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  1. Sep 2015
    1. Bonobos are less brutal, but in their case, too, empathy needs to pass through several filters before it will be expressed. Often, the filters prevent expressions of empathy because no ape can afford feeling pity for all living things all the time. This applies equally to humans. Our evolutionary background makes it hard to identify with outsiders. We’ve evolved to hate our enemies, to ignore people we barely know, and to distrust anybody who doesn’t look like us. Even if we are largely cooperative within our communities, we become almost a different animal in our treatment of strangers.
    2. Within a bottom-up framework, the focus is not so much on the highest levels of empathy, but rather on its simplest forms, and how these combine with increased cognition to produce more complex forms of empathy. How did this transformation take place? The evolution of empathy runs from shared emotions and intentions between individuals to a greater self/other distinction—that is, an “unblurring” of the lines between individuals. As a result, one’s own experience is distinguished from that of another person, even though at the same time we are vicariously affected by the other’s. This process culminates in a cognitive appraisal of the other’s behavior and situation: We adopt the other’s perspective.

      This reminds me of Dan Gilbert)'s (and others) notions of the mind being a simulator.

    3. Having descended from a long line of mothers who nursed, fed, cleaned, carried, comforted, and defended their young, we should not be surprised by gender differences in human empathy, such as those proposed to explain the disproportionate rate of boys affected by autism, which is marked by a lack of social communication skills.
    4. Consolation is defined as friendly or reassuring behavior by a bystander toward a victim of aggression. For example, chimpanzee A attacks chimpanzee B, after which bystander C comes over and embraces or grooms B. Based on hundreds of such observations, we know that consolation occurs regularly and exceeds baseline levels of contact. In other words, it is a demonstrable tendency that probably reflects empathy, since the objective of the consoler seems to be to alleviate the distress of the other. In fact, the usual effect of this kind of behavior is that it stops screaming, yelping, and other signs of distress.
    5. rhesus monkeys refused to pull a chain that delivered food to themselves if doing so gave a shock to a companion. One monkey stopped pulling the chain for 12 days after witnessing another monkey receive a shock. Those primates were literally starving themselves to avoid shocking another animal.

      Led by Jules Masserman

    6. This capacity likely evolved because it served our ancestors’ survival in two ways. First, like every mammal, we need to be sensitive to the needs of our offspring. Second, our species depends on cooperation, which means that we do better if we are surrounded by healthy, capable group mates. Taking care of them is just a matter of enlightened self-interest.
    7. The act of perspective-taking is summed up by one of the most enduring definitions of empathy that we have, formulated by Adam Smith as “changing places in fancy with the sufferer.”

      Even Smith, the father of economics, best known for emphasizing self-interest as the lifeblood of human economy, understood that the concepts of self-interest and empathy don’t conflict.

    8. people may have an inborn biological propensity to be more sensitive to social input, and still learn when, how, and where to use this ability from life experience.

      Empathy has both inborn and learned components.

    9. Percy Shelley says is“the great secret of morals is love; or a going out of your own nature and anidentification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action,or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely andcomprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others;the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument ofmoral good is the imagination.”
    10. There’s neuroscientifc studies thatshow that when people play games together and earn an award, there’s a greateractivation of their dopamine reward circuitry than when they earn that same awardon their own.
    11. differentiate something called empathic concern from something called empathicdistress and what it turns out is that empathic concern is associated with all kindsof benefits people who experience empathic concern are more likely to help, they’rebetter at regulating their own emotions they’re more stable and socially functionalin life whereas people who experience empathic distress have other issues andstruggles that we can flesh out in later weeks. The interesting thing about thisbody of work is that it anticipates are next week of material which will be aboutcompassion and compassion is really what elevates empathy from the potential forempathic distress


      • empathic concern
      • empathic distress

      I had a bit of trouble parsing the last bit but I think she is saying compassion is a higher form of empathy which has "walled off" empathic distress.

    12. So when we look at what happens inthe brain, when people are viewing images of other people in pain what we see is aspecific set of structures that systematically represent that state of being moved bythatso the activation is typically in the interior insula and the medial prefrontal corticesand the insula is important for representing visceral activation so once again yoursadness or your pain or your suffering causes me to get aroused something happensin my body in response to that and my midline activation is typically implicatedin being concerned or trying to understand what that means like what is it to mewhat is this feeling that I’m having in my body usually mean? And those are themechanisms that are involved in affective empathy. Cognitive empathy involvesa wider range of structures, distributed around the cerebral cortex and they’reinvolved in visual expertise and again a self referential knowledge, what is thisparticular moment mean related to my memories about the world or my historicknowledge. So there are separate structures separate systems that are involved inthese two different ways that we can learn to know other people.

      Long story short: affective and cognitive empathy involve different parts of the brain.

    13. many scientists often identify two types of empathy: "affective empathy," which refers to the sensations and feelings we have in response to others’ expressions, and "cognitive empathy," which refers to our ability to label and understand other people's emotions--and even take their perspective on things.


      • affective empathy
      • cognitive empathy
    14. Think of taking a yoga class or a dance class. If you had to do this with the teachersimply explaining step by step verbally what to do it would be much morechallenging than it is when the teacher actually demonstrates it physically andthat’s precisely because of your mirror neurons that are helping you simulate andrepresent that motion prior to actually trying to do it.

