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Distant Galaxies Give Astronomers Big Surprise

Distant Galaxies Give Astronomers Big Surprise | Radical Compassion | Scoop.it

The Hubble Space Telescope has peered back to a chaotic time 13. 2 billion years ago when never-before-seen galaxies were tiny, bright blue and full of stars bursting to life all over the place.

 

Thanks to some complex physics tricks, NASA's aging telescope is just starting to see the universe at its infancy in living color and detail.

 

Images released by NASA on Tuesday show galaxies that are 20 times fainter than those pictured before. They are from a new campaign to have the 23-year-old Hubble gaze much earlier and farther away than it was designed to see.

 

"I like to call it cosmic dawn," Hubble astronomer Jennifer Lotz said at the American Astronomical Society convention in Washington. "It's when the lights are coming on."

 

It was a time when star formation was ramping up, and it was far more hectic than now.

 

"Imagine if you went back 500 million years after the Big Bang and looked around in the sky," astronomer Garth Illingworth of the University of California Santa Cruz said. "Galaxies are closer. They're smaller. They're bright blue and they're everywhere...They are probably blobby, small, nothing like our Milky Way."

 

There were probably no metals at this time, no Earths, said Illingworth, who was on the scientific team using Hubble.

 

"Things look clumpy and kind of weird," Lotz said.

 

Most of the galaxies then were close to 1,000 times smaller than our Milky Way, but astronomers said they were surprised to discover a few brighter, bigger galaxies sparkling out there.

 

These first pictures showed nearly 3,000 galaxies. Astronomers are still trying to figure out which of those galaxies are ancient and which are more recent.

 

Because light travels nearly 6 trillion miles a year, as telescopes look farther from Earth they see earlier into the past.

 

While Hubble and other telescopes using different light wavelengths have seen this far back, this is the first complete set of photos in the visible light spectrum that the human eye sees.

 

To do this, Hubble is using one of Albert Einstein's concepts that massive clusters of galaxies have such super gravity that they magnify and stretch light, Lotz said. By focusing on clusters, astronomers use them as natural binoculars to see what's behind them.

 

The release of the images is significant and important, said Christopher Conselice, a professor at the University of Nottingham in England. Conselice was not part of the Hubble team.

 

"It'll tell us about how the universe is forming and evolving," Conselice said after the astronomers' presentation. "I think they understated it. It could be a fundamental thing."

Jim Manske's insight:

And if that does not inspire awe...

 

check this out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QyVZrV3d3o

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Three Ways Leaders Can Listen with More Empathy

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

by John Coleman


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

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

Recognize verbal and non-verbal cues.

Process what you hear/see

Respond thoughtfully

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Surprising Trait Google Looks For To Identify Potential Leaders

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

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

 

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

 

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

Google people operations on leadership

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Autonomy is the key to employee happiness and outsized performance

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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



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

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Gandhi statue set for Westminster

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

'Source of strength'


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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7 weird things money does to your brain

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

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

 

1. Money kills empathy.

 

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

 

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

 

2. Losing money hurts, literally.

 

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


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

 

3. More money, fewer ethics.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

6. Your brain treats credit differently from cash.

 

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

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

 

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

 

7. The wealthy are perceived as evil-doers.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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


1. Get up and do some jumping jacks

 

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

 

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

 

2. Call a friend or a family member

 

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

 

3. Write down three good things you are grateful for

 

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


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

 

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

 

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


5. Set an intention for the day

 

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

 

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

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

Practical immediate steps

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

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

The 8 Things The Happiest People Do Every Day

 

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

Via The How of Happiness:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Happiness Subscriptions”

 

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

 

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

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

 

They give us frequent, regular boosts.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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


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


See where I’m going with this?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1) Wake Up And Say ARG!

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

 

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

 

Anticipation

Recollection

Gratitude

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Via The How of Happiness:


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

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


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


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

 

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

 

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

 

2) Savor Your Morning Coffee

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

It can be anything you do every morning.

 

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

 

Here’s Harvard professor Francesca Gino:

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


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

 

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

 

3) Sweat Your Way To Joy

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

 

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

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


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

 

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

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


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

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

 

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

 

4) The Five Minute Favor

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

 

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

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


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

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


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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

5) Life Is A Game, And So Is Work

 

the research shows, the happiest people have goals.

 

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

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

 

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


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

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

 

Three research-backed things to try:

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

 

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

 

6) Friends Get Appointments Too

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

 

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

 

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People:

 

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


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

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

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


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

 

Via Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending:

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

7) Find Meaning In Hard Times

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

 

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

 

Via The How of Happiness:

 

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


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

 

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


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

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

 

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

 

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

 

SUM UP

 

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

 

Wake Up And Say ARG!

Savor Your Morning Coffee

Sweat Your Way To Joy

Do A Five Minute Favor

Make Work A Game

Friends Get Appointments Too

Find Meaning In Hard Times

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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How To Save The World With Empathy

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

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

 

1. Resolving The Big Conflicts

 

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

 

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


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

 

2. Patients Are People, Not Just Broken Bodies

 

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

 

3. What About The Environment?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

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

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All Our Patent Belong To You Motors~Elon Musk

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Dare

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Practicing Gratitude Calms the Nerves and Mind

 

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

 

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

 

Play with gratitude.

 

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

-I was able to play without injuries.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

I again won in two sets.

 

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

 

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

 

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

say:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A short while later, my ticket was dismissed!

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

-Reduces our anxiety creating fears.

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

 

Test the Gratitude/Calmness Dynamic

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Do We Choose Happiness or Does Happiness Choose Us?

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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Empathy - BBC Radio 4

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

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


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The Power of the Powerless by Wendy McElroy

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

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

 

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


The Power of Living in Truth


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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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


The Difference One Individual Can Make

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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


What is Necessary to Assume Your Power

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Is Empathy Possible in the Digital Age?

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

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

Culture of Empathy Builder Page:  Paul Ekman
http://j.mp/JJDMc4
 


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


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

 


======================

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

==========


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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

"Close your eyes," he said.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"I slept like a baby," Hinkle said.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

By then, he was preaching to the converted.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Game over.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


COLOR-CODED DISCIPLINE

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


HOW DOES IT WORK?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Hugs Have Healing Power, Study Says

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

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


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Empathy Lessons: Training Police To Understand People With Mental Illness

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

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Heal the body By Harnessing the Mind - Jo Marchant

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

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

 

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

1. Better believe it

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

2. Think positive

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

3. Trust people

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

4. Meditate

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

5. Hypnotize yourself

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

6. Know your purpose

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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