough workout – you viscerally connect to the essence of human struggle experienced everyday by people around the world who are less fortunate than many of us. This is one of the founding principles of The Athlete's Way: Sweat and the Biology of Bliss(link is external).
Lastly, many studies have shown that volunteerism is good for your health. Dedicating some time each week to some type of charity work creates a win-win by reinforcing the empathetic wiring of your brain while making a contribution to reduce the suffering of someone less fortunate.
These are all small steps, but taken together they can fortify empathy and altruism at a neurobiological level for each individual. Collectively, these small steps can help make the world a better place.