      Term: mirror neurons

    15. shown when you block ones ability tomimic a face a facial expression of somebody that’s in front of them by having them,say, bite on a pencil so they can’t use their facial muscles in a spontaneous way,they’re not as good at recognizing the expressions that they see.
    1. You can “bank” positivity resonance and draw on it later because momentary experiences of love and other positive emotions build resources. In other words, the small investments you deposit in the so- called bank don’t just sit there. They accumulate, earn interest, and pay out dividends in the form of durable resources that you can later draw on to face a new adversity. Moreover, just as money earned in one arena can be spent in other arenas, the positivity resonance that you create within certain relationships can build personal resources in you—values, beliefs, and skills—that help you navigate all manner of social upsets and difficulties. Having a loving marriage, then, can help you be more resilient within your work team.
    2. Whereas many people express their appreciation to others by shining a spotlight on the benefit they received—the gift, favor, or the kind deed itself—we discovered that, by contrast, the best “thank-yous” simply use the benefit as a spring- board toward shining a spotlight on the good qualities of the other person, their benefactor.


      Relevant quote from link:

      Sure you love those striped socks your partner got you. But rather than just gushing over how excited you are to try them on, mention how much you appreciate that your partner knows you well enough to pick out a great gift for you, and how he or she always seems to be so good at getting you exactly what you want. The bottom line: Focusing on your partner—and not just their act of kindness—can help you remember how great they are and help them feel truly appreciated.

