There be demons: Parents go trick or treating with their children these days for very good reason. Photograph: Jim Corwin/Alamy
Ah, Halloween. It is, naturally, only as I have got older that I have come to appreciate the true function of such sociocultural rites. Which is, of course, to provide tangible, quantifiable proof (in case the daily headlines, the rise of Michael Gove and the fact that some turd has introduced a competition element into Gareth Malone‘s hitherto shining oeuvre were not enough) that the notion of history as a story of progression is naught but a phantasm that seeks to conceal the fact that the world is going to hell in a handcart.
When I were a lass, children went trick or treating on their own, without any adult accompaniment. We dressed up in black bin-liners, home- or Friday-afternoon-school-made witches’ hats, anything orange (we didn’t know why. I didn’t see a pumpkin until I was 21, in the garden of a posh friend from university – I thought the fecking Triffids had landed), facepaints or felt tip (to be scoured off with Vim, maternal vigour and a rough flannel, so that assembly was filled for the next week with the sound of children tap-tap-tapping experimentally at their full-face scabs) and knocked on doors. Householders would open them, stare down disbelievingly and close them again without saying a word. It was brilliant. We got to dress up, do something different, but all the normal rules still applied. Children like to know where they stand, even if it’s before a closed door damming a hallful of disapproval behind.
Over the next couple of decades, word got around – thanks largely to increased importation and consumption of US network TV – of how the whole thing was supposed to work. The most impoverished denizens of the most impoverished countries set to work with enforced will, making Halloween costumes of artfully tattered plastic, net and nylon to fill whatever supermarket space was left once the quotas of mince pies had been shelved. And all the adults in richer nations learned to play their sweet-dispensing part. Now I stand with a bowl of fun-sized Mars Bars in my hand and a short advisory speech about type-2 diabetes on my lips, waiting for the doorbell to ring.
But these days children go trick or treating only with grown-ups. The superintendents used to stay out of sight a few feet down the road or behind the nearest tree, to preserve the illusion that their charges were alone. But I notice that every year they have stood a little closer. First, they hovered at the gates of each house. Now, they usually come right up to the house and stand a few feet from the children, and carefully in the homeowner’s eyeline, to banish not the pagan fears of Allhallows Eve, but the horrors – real and imagined, but true enough either way – that lurk in the shadows waiting for our children each and every night.
It wasn’t safe, of course, when we went out as kids. At best, I suspect, our greater freedom was only the result of our guardians’ ignorance of the potential dangers to youth. But that is the closest thing we have to remember wistfully as innocence now. Just as the whispered warnings among us youngsters back then, of where the local creeps and weirdos hung out and which bus stops and park bushes were most favoured by flashers, will probably, not too many years from now, come to be glossed as “community spirit”.
I was watching the other day a documentary about a serial killer and how he tortured his victims. I hate such types of programs yet what interests me about them is how the criminals they talk about can ‘have the heart’ to hurt fellow human beings or even anything living at all. The documentary explained eventually that when the criminal’s brain was scanned, it was concluded that the special place for Empathy inside his brain had been damaged in an accident when he was a child, for which reason, he was feeling no pity nor repentance while committing those crimes.
This all drove me to wonder ‘WHAT are we without empathy?’, and the reason why I am choosing to use the word ‘what’ as opposed to ‘who’ is because the latter indicates that the individual is still considered a human being, which may entail that he or she may actually have feelings underneath the corrupted crust inside his or her brain.
So ‘what’ do we become without empathy?
In order to answer that, we should have a look at what Empathy means and entails.
Dr. Daniel Goleman in his world-famous book “Emotional Intelligence: Why EQ Matters More Than IQ” mentions an incident in Germany, whereby a bike driver had been hit by a car, and remained laying flat to the side of the road completely ignored. He said drivers in surrounding cars were looking at him without feelings/impressions on their faces awaiting their traffic lights to turn green. It may seem surprising to you or to most of us, but obviously it wasn’t surprising to those fellow drivers who didn’t even care to take that poor biker to the hospital.
