"The Moral Molecule is a first-hand account of the discovery of a molecule that makes us moral. It reveals that compassion [and empathy] is part of our human nature, why loneliness can kill you, and why your neighbor may be a psychopath."
Last week a few HuffPost editors and I were treated to a visit by Bill Drayton and Mary Gordon. Bill Drayton is the founder of Ashoka and a longtime champion of social entrepreneurship, a term that he coined and that has now spread across the world.
It is a fact that human beings have a strong desire to pursue happiness. Yet, it seems that in our advanced modern world, where we’ve become experts on just about anything, happiness is not so easy to come by.
A new study by Dr. Keisuke Suzuki, Professor Anil Seth, and colleagues at the Sackler Centre – published in the journalNeuropsychologia - now shows that external visualization of one’s heartbeat can influence what we experience as our own body.
The team used a unique combination of heartbeat monitoring and augmented reality to implement a ‘cardio-visual’ version of the rubber hand illusion. Participants wore a ‘head mounted display’ through which they saw a virtual-reality version of their own hand projected in front of them, while their real hand remained hidden out of view. The virtual hand was made to pulse to red and back either in-time or out-of-time with their heartbeat.
The researchers found that the virtual hand was more likely to be experienced as part of a person’s body when the ‘cardio-visual’ feedback was aligned with the actual heartbeat, than when it was misaligned. This shows that the brain integrates its perception of the body from the outside with its perception from the inside, in determining what is experienced as its body.
Don’t look now, but all of a sudden the topic of compassionate management is becoming trendy.
A growing number of business conferences are focusing in on the topic of compassion at work. There’s the International Working Group on Compassionate Organizations. There’s the Changing Culture in the Workplace Conference. Then there’s Wisdom 2.0, dedicated to “exploring living with greater awareness, wisdom and compassion in the modern age.” The speakers are no slouches: eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Bill Ford (yes, that Bill Ford), Karen May (VP of Talent at Google), and Linked In CEO Jeff Weiner top the bill. At TED, Karen Armstrong’s talk about reviving the Golden Rule won the TED prize in 2009 and has given rise to a Charter for Compassion signed by nearly 100,000 people.
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