    3. dancing or canoeing could be better bets for first-date bonding than simply catching a movie or sharing a meal. But the glue that positivity resonance offers isn’t just for connecting once-strangers at the start of new relationships. It also further cements long-standing ties, making them even more secure and satisfying.
    4. When you especially resonate with someone else, the two of you are quite literally on the same wavelength, biologically. True connection is one of love’s bedrock prerequisites—and a prime reason that love is not unconditional. True connection is physical and unfolds in real time; it is neither abstract nor mediated. It requires a sensory and temporal co-presence of bodies.
    5. Bonds last. Love doesn’t. The good news is that love is a renewable resource. That bond I share with Jeff forges a deep and abiding sense of safety within our relationship, a safety that tills the soil for frequent moments of love. Knowing now that, from our bodies’ perspective, love is positivity resonance—nutrient-rich bursts that accrue to make Jeff, me, and the bond we share healthier—shakes us out of any complacency that tempts us to take our love for granted, as a mere attribute of our relationship.
    6. I’ve concluded that love, as your body sees it, is the momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events: A sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another; A synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors; A reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care. My shorthand for this trio is positivity resonance. This back-and-forth reverberation of positive energy sustains itself—and can even grow stronger—until the momentary connection wanes—which is of course inevitable, because that’s how emotions work.
    7. We were surprised and quite pleasedto learn that people develop friendships across group boundaries pretty easily. However, theirstress levels continued to be high during these periods.It was only after the third 45-minute session that this friendship manipulation happened,that people's stress levels began to go down, but afterwards, two weeks later, a month later,after the experiment was over, people reported that they felt more comfortable, and moreat ease, interacting with members from other groups. Furthermore, they sought out interactionswith members from other groups.
    8. but it turns out that they have a physiologicalcost to the person who is prejudiced. Why? Quite simply because being prejudiced canbe very stressful when one is interacting with members from the outgroup.
    9. As important as close relationships are, weaker ties also have their place. Research suggests that people who have a broad range of different kinds of social roles tend to be healthier and more likely to attain professional success.
    10. Since support can often become unequal, thus creating ingratitude and resentment, sometimes the most effective support is invisible—meaning that it is not experienced as support per se, but rather as a gesture of caring that is not costly or burdensome to the giver. For example, a person might choose to sacrifice work time to spend a romantic evening with their partner who has had a rough week, but this form of support will likely be better received if the person does not emphasize their sacrifice, but rather communicates a genuine desire to spend time with their partner. At the same time, however, Greater Good contributor Amie Gordon’s research shows that appreciation is a critical ingredient in healthy relationships, so it’s not always a bad thing to notice your partner’s sacrifices or to make sure that they know that you’re putting them first.
    11. Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History has argued that the best way to maintain a strong, healthy marriage is to have a strong network of friends with whom we share common interests and can turn to when in need. While it might be tempting to be jealous of time your partner spends with friends, or possessive of his or her time, it’s healthier to see your partner’s friends as an asset to your relationship. They provide critical psychological support to your partner and an outlet for interests that you might not share. But your partner’s friendships are also a form of social capital for you—and it will pay to help your partner keep those networks going.
    12. Significant others can deepen and broaden our social worlds, but they also carry the risk of creating a sense of insularity and disconnection from other parts of our social life. Staying in and watching a movie with our significant other can seem a lot more relaxing after a long week of work than attending a social event, but if we do this week after week, our other relationships may start to erode, decreasing our overall social capital. No matter how much we love our significant others, it’s unlikely that they alone can meet all of our social needs, and expecting them to do so can be damaging to the relationship over time.
    13. Beyond the benefits we receive directly from our significant others in the form of support and comfort, our significant others also have the potential to introduce us to a whole new social network, the friendships and other connections that our partner has developed over the years. When we enter a partnership our networks double—our partner’s connections become ours as well, and vice versa.
    14. Support in times of need is one of the major benefits of what researchers call bonding capital. Bonding capital may not give us the breadth and diversity of looser bridging-focused ties, but it gives us the closeness and intimacy that even 10,000 Twitter followers might not provide.
    15. For many people, there is one special person to whom they feel closest—often a romantic partner, but sometimes a best friend or family member. Significant others are the first people we turn to when we’re suffering, and their support can benefit not only our mental health but also our physical health:
    16. At times, however, friendship can be a source of jealousy and competition. According to a psychological theory called the self-evaluation maintenance model, we tend to be happy for our friends' success, but only if the success is not in a domain that is also important to us, and only if the friend is not too close. If our friends' successes threaten our own self-esteem, we may distance ourselves from them or even try to sabotage them. Friendship can also be a liability if we base our self-worth on our friends’ approval: For individuals high in friendship-contingent self-esteem, depending too much on friends can make our self-esteem unstable and increase symptoms of depression. Building social capital with friends. How can we make the most of our friendships? One approach is to be mindful of the subtle ways that jealousy can erode friendship and to find ways to reframe friends’ potentially threatening successes in a way that highlights shared benefits (e.g., your friend might be able to help you improve and reach your own goals) and that involves taking your friends’ perspective. Friends need our support and encouragement just as much when they are up as when they are down, according to research.
    17. friendships that cross ethnic group boundaries can help reduce anxiety and potentially even improve physical health among people who tend to feel anxious in intergroup settings
    18. What are they good for? Friendship helps us meet our needs for belonging and our need to feel known and appreciated for who we are. It also allows us to know and understand others more deeply than we can know strangers: Research suggests that our friends bring out the best in us when it comes to empathic accuracy, or the ability to know and understand another person’s thoughts and feelings.
    19. studies show that people with a large amount of bridging capital have a greater sense of connection to the broader community, a more open-minded attitude, and a greater ability to mobilize support for a cause.
    20. Professional contacts can play an integral role in helping us launch or advance our careers. You might learn that your dream employer is hiring through a post from a seemingly random LinkedIn contact, or meet your future business partner through a colleague at a conference. Researchers have referred to these kinds of ties, as well as other types of looser connections such as neighborhood acquaintances, as bridging capital. Bridging capital may involve weaker ties, but the breadth and diversity of these ties can expose us to new ideas and opportunities beyond what is available in our narrower inner circles.
    21. In short, it pays to be a giver on social media, not just a lurker or a taker.
    22. What are their limitations? Facebook is no cure for loneliness, and the positive feelings gained may be short-lived. Though online contacts can be great when it comes to sharing everyday joys and challenges, there are times when no sympathetic emoticons can replace the comfort of a loved one’s physical presence. Using social media effectively requires knowing its limitations, and, as with a flaky friend, not expecting more from it than it can give.
    23.  Studies suggest that online communication may especially benefit less extraverted individuals by giving them opportunities to provide support to others in a non-threatening environment, an experience that can in turn increase self-esteem and reduce depression. Contrary to popular opinion, research also shows that using Facebook can help satisfy our need for connection.
    24. found time andtime again if I have really rich patterns of friendships I feel less stress on a dailybasis I have lower levels of he stress hormone cortisol so its starting to affect ourstress profiles
    25. and what we know is tight connections tofriends are one of the great determinants of happiness and health. The strongerthe networks of friends that we have the greater the happiness and well being weenjoy in just about every part of the world. We know that strong friendships areassociated with better health profiles.
    26. influential theorizing that I want you to be mindful of of Shelley Taylor, showing thatour tendencies toward friendship and connection activate oxytocin and counteractthe responses of stress so we start to get a picture of why friendships matter.
    27. Research suggests that the number of close friends people report having has declined by one-third over the past generation (at least in the United States).
    28. “Our review of the literature reveals the hazards of providing blanket answers regarding the association between parenthood and well-being at the broadest level,” they write, “particularly when those answers involve comparing all types of parents with all types of non-parents.”
    29. happy parents often mean happy kids: Research has shown that happier parents engage in more positive parental behaviors and also influence positive outcomes in their children, like their child’s motivation, achievement, and relationships with peers.
    30. Overall, parents with greater sources of social support tend to experience greater well-being. The importance of being employed is less clear-cut: Research suggests that employment likely enhances well-being by offsetting the financial strain of having a child, but reduces well-being by adding a time strain that makes it difficult to balance home and work life. Interestingly, studies also suggest that people of higher socioeconomic status benefit less from being parents because they often have goals of personal achievement that conflict with the time burdens of parenthood.
    31. Consistent with that finding, studies have found that parents of young children (up to age seven) report spending more time on housework and feel less able than non-parents to complete tasks and meet their goals. As Nelson and her colleagues point out, having young children tends to mean more sleep disturbance, more housework, and more distress—not a recipe for happiness. They also note that some research suggests parents’ well-being stays relatively low until their child leaves home. However, the research paints a different picture for parents once their kids grow up, particularly when they have positive relationships with those kids. Parents also seem to fare better when their adult children provide them with social support—and grandchildren. “This evidence suggests that if parents can weather the stresses of raising young children,” write the authors, “they will reap benefits when their children are relatively older.” 
    32. parents who do not feel secure in relationships seem to be more susceptible to declines in their relationship with their spouse during the transition to parenthood. Though more research is also needed here, the researchers suggest that this marital decline could, in turn, lead to less happiness in parenthood.
    33. number one is contempt, when you look down uponyou’re partner or you feel they’re not worthy or you don’t dignify them and youmayroll your eyes or pthhh sort of do that sound when they’re speaking, bad news.Number two is criticism, instead of kind of thinking about collaborativeconversation or praise, when you’re more inclined as your first tendency to criticizeto fault find to cavil or carp or bring out problems, bad news for the relationship.Number three is stonewalling and this is a patterns of behavior a little bit morecommon in the men in this study where the individual might put out their handand say you know we’ve already talked about that I know our son is struggling inschool we don’t need to talk about that anymore they just shut down conversation,stonewalling. And finally, the fourth toxic behavior is what Gottman and Levensoncall defensiveness which is kind of a counter punch approach to conversation

      The "four horsemen of the apocalypse" for romantic relationships; relationships featuring all four of these traits have a 92% chance of ending in 10 years.