Some may say that in this day and age, chivalry has almost disappeared from our glossary. There may not be time for it basically. Also, since time equals money to most of us, then actions that may delay us, can be easily assessed as futile. Some may say that life has become all about money. Others may acknowledge that and still see that there are those who are considered leaders socially who always make this extra step that no one else seems willing to do, without asking anything in return, and despite the fact that he or she may be late to their appointments as a result.
So it boils down to one’s ethics too. So for example, if a manager appreciates the concepts of family, he may not accept that his employees remain after working hours trying to make ends meet, because he may value and acknowledge that his employees actually deserve a rest, family time and right to have a life. Therefore, meanwhile he may push his employees’ performance and urge them to progress with more passion, he would still remind them that work is just part of their lives, and not a reason to forget about life.
However, when we say ethics, we may associate that with a higher brain functionality, one that is totally contradictory to the basic needs (instincts) of a primitive mind. Yet in fact, ethics can also be an organic product of one’s feelings and one’s own level of emotional intelligence. It is like looking inward towards yourselves and emotions with the same lens, through which you look on other people’s feelings outside of you, thus, being able to establish an understanding or a connection between you and them. The more you learn to discern your emotions, the more expert you become in doing that, which in turn translates into better relationships and success in connecting with others. In other words, it is said that one who understands one’s own feelings is usually more effective in responding to other people’s feelings in return. This goes along the famous quote by Plato: “Know Thyself“.
So empathy basically is discerning your own emotions and learning to discern others’ the same way, to a degree that you put yourself in their place and imagine how it would be to be experiencing what they experience. Sounds too much, especially in this fast-paced age, but actually we see aspects of empathy wherever we go. As a matter of fact, it has been proven scientifically that we are wired for empathy. For example, if we watch someone down the street walking with a heavy stack of books or boxes, we automatically shrink our faces and imagine that we are the ones who are carrying that load.
Empathy is also proven to exit naturally in human from a very young age, like when a child sees another child that’s crying. It automatically starts crying too. If a child sees happy kids, he or she automatically starts mimicking that in return. Even most animals have different degrees of genuine empathy. We can see this in a mother animal caressing her children, or when we see two swans leaning their heads against one another forming a shape of a heart.
So how would a natural quality that allows humans, despite all of their differences (age, race, faith, gender, etc.) connect and unit with one another any time anywhere? How valuable is this unique quality to us? Are we willing to oppress it or improve it? Is it worth stopping to help out someone who seems in dire need of help?
On the other hand, what happens if we oppress our own feelings of empathy? Does this make us less human? What would a person become without empathy? I was thinking of all these questions,and realized that human fixation can be as deep as a black hole. The more one looks inwards, the more experiences one is exposed to. It also depends on the way you are looking. For example, there are those who look inwards with a loner’s attitude, reminiscing of a happy past or negatively dwelling on how unlucky one had always been. The result of such perspective conjures up even more sadness, loneliness, sense of isolation and negativity. Also, too much inward fixation can lead to a major shift of attention to the outside world and the healthy human need to socialize with other people and integrate with new potential happy encounters. When one is too focused on pitying oneself, the less empathy one is going to feel for others, thus the more distant one may become to surrounding happenings and people around one or in the world.
Empathy is said to bring people closer to one another by being able to identify with each other’s feelings and needs. It is also said to be the mother of compassion. Alfred Adler described it as “seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”
Eyebrows can also help portray empathy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the other hand, individuals with an abusive or aggressive past may lack empathy too, as their past experiences may have turned them into beast-like humans: aggressive, selfish or a victim to one’s own primitive instincts that once they get fulfilled, one may repetitively yearn for more. Some scientist once said such individuals become more like vampires or human predators. Vampires don’t have empathy, and the more they drain a human of blood, the more blood they crave. However, both modes (the introvert and predator) can share one common tendency, which is to constantly seek sensual satisfaction through whichever way possible, and they can become not deterred by ethical or moral inhibitions that a healthy person shuns away from.
So all that brings us to the main question, which is the title of this article: What (not Who) Are We Without Empathy?
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein
I’m sure most of us do acts of kindness on daily basis, yet we may not think much of them and may allow time to erase those valuable memories. I think, in addition to writing what we are grateful for, in a gratitude journal, we need to document any acts of kindness that we offer to others, no matter how small they are. It reminds us of who we ‘really’ are, and how we ‘truly’ express that. Don’t you think?🙂 Read this by Bill Taylor about the importance of kindness as opposed to cleverness. Worth reading!
One of the more heart-warming stories to zoom around the Internet lately involves a young man, his dying grandmother, and a bowl of clam chowder from Panera Bread. It’s a little story that offers big lessons about service, brands, and the human side of business — a story that underscores why efficiency should never come at the expense of humanity.
The story, as told in AdWeek, goes like this: Brandon Cook, from Wilton, New Hampshire, was visiting his grandmother in the hospital. Terribly ill with cancer, she complained to her grandson that she desperately wanted a bowl of soup, and that the hospital’s soup was inedible (she used saltier language). If only she could get a bowl of her favorite clam chowder from Panera Bread! Trouble was, Panera only sells clam chowder on Friday. So Brandon called the nearby Panera and talked to store manager Suzanne Fortier. Not only did Sue make clam chowder specially for Brandon’s grandmother, she included a box of cookies as a gift from the staff.
It was a small act of kindness that would not normally make headlines. Except that Brandon told the story on his Facebook page, and Brandon’s mother, Gail Cook, retold the story on Panera’s fan page. The rest, as they say, is social-media history. Gail’s post generated 500,000 (and counting) “likes” and more than 22,000 comments on Panera’s Facebook page. Panera, meanwhile, got something that no amount of traditional advertising can buy — a genuine sense of affiliation and appreciation from customers around the world.
Marketing types have latched on to this story as an example of the power of social media and “virtual word-of-mouth” to boost a company’s reputation. But I see the reaction to Sue Fortier’s gesture as an example of something else — the hunger among customers, employees, and all of us to engage with companies on more than just dollars-and-cents terms. In a world that is being reshaped by the relentless advance of technology, what stands out are acts of compassion and connection that remind us what it means to be human.
As I read the story of Brandon and his grandmother, I thought back to a lecture delivered two years ago by Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, to the graduating seniors of my alma mater, Princeton University. Bezos is nothing if not a master of technology — he has built his company, and his fortune, on the rise of the Internet and his own intellect. But he spoke that day not about computing power or brainpower, but about his grandmother — and what he learned when he made her cry.
Even as a 10-year-old boy, it turns out, Bezos had a steel-trap mind and a passion for crunching numbers. During a summer road trip with his grandparents, young Jeff got fed up with his grandmother’s smoking in the car — and decided to do something about it. From the backseat, he calculated how many cigarettes per day his grandmother smoked, how many puffs she took per cigarette, the health risk of each puff, and announced to her with great fanfare, “You’ve taken nine years off your life!”
Bezos’s calculations may have been accurate — but the reaction was not what he expected. His grandmother burst into tears. His grandfather pulled the car off to the side of the road and asked young Jeff to step out. And then his grandfather taught a lesson that this now-billionaire decided to share the with the Class of 2010: “My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, ‘Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever.'”
That’s a lesson I wish more businesspeople understood — a lesson that is reinforced by the reaction to this simple act of kindness at Panera Bread. Indeed, I experienced something similar not so long ago, and found it striking enough to devote an HBR blog post to the experience. In my post, I told the story of my father, his search for a new car, a health emergency that took place in the middle of that search — and a couple of extraordinary (and truly human) gestures by an auto dealer that put him at ease and won his loyalty.
“What is it about business that makes it so hard to be kind?” I asked at the time. “And what kind of businesspeople have we become when small acts of kindness feel so rare?”
That’s what’s really striking about the Panera Bread story — not that Suzanne Fortier went out of her way to do something nice for a sick grandmother, but that her simple gesture attracted such global attention and acclaim.
So by all means, encourage your people to embrace technology, get great at business analytics, and otherwise ramp up the efficiency of everything they do. But just make sure all their efficiency doesn’t come at the expense of their humanity. Small gestures can send big signals about who we are, what we care about, and why people should want to affiliate with us. It’s harder (and more important) to be kind than clever.