    34. “Basically, life events do matter,” Yap says. “Things like marriage, childhood, widowhood, unemployment do matter in the short-term. But in some cases, these life events don’t have long-lasting implications on psychological adjustment.” “One thing you can take away from the study,” he adds, “is that, on average, marriage seems to be a good thing.”
    1. Active listening helps listeners better understand others’ perspectives and helps speakers feel more understood and less threatened. This technique can prevent miscommunication and spare hurt feelings on both sides. By improving communication and preventing arguments from escalating, active listening can make relationships more enduring and satisfying. Practicing active listening with someone close to you can also help you listen better when interacting with other people in your life, such as students, co-workers, or roommates.

      I seem to recall reading (probably a Quora response) about the best salesman being a fellow who didn't try to actively sell anything, but just "actively" (i.e. clarifying questions in the right places) listened to his clients. He'd then put the pieces together later after finding out what they needed.

      While that is likely part of it, another part seems to be that this is simply a preferred mode of communication.

    1. The movie "Happy" (http://www.thehappymovie.com) claims that there is something about movement that stimulates feelings of happiness in people in a very direct physiological way. Watching children and animals, it is not a stretch to see a natural connection between joy and movement for living beings. Many great thinkers have noted that the happiness that humans seek is the feeling of aliveness. It seems to me that movement is the very symbol and epitome of being alive - at a very basic physical level, it is the foundation for freedom, empowerment, and generative power. Thus, if one is not enjoying movement, then one is feeling the opposite of aliveness - burdened and enslaved by it. I think it's as simple as that - if you feel enslaved by any activity or anything, it cannot contribute to your sense of liberty and aliveness, can it? Until you can feel movement to be a liberating enlivening thing, it cannot increase your happiness and will actually do the opposite, drag you down.The good news, however, is that we all really enjoy movement, naturally, but have just forgotten - we have turned exercise into a job, an obligation, and forgotten the joy we once felt in it as children. I think everyone can recapture that joy, if they can find the right context and the right kind of movement to enjoy again, and if they can shift their perspective to movement as a source of potential pleasure rather than pain or boredom.

      This reminds me somewhat of the "Primal" notion of play.

    1. Real Time Questions for Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Barbara Fredrickson


      1. Frequency of (e.g. minor) positive emotions more important than the intensity of positive emotions.

      2. Different cultures emphasize different positive emotions e.g serenity in the east vs enthusiasm in the west; as well as sources (e.g. "i'm fitting in!" vs "i'm standing out!").

      3. Having lots of connections not as important as having one or two meaningful interactions (confidants).

      4. Introverts still benefit from interaction, but need to regain energy by being alone.

      5. After reporting on emotions at the end of the day, asking oneself about what 3 longest social interactions of the day were, and how close and in-tune you felt with people, can actually drive positive emotions and measures of health upward.

      6. Prioritizing positivity is highly effective.

      7. Resonance in emotions while conversing can occur, and also can induce physiological mirroring like oxytocin patterns being similar.

      8. Positive emotions give you a big picture and allow for creative thinking, but a neutral or negative state is better for critical analysis. Luckily most normal people use both at different times.

      9. Barbara is currently researching if increasing positivity increases the occurrence of other positive behaviors (e.g. fitness, health).

    1. In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch.

      To summarize:

      1. Sense emotions by touch only (though some difficulties with gender barriers for angered women and compassionate men).
      2. Much healthier (even granting survival) children in orphanages who are held.
      3. Differences in culture for cafe convo, # of touches: England, 0; USA, 2; France, 110; Puerto Rico, 180.
      4. NBA teams that touch more are more likely to win.
      5. A pat on the back by researcher heavily sways prisoner's dilemma participants.
    2. If we have evidence that someone is deceiving us, we can withdraw trust and resources no matter how high we are on oxytocin. If we think someone doesn’t have our best interests at heart, we can end the relationship with a person or a group. But the effects go beyond self-interest. We may like being part of a group so much that we’re willing to hurt others just to stay in it. The desire to belong can compromise our ethical and empathic instincts. That’s when the conscious mind needs to come online and put the brakes on the pleasures of social affliliation.
    3. increased oxytocin did not predict where they donated their money. But there are some caveats. The more marginalized a group felt on campus, the more likely they were to circle their wagons and favor their own in-group (presumably, the band nerds weren’t as generous as frat boys to other groups). The effects of oxytocin could also change depending on what else was happening in the body: If Zak’s lab induced stress or acted to jack up testosterone, participants could, in fact, become more aggressive toward out-groups.
    4. oxytocin is involved with attachment and social bonding, but that neural system can get tangled up in fear and anxiety—it gives us a visceral memory of those who have harmed us, as well as those who have cared for us.
    5. oxytocin doesn’t simply make you all lovey-dovey, suggests this study. It also keeps you faithful to your partner—and wary of her rivals.
    6. Each group watched a series of images and the individuals in the group voted for which ones they found most attractive. The results: The oxytocin-influenced participants tended to go with the flow of their group, while the placebo-dosed participants hewed to their own individualistic path. The implication: Oxytocin is great when you’re out with friends or solving a problem with coworkers. It might not be so great when you need to pick a leader or make some other big decision that requires independence, not conformity.
    7. oxytocin doesn’t just bond us to mothers, lovers, and friends—it also seems to play a role in excluding others from that bond. (And perhaps, as one scientist has argued, wanting what other people have.) This just makes oxytocin more interesting—and it points to a fundamental, constantly recurring fact about human beings: Many of the same biological and psychological mechanisms that bond us together can also tear us apart. It all depends on the social and emotional context.
    1. It’s important to keep in mind as well that secure attachment in intimate relationships doesn’t just make those relationships more fulfilling; there’s evidence that it can enhance interactions even with those with whom you’re not close. Research indicates that “boosting” one’s security in any fashion (“security priming” in psychology circles) makes people more generous and compassionate overall. This study by leading attachment researchers indicates that “the sense of attachment security, whether established in a person’s long-term relationship history or nudged upwards by subliminal or supraliminal priming, makes altruistic caregiving more likely.”
    2. People in the study who felt securely attached to their parents seemed more soothed in a stressful situation when their partner provided emotional care, such as by being nurturing, expressing emotional intimacy, or encouraging them to talk about their emotions or experiences relevant to the problem. However, people with a dismissive/avoidant attachment style were more soothed when their partner offered "instrumental" caregiving, meaning that they gave specific, concrete advice or suggestions about how to solve the problem, or discussed the problem in an intellectual, rational way.
    3. They have found that when people with an anxious attachment style have a romantic partner who consistently seems committed to them, they feel less anxious and insecure. "Highly committed partners, in other words, may diminish an individual's insecurity over time by consistently providing a 'secure base,'" write Simpson and his colleague SiSi Tran of Vassar College.
    4. For instance, insecurely attached people generally display less kind, helpful (or "pro-social") behavior toward others. But when Mikulincer and Shaver had insecurely attached people think of someone who made them feel safe and secure, those research participants demonstrated more care and compassion toward people in need.
    1. We found that measures of family socioeconomic status had no significant correlation at all with later success in any of these areas. Alcoholism and depression in family histories proved irrelevant to flourishing at 80, as did longevity. The sociability and extraversion that were so highly valued in the initial process of selecting the men did not correlate with later flourishing either. In contrast with the weak and scattershot correlations among the biological and socioeconomic variables, a loving childhood—and other factors like empathic capacity and warm relationships as a young adult—predicted later success in all ten categories of the Decathlon. What’s more, success in relationships was very highly correlated with both economic success and strong mental and physical health, the other two broad areas of the Decathlon.

      From the Grant Study.

    1. When we’re feeling down, the instinct is often to vent to friends. It’s good to have a support system, but if that’s all there is, it’s hard to get distance from what’s bothering you. Doing things for other people, thinking about other people, is like giving your brain a break from despair.”

      This reminds of a quote from George Pólya's book, How to Solve It, in which he states that if you don't know how to solve a problem, try to solve a smaller problem.

      Not exactly the same thing, but indirectly solving problems in other peoples lives may give you a sense of accomplishment, or meaning, that you need.

    2. “The narrow thinking that medications are the only way to control persistent pain,” Dr. Arnstein concluded, “has resulted in a lot of suffering.” Researchers have discovered a physiological basis for the warm glow that often seems to accompany giving. “The benefits of giving back are definitely biological,” says bioethicist Stephen G. Post, co-author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People. “Contemporary neuroscience has confirmed the connection between the physiological and psychological. We know now that the stress response, hormones, and even the immune system are impacted by, and impact, the pathways in the brain. MRI studies of the participants’ brains revealed that making a donation activated the mesolimbic pathway—the brain’s reward center.”
    3. People who were in better physical and mental health were more likely to volunteer,” reported the study’s leader, Peggy Thoits, a Vanderbilt University sociologist. “And conversely, volunteer work was good for both mental and physical health. People of all ages who volunteered were happier and experienced better physical health and less depression.
    4. Philosopher-physician Albert Schweitzer once said, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

      Another Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time) reference: the most esteemed organization of an ancient, advanced civilization was the Hall of the Servants).