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”
― Thomas Merton
Are you an ambitious individual yet you are held back by self-doubt?
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A recent article in the Washington Post asked whether your boss was making you sick.
Having spent more than seven years in the legal profession, I can recount numerous examples of bad bosses, one of my favorites being the person who started swearing and got so angry that veins were popping out because I didn’t put two documents in a binder in the right order.
Bad bosses’ ripple effect
As the Washington Postarticle references, bad bosses come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from being a micromanager to hypercritical, like the one I experienced, to completely clueless and beyond. I have long wondered why companies ignore the ripple effect that bad bosses create within an organization, making employees feel everything from inferior to physically sick, and feel ambivalent about flushing tens of millions of dollars and more down the drain in absenteeism, lost productivity, and turnover costs.
While it’s no doubt that bad bosses are toxic, I want to explore a different question. What if your boss is burned out?According to a Wall Street Journalarticle, a recent Harvard Medical School study revealed that 96% of senior leaders reported feeling burned out on some level, with one-third describing their burnout as extreme.
Disease of Disengagement
I often describe burnout as a disease of disengagement. The effects of burnout cause high achievers to unplug – at work, at home, and with regard to activities that once provided a sense of joy.
Fast Company recently reported that the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report showed that 79% of business and HR leaders worldwide believe they have a significant engagement problem in their organizations. To further support the fact that many employees are feeling disengaged, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report – 2013 revealed that approximately 70% of workers are disengaged.
Companies are in need of effective tools to help their managers and executives prevent burnout, but given that many executives in Corporate America are men, it’s important for companies to understand the gender differences associated with the way burnout is processed.
Dimensions of burnouts
One study in particular assessed the prevalence of burnout in male and female physicians (general practitioners, specifically) using the three factor Maslach Burnout Inventory which examines the following dimensions of burnout:
Exhaustion: Feeling emotionally exhausted, depleted, and a loss of energy.
Cynicism: Having a negative attitude toward clients and those you work with, feeling irritable, and withdrawing from people and activities you once enjoyed.
Inefficacy: Experiencing diminished personal accomplishment, a perceived decline in competence or productivity, and expending energy at work without seeing any results.
This study found that men and women process these burnout dimensions differently. Women experienced exhaustion first, followed by cynicism, then inefficacy – they didn’t think they were being effective care providers so they stopped to evaluate.
The men, on the other hand, tended to experience cynicism first, then exhaustion. Interestingly, many of the men in the study kept practicing because they didn’t feel as though the symptoms from the first two stages impacted the quality of care they provided. They didn’t reach the inefficacy stage because they thought they were still being effective.
I find this telling because the Wall Street Journal article focused largely on male CEO’s, with each of them describing wanting to “power through” their stress with one leader saying, “If you want to be a real leader, you can’t go around being emotionally erratic.” Another CEO said he felt like he was “running in place” but hesitated to call his condition “burnout.”
Preventing a burnout
Clearly, social stigma and a leader’s personal beliefs impact whether or not he or she seeks help for burnout or even understands its warning signs. Companies can help their employees at ALL levels prevent burnout by doing two things:
Train employees to build their levels of resilience (the ability to bounce back and grow and thrive during challenge, change and stress); and
Focus on ways to help employees build engagement (helping employees “plug in” to work and activities that are sources of energy).
For additional burnout prevention strategies, take a look at my Psychology Today article called, “7 Strategies to Prevent Burnout.” Bad bosses are no good for business, but it’s important to at least consider whether the boss needs a break from burnout.
Paula Davis-Laack, JD, MAPP, is the Founder and CEO of the Davis Laack Stress & Resilience Institute, a practice devoted to helping busy professionals prevent burnout and build resilience.
Today, I came across an interesting email, and thought it was worth sharing.
What is worth our time, energy, emotions and attention? When do we draw the line between what we’ve got to do and what we want to do?
What happened to 8 wealthiest people in the world?
“In 1923, Eight of the wealthiest people in the world met. Their combined wealth, estimated, exceeded the wealth of the government of the United States. These men knew how to make a living and accumulate wealth. 25 years later.
1. President of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, died bankrupt.
2. President of the largest gas company, Howard Hubson, went insane.
3. One of the greatest commodity traders, Arthur Cutton, died insolvent.
4. President of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, was sent to jail.
5. A member of the President’s Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from jail.
6. The greatest “bear” on Wall Street, Jessie Livermore, committed suicide.
7. President of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Krueger, committed suicide.
8. President, Bank of International Settlement, Leon Fraser, committed suicide.
They forgot to make a life ! Just made Money !
Money provides food for the hungry, medicine for the sick, clothes for the needy, but is only a medium of exchange.
We need two kinds of education.
One that teaches us how to make a living and one that teaches us how to live.
People are engrossed in their professional life and neglect their family, health and social responsibilities.
Our kids are sleeping when we leave home. They are sleeping when we come home. Twenty years later, we’ll turn back, and they’ll all be gone !!!!!.
Without water, a ship cannot move. The ship needs water, but if the water gets into the ship, the ship will face problems and sink.
Similarly we live in a time where earning is a necessity but let not the earning enter our hearts, for what was once a means of living will be become a means of destruction.
I’ve often said that I wish Thanksgiving was a little more about gratitude and a little less about food. Then again, the food is pretty awesome…
So I’m definitely all for keeping the food! But…
Here’s a way to add gratitude to a Thanksgiving feast that’s both meaningful and memorable. And according to positive pychology research, this exercise will help you feel immediately happier and…you’ll continue to feel happier even six months from now. That’s something to be thankful for!
I’m talking about the Gratitude Visit, which evolved out of Martin Seligman’s Penn State course on positive psychology.
The holiday season is the perfect time to do a positive psychology visit, because so many of us are traveling anyway. I dare you to add it too your Thanksgiving feast. You’ll be glad you did!
Think of someone who has helped you in some life-changing way, but who you have never sufficiently thanked.
Then sit down with a pen and paper, or sit at your computer, and write out specifically what that person did for you, the impact it had on your life and how thankful you are.
Then travel to that person’s home, or invite them to yours, but don’t tell them about the gratitude visit in advance. An email or telephone call is not enough; you must do this in person.
When you are together, whether alone or among others, take out the gratitude story that you previously wrote and read it aloud to them, making frequent eye contact as you read. Then give the story to them to keep.
That’s it! Imagine the emotional impact such a strong acknowledgment will have on the person you’re thanking. Interestingly, positive psychologists tell us that the impact on the person who does the thanking is most dramatic.
What more beautiful custom to add to your Thanksgiving tradition?
The human body is hard-wired in such a way that we have the innate capability to experience deep spiritual events, regardless of one’s religious or theological beliefs. However, the reality of life is that our bodies are constantly bombarded with toxins, chemicals and poisons, while our minds and psyches are constantly cluttered by media, distractions and group-think. Given this rather chaotic environment, it’s no wonder that it is so difficult for most of us to experience genuine spiritual events and that true enlightenment seems so unattainable and out of reach.
Spiritual experiences are profound events. They can heal our psyche and our physical body. They can instantly and permanently alter the way we view life. We become more closely connected with other living beings. We strengthen our essence and create positive change in our lives and in the lives of others. Yet, moments of clarity, enlightenment, spiritual clairvoyance, whatever you wish to call it, are not easy to come by for most. If we take steps to return the body to its more natural, more pure state, we can greatly enhance its capacity to receive spiritual experience and better feel the great mysteries and beauty of life.
The following a variety of measures you can take to enhance your everyday life and prepare the body to receive a spiritual experience.
Food – Eat naturally, with many raw natural foods, whole grains and organics. Significantly reduce and/or abstain from canned and processed foods, as well as refined sugars. Abstain from red meat and pork, and in its place turn to chicken, fish, eggs and natural foods for your protein, fatty acids and B12.
Drink – Reduce caffeinated beverages to one cup of coffee or tea per day, and significantly reduce or abstain from alcohol. Add warm water with lemon to your morning ritual, to boost the immune support system, balance pH and improve function of the digestive, lymph and urinary systems.