    1. A lifelong friendship usually feels different than a casual acquaintance you make at a networking event or a friend you acquire on Facebook. Yet according to research, we need both weak ties and strong ties in order to build “social capital,” which researchers define as the web of relationships in our life and the tangible and intangible benefits we derive from them.
    1. Along these lines, they go on to propose the development of a “social curriculum” with programs and activities that “enhance social inclusion and connection.” For ideas and techniques to make that happen, please see Greater Good’s education channel!
    2. from the time kids were 15 or 18, being more outgoing, kind, independent, good at sports, and having lots of hobbies—in other words, being more socially connected—was more significant than academic success in predicting later happiness.
    3. experiences that were most highly associated with positive emotion was number one intimaterelations but number two socializing
    4. what they found you know overall was that very happy people tended to haverich and satisfying relationships and the spend little time alonerelative to people with average levels of happinessand what they sort of claim is a social relationships form a necessarybut not sufficient condition for high happiness in other wordsyou can't only have social relationships but if you don't havestrong social relationships you're not likely to end upa person who would be characterized as very happy
    1. before we start our morning, the very first thing we do is think of three things we are grateful for that day. In this TED talk, you will learn the five positive psychology habits that help inoculate your brain against the negative mindsets of others: 1)writing a 2-minute email praising someone you know; 2) writing down three things for which you’re grateful; 3) journaling about a positive experience for two minutes; 4) doing cardio exercise for 30 minutes; or 5) meditating for just two minutes.
    2. One of the greatest buffers against picking up others’ stress is stable and strong self-esteem. The higher your self-esteem, the more likely you will feel that you can deal with whatever situation you face. If you are finding yourself being impacted by others’ moods, stop and remind yourself how things are going well and that you can handle anything that comes your way. Exercise is one of the best ways to build self-esteem, because your brain records a victory every time you exercise, via endorphins.
    3. Instead of returning a harried coworkers’ stressed nonverbals with an equally stressed grimace of your own, return it with a smile or a nod of understanding. Suddenly you have the power. As suggested in the new book Broadcasting Happiness, you can create a “power lead” to short-circuit a negative encounter.
    4. if you create a positive mindset about stress and stop fighting it, you experience a 23% drop in the negative effects of stress. When we see stress as a threat, our bodies and minds miss out on the enhancing effects of stress. (Even at high levels, stress can create greater mental toughness, deeper relationships, heightened awareness, new perspectives, a sense of mastery, a greater appreciation for life, a heightened sense of meaning, and strengthened priorities.)  Instead of fighting and being frustrated at negative people around you, take it as an opportunity to feel compassion or a challenge to help that person become more positive. Our HBR article “Making Stress Work for You” includes more ideas on how to change your stress mindset to a more positive one.
    5. In our highly connected working world, we are hyper-exposed to other people. This means negative emotions and stress become even more contagious as we have high exposure to negative comments on news articles and social media; stressed body language of financial news shows; stressed out people on our subways and planes; and open office plans where you can see everyone’s nonverbals.
    6. New research shows that stress causes people to sweat special stress hormones, which are picked up by the olfactory senses of others. Your brain can even detect whether the “alarm pheromones” were released due to low stress or high stress. Negativity and stress can literally waft into your cubicle.
    7. secondhand stress is a result of our hardwired ability to perceive potential threats in our environment.
    8. Observing someone who is stressed — especially a coworker or family member — can have an immediate effect upon our own nervous systems. A separate group of researchers found that 26% of people showed elevated levels of cortisol just by observing someone who was stressed. Secondhand stress is much more contagious from a romantic partner (40%) than a stranger, but when observers watched a stressful event on video with strangers, 24% still showed a stress response. (This makes us question whether we, as happiness researchers, should watch Breaking Bad before going to sleep.)
    1. The most basic issues are exercise, sleep, and having a senseof achievement,

      The most essential requirements for happiness, along with social connection, which can probably be thought of as the next tier after these basic requirements.

    2. Prioritizing positivity: Deliberately organizing your day-to-day life so that it contains situations that naturally give rise to positive emotional experiences. Laura Catalino, Sara Algoe and Barbara Fredrickson's study compares pursuing happiness to prioritizing positivity, and their results suggest that prioritizing positivity is a more promising approach to boosting happiness. 
    3. Hedonic adaptation (aka the "hedonic treadmill"): Our ability to adapt to changes in our life circumstances or sensory experiences. Research suggests many of us have a remarkable ability to get used to things that might initially bring us pleasure, such as getting married or winning the lottery, and even to eventually return to our happiness set point after a traumatic accident.
    4. Set point theory: The theory that we each have a relatively stable level of happiness that is largely determined by our genes and personality. Though we might experience some fluctuations in happiness due to events big and small, this theory holds that we eventually return to our basic set point of happiness.
    5. Impact bias: The tendency to overestimate how an event or experience in the future will affect our emotional well-being, for better or worse. For instance, we often underestimate our ability to recover from difficult experiences
    6. Affective forecasting: The process of making predictions about how you will feel in the future. According to Daniel Gilbert, who coined the term "affective forecasting" with his colleague Timothy Wilson, affective forecasting is simply "the process by which people look into their future and make predictions about what they’ll like and what they won’t like." However, as Emiliana explained in the previous video, we are often poor judges in the present of what will bring us happiness in the future, causing us to look for happiness in the wrong places.
    1. here are two activities that, research has shown, elicit positive emotions in most people: connecting with a loved one and doing something physically active
    2. Letting go of wanting to feel happy all the time also encourages less self-consciousness about happiness. This may be helpful because many peak, pleasant experiences, characterized by total absorption in an activity, a phenomenon known as “flow,” are marked by a lack of self-awareness.
    3. The “highs” we get from one-time events like going on vacation or winning a prize wear off over time. As a result, effectively pursuing happiness may require engaging regularly in behaviors that promote happiness. By its nature, prioritizing positivity increases the chance that we will weave these positive behaviors into our daily lives rather than just maintaining a general desire for happiness or expecting it to come from a few isolated events.
    1. By remembering and listing three positive things that have happened in your day--and considering what caused them--you tune into the sources of goodness in your life. It's a habit that can change the emotional tone of your life, replacing feelings of disappointment or entitlement with those of gratitude--which may be why this practice is associated with significant increases in happiness.
    1. Mauss shows that the more people strive for happiness, the more likely they will be to set a high standard for happiness—then be disappointed when that standard is not met.  This is especially true when people were in positive contexts, such as listening to an upbeat song or watching a positive film clip. It is as if the harder one tries to experience happiness, the more difficult it is to actually feel happy, even in otherwise pleasant situations. My colleagues and I are are building on this research, which suggests that the pursuit of happiness is also associated with serious mental health problems, such as depression and bipolar disorder. It may be that striving for happiness is actually driving some of us crazy.
    2. As psychologist Charles Carver has argued, positive emotions like happiness signal to us that our goals are being fulfilled, which enables us to slow down, step back, and mentally coast. That’s why happiness can actually hurt us in competition. Illuminating studies done by Maya Tamir found that people in a happy mood performed worse than people in an angry mood when playing a competitive computer game.
    3. Not only does excessive happiness sometimes wipe out its benefits for us—it may actually lead to psychological harm. Why? The answer may lie in the purpose and function of happiness. When we experience happiness, our attention turns toward exciting and positive things in our lives to help sustain the good feeling. When feeling happy, we also tend to feel less inhibited and more likely to explore new possibilities and take risks.
    4. I love this quote from the Tao Te Chingof Lao Tzu that brings into focus the paradoxical nature of happiness and meaning and some counterintuitivenotions. In this quote Lao Tzu writes "When man is born he is tender and weak. At deathhe is stiff and hard. All things, as well as the grass and the trees, tender and subtlewhile alive, when dead, withered and dried. Therefore, the tender and the weak are thecompanions of life and the stiff and the hard are companions of death." It's a littlebit paradoxical: weakness and tenderness may be the pathway to life and the Tao and themysterious force of life. And again, challenging us to put aside preconceptions to find happiness.