Detoxification – Practice fasting and other detox methods. The day of the fast, drink only water or vegetable broth from sunrise to sunset. During the absence of food, the body will systematically cleanse itself of everything except vital tissue, which helps the body to detoxify. Other ways to cleanse the body may also be beneficial, such as colonics, enemas and liver cleanses. An herbalist, acupuncturist or a doctor of Chinese medicine may have some ideas on which plants and teas can be useful when detoxifying.
Emotions – Approach emotions such as aggravation and anger with awareness, to control blood pressure and reduce stress in the body. When negative emotions arise, acknowledge them and then dissolve them using meditation techniques or simply “telling” them they are not needed. Practice kindness to others by proactively performing good deeds, without publicizing them. Cast aside expectations, and embrace the unexpected. Develop constant awareness of the emotional state to create space for improving reactions to situations that arise.
Breath – Breathe mindfully and deeply, which will lead to a calm and centered disposition. Turning to an ancient practice such as Yoga, qigong, tai chi or meditation will help achieve a centered, peaceful state, help you calm the breath, and allow you to channel your prana energy towards the reception of higher states of mind. Proper breathing greatly influences all aspects of life and is considered the foundation of good health and spiritual awareness.
Exercise – Perform physical exercise often to repair, loosen and open up the body. The body houses our complex nervous system, which is akin to a complex receiver of information. Re-energizing this important system with regular and varied exercise will help to receive information, however, it is wise to respect your limits and not overdo it. The improvements in blood flow and better health will positively affect all areas of life. Getting plenty of rest is also a key part of a healthy exercise regimen.
Our daily routines, how we act, what we eat, what we say, can be some of the hardest things to change, but taking small steps at first is a good way to start. Over time, it will become easier to live with conscious awareness, and, as a result, you will cultivate and liberate more of the positive qualities inherent in your true nature. Engaging mindfully these 6 influential aspects of life will improve your receptivity to the positive spiritual energies that are manifesting globally in this transformational time. What now may seem as difficult or impossible will become a new, sustainable behavior, allowing you to become part of the great shift.
I would like to explain to you how we are creating everything that is happening to us. I will also explain how our mind and body are connected. When you really get this you will hopefully have a light bulb moment and it will become clearer for you to see your way forward.
Everything (the process of creation) originates in our mind with our thoughts. The effect that our thoughts and perception has on our physical reality has been proven extensively by quantum physicists. The thoughts that we have then spark an emotion in us which creates the urge to speak or act. We basically attract situations, events or people to us that reflect our thoughts. It is called the Law of Attraction.
Thoughts Emotions Speak/Act
The Hall of One Thousand Mirrors (Cosmic Ordering Service, Barbel Mohr)
This story is a perfect illustration of this concept.
“Somewhere, in a land far away, there was a temple that housed a hall of one thousand mirrors. One day it so happened that a dog got lost in the temple and arrived at this hall. Suddenly confronted with one thousand of his mirror images, he growled and barked at these presumed enemies. These, however, returned his growling and teeth flashing a thousand times over. The dog in turn got even more aggressive. And as the situation got more and more heated, the dog got more and more out of control, and finally reached such an extreme state of aggression and exertion that he dropped dead.
“Some time passed, and along came another dog, who also got lost in the temple and arrived at the same hall of one thousand mirrors. This dog, too, saw that he was surrounded by one thousand dogs of his kind. He then started to wag his tail with joy at these other dogs and, in return, one thousand dogs happily wagged their tails back at him. Happy and encouraged, the dog found a way out of the temple.”
Life is mirror of our thoughts. Which way are you living?
Mind, Body and Spirit
Our emotions not only affect what we experience in our lives but also what happens in our physical body. This is not to say any experience, illness or disease is all “in your mind”, only that it originated in your mind, with your thoughts.
This concept might be a little difficult to grasp initially but once we understand it, the concept can be incredibly liberating. You see we are not powerless physical beings with little control over what happens to us in our lives. There is not some unexplainable reason or biological defect as to why we experience any physical discomfort. We are in fact powerful beings with the ability to create illness, but we also have great healing power, to heal ourselves and prevent future illness and disease.
Basically, our mind, body and spirit are all connected with everything originating in our minds. Once we understand the importance that our thoughts have on our physical well-being then we can take steps to change our thought processes and repair our physical body.
You see if we focused only on repairing the physical body without changing our thought processes or working on our spirit/soul, then we may heal our physical body only for the experience/aches/pains/illness/disease to return again. We must start somewhere but aim to heal all areas of life to be free from illness and disease. This might not be the quick fix you are looking for but is a longer-term commitment to your personal health, happiness and well-being.
Neuroscientist, Dr Candice Pert’s life work has led her to the conclusion that the mind/body is connected and gives full details in her book, Molecules of Emotion. The book clarifies that the immune system, endocrine system, nervous system, brain (all the main systems of the body) are in communication with each other through neuropeptides and their receptors, thus linking brain, body and behaviour.
Dr. Candice Pert concludes that the neuropeptides are molecules of emotion. They are produced primarily in the brain and are the brain chemicals of mood and behaviour which communicate with all of the bodily systems. This theory and its conclusions are readily received within the mind/body field and supports the Law of Attraction and the belief that everything originates with our thoughts. This in turn creates the emotion that influences our physiological response, our physical reality.
It highlights the importance of viewing the body as a whole and not separate. This is evident in the book, whereby the real progressions in science have been made when the “separate” areas of science began to work together in cohesion with each other (immunologists, pharmacologists, endocrinologists, neuroscientists).
Dr. Pert explains that there are nodal points in our body that are dense with neuropeptides. These nodal points of electrical and chemical activity receive, process and distribute information to and from the rest of the body. It is these which are referred to as the molecules of emotion. The nodal points run down the centre of your body as does your endocrine system and your nerve plexus. The endocrine system consists of seven glands which produce hormones in to the blood stream which are carried to organs and tissues in the body. The seven nerve plexuses are responsible for transmitting nerve impulses.
Interestingly these nodal points identified fit perfectly with the chakra/meridian energy system which is an eastern philosophy used by many energy healing practitioners. Chakra is a Sanskrit word and it means “wheel” or “vortex” because that is what it looks like.
Chakras are not physical, they are aspects of consciousness, solid balls of energy interpenetrating the physical body. The seven chakra energy centres that form part of the energy body run along the spine, located at the major points of the endocrine glands and human nervous system. It could be said that this is where spirit meets matter.
Many eastern, spiritual traditions use the chakras as part of their philosophy to increase consciousness. Part of the practices use balancing the energy/chakra systems as part of the teachings including yoga, acupuncture, and tai chi, and there are many therapies and treatments that use the energy through the chakra system aromatherapy, reiki, hands on healing, crystal therapy and many more.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson
A command and control leadership style may have its time and place. But at the negotiation table? You may find concession-making skills will work more in your favor. When I last spoke with negotiation expert George Kohlrieser, he eloquently compared the delicate dance between an animal trainer and animal to managing concessions during negotiations.
Concession making can be material or it can be in the relationship. If we’re in a heated debate in negotiation and you suddenly answer my question or you ask me a question, that’s a concession. I have to take time to reward that concession. It’s almost Pavlovian.
How do I train the person I’m talking with to respond to the law of reciprocity, being able to make concessions and be able to recognize when they’re given one? It may be a little concession, just answering questions, or by being cooperative.
My friend Alfredo is a wild animal trainer; he’s third generation. When he goes into that cage and cracks that whip, he wants to get their attention. Then the negotiation starts. He’s the boss. He’s in charge but he doesn’t dominate. It’s not command and control.
When he goes forward, the lion steps back and when the lion stops, Alfredo has to stop and step back. And then the lion relaxes and comes forward. And if Alfredo then moves forward one step, two steps, the lion steps back the same.
He can take those lions anywhere in that cage through the law of reciprocity; it’s a dance.
It’s all about the bonding. How you respect the animal? He has this whole philosophy of knowing the animal’s names, knowing their mood. Knowing what is going on in the group of lions that are there, or whatever wild animals he’s training.