      This really reminds me of the struggle of Rand Al'Thor in book 12-13 of The Wheel of Time; perhaps Robert Jordan was influenced by this, as he mentioned sampling many religions for his writings.

    5. seeking happiness without meaning would probably be a stressful, aggravating, and annoying proposition, argues Baumeister. Instead, when aspiring to a well-lived life, it might make more sense to look for things you find meaningful—deep relationships, altruism, and purposeful self-expression, for example—than to look for pleasure alone… even if pleasure augments one’s sense of meaning, as King suggests. “Work toward long-term goals; do things that society holds in high regard—for achievement or moral reasons,” he says. “You draw meaning from a larger context, so you need to look beyond yourself to find the purpose in what you’re doing.”
    6. As University of Pennsylvania psychologist James Coyne—according to Dunn, a statistical “hardhead”—wrote in a 2013 blog post, trying to distinguish eudaimonic well-being by controlling for hedonic well-being and other factors leaves you with something that’s not really eudaimonia at all. He compares it to taking a photo of siblings who look alike, removing everything that makes them resemble each other, and then still calling the photos representative of the siblings.
    7. findings that showed subjects randomly assigned to buy items for charity reported higher levels of positive emotion—a measure of hedonic happiness—than participants assigned to buy the same items for themselves, even when the spending did not build or strengthen social ties. “I think my own work really supports the idea that eudaimonic and hedonic well-being are surprisingly similar and aren’t as different as one might expect,” says Dunn. “To say that there’s one pathway to meaning, and that it’s different than the pathway to pleasure, is false.” Like Lyubomirsky, she insists that meaning and happiness go hand-in-hand. She points to the work of researchers who’ve found that positive emotions can help establish deeper social ties—which many argue is the most meaningful part of life—and to University of Missouri psychologist Laura King’s research, which found that feeling positive emotions helps people see the “big picture” and notice patterns, which can help one aim for more meaningful pursuits and interpret one’s experience as meaningful.

      emphasis on:

      1. charity contributed directly to pleasure, even without social ties.
      2. positive emotions strengthen social ties, which many view to be the most meaningful parts of life.

      Interesting that these are someone disconnected avenues: giving can induce pleasure, without social ties, but social ties are possibly the most meaningful part of life. Perhaps our evolution did not require us to consider the full chain of events, but it is also possible that these are both simply avenues to increase meaning, and in so doing, increase pleasure. Also, the type of happiness received as found by Dunn in each instance contradicts others' findings, so it may be somewhat complex.

    8. Some researchers have taken to doing that by looking at what they call “eudaimonic happiness,” or the happiness that comes from meaningful pursuits, and “hedonic happiness”—the happiness that comes from pleasure or goal fulfillment.

      I would have thought goal fulfillment would be more related to eudaimonic happiness, though on second thought, I could at least seeing it belonging to either category.

    9. “When you feel happy, and you take out the meaning part of happiness, it’s not really happiness,” she says. Yet this is basically how Baumeister and his colleagues defined happiness for the purpose of their study. So although the study referred to “happiness,” says Lyubomirsky, perhaps it was actually looking at something more like “hedonic pleasure”—the part of happiness that involves feeling good without the part that involves deeper life satisfaction.
    10. “If we just look at helping others, the simple effect is that people who help others are happier,” says Baumeister. But when you eliminate the effects of meaning on happiness and vice versa, he says, “then helping makes people less happy, so that all the effect of helping on happiness comes by way of increasing meaningfulness.”
    11. meaning (separate from happiness) is not connected with whether one is healthy, has enough money, or feels comfortable in life, while happiness (separate from meaning) is. More specifically, the researchers identified five major differences between a happy life and a meaningful one. Happy people satisfy their wants and needs, but that seems largely irrelevant to a meaningful life. Therefore, health, wealth, and ease in life were all related to happiness, but not meaning. Happiness involves being focused on the present, whereas meaningfulness involves thinking more about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them.In addition, happiness was seen as fleeting, while meaningfulness seemed to last longer. Meaningfulness is derived from giving to other people; happiness comes from what they give to you. Although social connections were linked to both happiness and meaning, happiness was connected more to the benefits one receives from social relationships, especially friendships, while meaningfulness was related to what one gives to others—for example, taking care of children. Along these lines, self-described “takers” were happier than self-described “givers,” and spending time with friends was linked to happiness more than meaning, whereas spending more time with loved ones was linked to meaning but not happiness. Meaningful lives involve stress and challenges. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness, which suggests that engaging in challenging or difficult situations that are beyond oneself or one’s pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness. Self-expression is important to meaning but not happiness. Doing things to express oneself and caring about personal and cultural identity were linked to a meaningful life but not a happy one. For example, considering oneself to be wise or creative was associated with meaning but not happiness.