But if he steps forward and the lion stops — he doesn’t make a concession — and Alfredo moves again, he’s likely to be attacked. It’s an act of aggression. It is what’s called iatrogenic violence. This very often happens with leaders. They push and they push. They don’t recognize concessions, and they don’t use this dance of give and take, the dance of bonding. The dance of flow.
Negotiation is a fun thing. It should be an enjoyable and it should be an exchange. It doesn’t have to be where you’re trying to destroy and get everything. It’s the ability to look for mutual gain.
Nature designed the social brain for face-to-face interactions – not the online world. So how do social brains interact when we’re sitting looking at a video monitor instead of directly at another person? We’ve had a major clue about the problems with this interface ever since the beginning of the Internet, when it was just scientists emailing on what was called the Arpanet. This clue is flaming. Flaming happens when someone is a little upset – or very upset – and with their amygdala in firm control, furiously types out a message and hits “send” before thinking about it – and that hijack hits the other person in their inbox. Now the more technical term for flaming is “cyber-disinhibition,” because we realize that the disconnect between the social brain and the video monitor releases the amygdala from the usual management by the more reasonable prefrontal areas.
The neural dynamic behind flaming is that the social brain has no feedback loop online: unless you are in a live, face-to-face teleconference, the social circuitry has no input. It doesn’t know how the other person is reacting so it can’t guide our response – do this, don’t do that – as it does automatically and instantly in face-to-face interactions. Instead of acting as a social radar, the social brain says nothing – and that unleashes the amygdala to flame if we’re having a hijack.
Even a phone call gives these circuits ample emotional cues from tone of voice to understand the emotional nuance of what you say. But email, for instance, lacks all these inputs.
I was talking recently to a consultant in Europe who had been called in by two tech companies who had a working alliance to jointly develop a new product line. There were two sets of engineers, each in their own building in different parts of town. They didn’t get together, they just emailed. And it had degenerated into flame wars. The project was going nowhere. So what did the consultant do? He got the two groups together offsite for two days, just to get to know each other person-to-person.
One reason why this personal connection matters so much for online communication has to do with the social brain/video monitor interface. When we’re at our keyboard and we think a message is positive, and we hit ‘send’, what we don’t realize at the neural level is that all the nonverbal cues – facial expression, tone of voice, gesture and so on – stay with us. There’s a negativity bias to email: when the sender thinks an email was positive, the receiver tends to see it as neutral. When the sender thinks it’s neutral, the receiver tends to interpret it as somewhat negative. The big exception is when you know the person well; that bond overcomes the negativity bias.
Clay Shirky, who studies social networks and the web at New York University, was telling me about an example of a global bank security team that had to operate 24 hours a day. He said in order for them to operate well, it was critical that they use what he calls a banyan tree model, where key members of each group got together and met key members of every other group, so that in an emergency they can contact each other and get a clear sense of how to evaluate the message each group was sending. If someone in the receiving group knows that person well, or has a contact there whom he can ask about the person who sent the message, then the receiving group can better gauge how much to rely on it.
One enormous upside of the web, of course, is what you might call “brain 2.0.” As Shirky points out, the potential for social networking to multiply our intellectual capital is enormous. It’s a sort of super-brain, the extended brain on the web.
The term “group IQ” refers to the sum total of the best talents of each person on a team, or in a group, contributed at full force. It turns out that one factor that makes the actual group IQ less than its potential is lack of interpersonal harmony in the group. Vanessa Druskat at the University of New Hampshire has studied what she calls “group EQ” – things like being able to surface and resolve conflicts among the group, high levels of trust and mutual understanding. Her research shows that groups with the highest collective emotional intelligence outperform the others.
When you apply that to groups working together online, one core operating principle is that the more channels that come into the social brain, the more easily attuned you can be. So if you video-conference, you have visual, body and voice cues. Even if it’s a conference call, the voice is extraordinarily rich in emotional cues. In any case, if you’re working together just through text, it’s best when you know the other person well, or at least have some sense of them in order to have a context for reading their messages, so you can overcome the negativity bias. And best of all is leaving your office or cubicle and getting together to talk with the person.