      The five major differences between meaningfulness and happiness.

    12. Indeed, if you think about it, this idea of happiness as a natural state creates a curious problem. What if I’m not happy? Does that mean that I’m unnatural? Am I ill, or bad, or deficient? Is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with the society in which I live? These are all symptoms of a condition that I call the unhappiness of not being happy, and it is a peculiarly modern condition. To cure this condition, we might focus less on our own personal happiness and instead on the happiness of those around us, for relentless focus on one’s own happiness has the potential to be self-defeating. The 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill once said, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” Whether that is really true or not, I don’t know. But given that we live in a world that asks this question of us every day, it is a paradox worth pondering.
    13. Given these presuppositions, the ancients tended to agree that very few would ever succeed in being happy, because happiness takes an incredible amount of work, discipline and devotion, and most people, in the end, are simply not up to the task. The happy are what Aristotle calls “happy few.” They are, if you like, the ethical elite. This is not a democratic conception of happiness.
  2. Nov 2013
    1. He is then just as irrational in sorrow as he is in happiness: he cries aloud and will not be consoled. How differently the stoical man who learns from experience and governs himself by concepts is affected by the same misfortunes! This man, who at other times seeks nothing but sincerity, truth, freedom from deception, and protection against ensnaring surprise attacks, now executes a masterpiece of deception: he executes his masterpiece of deception in misfortune, as the other type of man executes his in times of happiness.

      a man can control his happiness or sorrow by deceiving himself in different ways

  3. Oct 2013
    1. We may define happiness as prosperity combined with virtue; or as independence of life; or as the secure enjoyment of the maximum of pleasure; or as a good condition of property and body, together with the power of guarding one's property and body and making use of them. That happiness is one or more of these things, pretty well everybody agrees.

      Everyone has a different definition of happiness but everyone wants to be happy.

    2. We may define happiness as prosperity combined with virtue; or as independence of life; or as the secure enjoyment of the maximum of pleasure; or as a good condition of property and body, together with the power of guarding one's property and body and making use of them. That happiness is one or more of these things, pretty well everybody agrees.

      The definition of happiness.

    3. This end, to sum it up briefly, is happiness and its constituents.

      This is what sophists had been looking for.

    4. prosperity combined with virtue; or as independence of life; or as the secure enjoyment of the maximum of pleasure; or as a good condition of property and body, together with the power of guarding one's property and body and making use of them.


    5. For all advice to do things or not to do them is concerned with happiness and with the things that make for or against it; whatever creates or increases happiness or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.

      This reminds me of Socrates in Plato's "Gorgias." Except that he advised people to only partake in things that make them happy because they are good or beneficial and not to partake in things good/beneficial because they make the person happy (or something along those lines).

    1. In urging his hearers to take or to avoid a course of action, the political orator must show that he has an eye to their happiness.

      Their is no distinction between acting concerned and genuine concern for "their" happiness.

  4. Sep 2013
    1. From this definition of happiness it follows that its constituent parts are: -- good birth, plenty of friends, good friends, wealth, good children, plenty of children, a happy old age, also such bodily excellences as health, beauty, strength, large stature, athletic powers, together with fame, honour, good luck, and virtue. A man cannot fail to be completely independent if he possesses these internal and these external goods; for besides these there are no others to have.

      What is happiness?

    2. There is, indeed, a capacity for long life that is quite independent of health or strength; for many people live long who lack the excellences of the body; but for our present purpose there is no use in going into the details of this.

      Or independence, getting to my earlier point.

    3. The constituents of honour are: sacrifices; commemoration, in verse or prose; privileges; grants of land; front seats at civic celebrations; state burial; statues; public maintenance; among foreigners, obeisances and giving place; and such presents as are among various bodies of men regarded as marks of honour.

      Interesting, honor being a public pursuit vs. private. Huh, live and learn.

    4. Honour is the token of a man's being famous for doing good.

      Can one have honor and derive happiness from, without being famous for it? This sounds more like fame.

    5. The phrases "possession of good children" and "of many children" bear a quite clear meaning.

      What is there to do to for people with bad or ugly children, just be unhappy?

    6. A man cannot fail to be completely independent if he possesses these internal and these external goods; for besides these there are no others to have.

      It sounds like he is placing "independence" at the base of all happiness. I do not disagree, but I would hope it is debatable, since it is not possible for all people at all times to be independent.

    7. That happiness is one or more of these things, pretty well everybody agrees.

      Well of course. Could he make the definition much broader?

    8. For all advice to do things or not to do them is concerned with happiness and with the things that make for or against it; whatever creates or increases happiness or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.
    1. In urging his hearers to take or to avoid a course of action, the political orator must show that he has an eye to their happiness. Four definitions (of a popular kind: as usual in the Rhetoric, and some fourteen constituents, of happiness.

      tenants of political oratory